Changing Faces supports people who have any condition or injury that affects their appearance, anywhere in the UK

Communicating with confidence

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This guide aims to:

  • Look at strategies and techniques for communicating with other people and responding to curiosity and reactions from the public

  • Provide practical ideas for parents and guardians to support their children in their communication and social interactions with peers

Social situations

Do you feel self-conscious or worried when you and your child meet people for the first time? Are you nervous about taking your child to social situations? You are not alone, many parents feel this way.

Many of the parents who have been in touch with Changing Faces have expressed these types of thoughts about meeting others

  • Worrying people are looking or what others think about their child’s appearance
  • Feeling on edge and worrying about being asked questions
  • Feeling like they have to explain or not knowing how much to say
  • Not wanting to talk about it

Some of these may sound familiar to you – and you may have other concerns too.

Many parents find that one of the biggest challenges of having a child with a different appearance is unwanted attention. This may be staring, double takes, comments and even unkindness. Understandably, this attention can be upsetting and intrusive. Mostly this behaviour is thoughtless; most people are just curious and don’t mean to upset you or your child, they forget to think about how you might feel. Unfortunately, there are some people who stare excessively, laugh or say something rude and a few will be very unkind. Some people may move away, look away or ignore you.

Five helpful techniques for social interaction

Changing Faces has identified these five simple techniques:

EXPLAIN REASSURE DISTRACT ASSERT HUMOUR

They may sound too simple and clearly some situations can be a lot more complicated. But, remembering the five techniques can be a quick and easy prompt when you are in a challenging situation, reminding you of some ways to cope. Of course, each person will be different. Depending on the situation and your experiences, you can try them out and decide what works best for you, your child, and when to use it. The techniques can be used for you, your child and in your communication with other people.

TECHNIQUES Yourself The other person
EXPLAIN Explain to yourself why something
may happen, e.g.: if a person asks a
question about your child’s condition, tell yourself, “This person is curious about my child” or “He has not seen my child’s condition before”.”
Explain your child’s condition to the
other person, to help them understand, e.g.: “It’s just a scar”, “Mary has something called vitiligo” or “Mary’s face is different, but she is just the same as anyone else.”
REASSURE Reassure yourself, e.g.: “I am ok.” or
“This person does not mean to ignore me – they are looking away because they don’t know what to say.”
Reassure the other person, e.g.: “It
doesn’t hurt”, “She is fine with it” or
“It’s ok, she’s had it all her life.”
DISTRACT Distract yourself in a difficult situation by thinking about something else, e.g. count to 100, say the alphabet backwards or think about something that makes you feel good. Distract the other person by talking
about something else, e.g. “The food here is great, isn’t it” or “Who do you know here?”
ASSERT Assert yourself by showing you are in control – either walk away or make a short statement, e.g. “Please stop staring at my child.” or “I didn’t ask for your opinion.” The other person is most likely to be
embarrassed or surprised. Even if
they are not, walking away shows
you are in control.
HUMOUR Use your sense of humour to either
lighten the situation or put the other
person in their place, e.g. “You seem
to find my child very interesting.” or when someone makes an obvious statement respond by saying: “Wow – nobody’s ever pointed that out before!”
The other person may laugh or
respond in light of the humour… or
be embarrassed.

Handling other people’s reactions - three key questions

What if I’m asked about my child’s disfigurement?

Going out in public

At some point, you are likely to be asked about your child’s appearance. Going anywhere in public involves being around people who may notice your child’s difference. It is normal for people to notice difference. We all do it. Young children are incredibly curious; they look intently at things and ask very straightforward questions. Adults might stare at your child or do a double take. They may forget to say, ‘Hello’ and instead blurt out, “What happened to your child?” or ask someone with them, “Did you see that child?” Some people are genuinely concerned. Others may be familiar with your child’s condition and may want to offer support or a friendly word.

Parents and children often report feeling completely unprepared to deal with this sort of curiosity, leaving them feeling angry, upset or wary about going out. How we feel and respond to things changes from day to day, so you might want to prepare some responses beforehand and then choose one that matches your mood at the time.

As your child gets older, it is important both you and your child feel comfortable and secure in managing other people’s reactions. The EXPLAIN REASSURE DISTRACT ASSERT HUMOUR techniques will enable you to:

  • Make the first move
  • Act in a way that makes you feel more in control
  • Resolve any curiosity
  • Maintain your child’s self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Show your child how to respond to curiosity so that your child can build their own skills and manage when meeting new people

Work out how much you want to say

Technique used = EXPLAIN DISTRACT

“I don’t talk about my disfigurement apart from a short sentence explaining what it is if anyone asks – I’ve had it all my life and there are far more interesting things to talk about. I know I find it boring after the initial concern if a person just talks about various hospital stays, treatment etc.” Alison

Think about this in advance – how much do you want to say about what happened to your child? You can choose how much detail suits you. Your answer may depend on your mood, the context of the situation and who you are talking to. As an example, here are a few ways to respond to a question about burns scarring:

Tell them you do not want to discuss it at all:

“I’d rather not talk about it.  I’m sure you can understand.”

A short, clear response, answering but also saying this is the end of the subject:

“My son was burned when he was younger. It was a long time ago and I don’t talk about it much now.”

Offer a brief, simple response and then distract the person by moving onto another subject:

“It’s just burn scarring from an accident he had a long time ago. I love it here, don’t you? It’s such a nice place.”

Indicating you’re at ease with the subject, but encouraging a more general discussion rather than a personal one:

“My son was burned when he was younger, but fortunately smoke alarms have greatly reduced the number of injuries like his.”

Giving more information and saying that you are happy to discuss more personal details:

“He was burned when he was younger, and he’s going in again soon for more surgery. It’s very interesting. They are going to take a graft from his leg…”

You can adapt the above into your own words and find the statements that work for you. You may need to try some out and practice in different situations, but eventually, these will be easier to say. Changing Faces can support you towards feeling more confident with this and there are some exercises below.

Most people will be happy with a very brief explanation and will take their lead from you. Remember, on the whole, people are simply curious or interested, exactly as you would be yourself. Also, people may be unsure whether to ask or not – and not want to seem as though they have ignored your child’s condition or avoided talking about it.

The general rule of thumb is, the more the interaction means to you, and your child, the more you expand the technique.

Introduce the subject yourself

Techniques used = EXPLAIN REASSURE HUMOUR

If people do not ask you straight away, you may choose to bring up the subject yourself. This can give you more control over the situation – and may relieve any worry you could have when you are waiting to be asked. Again, you can choose how much you want to say and how personal it is to you and your child:

You may like to give a small amount of information to indicate it is okay to discuss your child’s condition:

“You have a wonderful tan! One of the problems with my daughter’s skin condition is that she has to stay out of the sun.”

A particularly good strategy if you are likely to meet people again is to give more personal information, whilst also complimenting other people:

“I’m having a good time tonight. Often, I find these events difficult because my daughter’s appearance can attract unwanted attention, but everyone here seems very nice and friendly …”

“Sometimes, I show I am comfortable with talking about my condition, but try to open it up to a general discussion so that it doesn’t become too personal. I don’t mind discussing personal details but I’m acutely aware that not many people can relate to experiences such as mine.” Mark

You don’t have to explain all the time

The suggestions above may feel hard to put into practice but parents often remark that the more they use the strategies, the more confident they feel and the more they enjoy going out. Sometimes, just thinking through your options with someone close to you and coming up with some ways to handle situations can help you to feel more in control and able to just enjoy spending time with your child.

There will be times when you don’t feel up to responding to others. Try using the DISTRACT part of the technique by asking them a question about themselves or moving the conversation on:

“I don’t feel like talking about it right now. I’ll tell you about it another time. Did you go to the fair on the weekend?”

“It’s a birthmark. Sorry we can’t chat. We have got to get to an appointment. Bye.”

There are many ways to respond to people’s questions and what works for one parent may not work for another. Some days will be easier than others. One parent’s way of dealing with constant questions was to have small laminate cards printed with an explanation of her daughter’s type of birthmark, the treatment she has undergone and a few other comments:

“I used to give these out if I had been constantly asked about Cosima or she was being stared at a lot, as it was a less painful way of defending Cosima. It also gave me the confidence to be able to respond without having to speak, particularly if we were having a bad day or if Cosima was really sick and when I had nothing left to fight back. I just used to say you seem to be particularly interested in my child so here is our card and then just walk away.”

Meeting new people in the park or at a playgroup

When you take your child to the park or a playgroup, you will meet other parents and children who live locally and who you will see on a more regular basis. In this type of situation where you may want to make friends with the other parents or encourage your toddler to play alongside other children, it helps to expand your explanations in response to any initial curiosity.

A little more information lets people know that your child is just like any other. You can then distract them by talking about something other than your child’s appearance.

Also, bear in mind some of the other things that people might be thinking about your child – is his skin condition contagious or can she grip the climbing frame? They may assume that a child who has a visible difference must need extra help or have delays in talking or development.

Although some children may need extra support or have learning difficulties, this is not always the case so by expanding the EXPLAIN REASSURE DISTRACT techniques you can reassure people and clear up any misunderstandings:

“Sam’s legs get more tired than other children and that’s why he uses the buggy.”

“Billy was born with a tongue and body that are bigger than other children his age but he likes playing at the park just like you.”

“Dillon’s hands look different to yours. It is the way he was born. Do you want to play with the ball?”

“Jasmine has a brown birthmark. Do you have any moles or birthmarks?”

Some of these explanations may seem too complicated for a young child to grasp but even if the explanation seems too advanced, it is the tone, friendliness and reassurance in the message that is just as important as anything else. Plus, local children will become familiar with the words and will, over time, come to understand both the meaning of the words as well as the intention.

How do I deal with people staring?

There is a difference between the inquisitive looks we all give each other when we first meet someone and outright staring. Staring can be difficult, uncomfortable, even distressing or offensive if it carries on.

Often people may not be aware that they are staring – or may be insensitive to how uncomfortable this can be for you and your child. It is important to let people know that you are aware of their stares and how this makes you feel – and that you want it to stop.

Use expressions:

Techniques used = ASSERT

Look back, smile and hold the other person’s gaze briefly. Most people will smile back and then look away.

Look back, smile or nod to show them you have noticed – this may also break the ice.

For more persistent ‘stares’, look back and hold their gaze whilst raising your eyebrows as an acknowledgement that you’ve noticed their staring.

If the staring continues, frown to tell them you are not happy.

Say something:

Techniques used = ASSERT

Ask a direct question:

“Can I help you?  Do I know you from somewhere?”

This will potentially deter the observer from continuing to look, and make them aware of their behaviour.

Or make an assertive and simple statement:

“I would prefer it if you didn’t stare at my child.”

If the person continues to look, try a direct approach:

“Can you please stop staring at my child?  It’s very rude.”

or

“My son’s face is asymmetrical. It is the way he was born. We don’t like it when people stare. We would prefer you to say hello or ask us a question if you are curious.”

It is possible to control a social situation where you find people are staring just simply by smiling or saying ‘hi’. I work in a shop and find that most people smile back, reply and actually realise you are ‘normal’. Others will continue with what I consider to be hostile behaviour, which can be upsetting, but I just think what a waste of time they are! (Yes – we have opinions too!) Alison

How you respond will depend on how you feel at the time. you. At other times you may feel annoyed, upset or angry. away.

On some occasions it may not bother Sometimes, you may feel like walking

You can adapt the examples provided into your own words. You may like to prepare several options in advance to help you deal with situations as they come up. Or you may find one type of response works for you and use this most of the time. It is up to you – at first, practice by trying different comments at different times. There are some exercises below. Also, a Changing Faces Practitioner can help you to identify what works for you and your child.

Managing it

The five techniques can help you to act in a way which makes you feel more in control, can put others at ease and enable you to get on with your day. Being able to handle other people’s reactions confidently will boost your self-esteem and make everyday encounters more enjoyable for you and your child.

EXPLAIN REASSURE

Having a brief explanation ready when you notice someone staring at your child or if they ask a question can diffuse an awkward situation. It can help people to move beyond their initial reactions and make it easier for you to get on with your normal routine.

There is no need to provide adults or children you meet in public with in depth medical explanations. A brief and straightforward answer will satisfy most people:

“I see that you have noticed Jordan’s face. It is the way he was born.”

“Zarina’s face is swollen on one side. It doesn’t hurt her.”

“Mason has eczema. That is why his skin is red and itchy. You can’t catch it.”

“Tom was born with NF. It means he gets lumps and bumps under his skin.”

“Kizzy has a burn scar.  It is lumpy and red but it doesn’t hurt.”

“Tom’s face looks different. One side hasn’t grown at the same rate as the other.”

Sometimes it is enough to just smile at the person. This can break a stare or reassure someone. Simply saying “hello” also lets people know that you are Okay and it suggests that they can approach you too.

DISTRACT

You don’t have to continue talking about your child’s visible difference. You can move the conversation on to something else or end it politely so that you can get on with your day:

“We don’t mind talking about Aiden’s Aperts but we do need to get going now.”

“Leila has a big eye and a small eye. Her eyes are brown. What colour are your eyes?”

 

How do I deal with people making comments?

Managing rudeness

You may overhear people making remarks about your child. This might be thoughtless and tactless, rather than deliberate (but still offensive or upsetting for you). At other times, this may be deliberately said for you to hear. Some people may even make rude remarks to your face. This can be very insulting and hurtful. It might make you angry – and you might feel like being angry and rude back to them. Or, you might feel so upset, you don’t know what to say or do.

Some people will have made assumptions or don’t know how to respond appropriately to a difference in appearance. Being assertive – stating what you feel and want without getting angry or abusive can be a very empowering way of dealing with this.

So…what can you do?

Walk away:

Technique used = ASSERT

If the comment seems to be a direct confrontation or aggressive, sometimes it may be best just to walk away, particularly if you feel threatened or concerned. This can be powerful in itself – as it is telling the other person you are not going to bother to respond to their bad behaviour. This still might leave you feeling very upset or angry – you might want to try talking to a friend or someone you trust to get support and to help you feel better.

Use your expressions:

Technique used = ASSERT

Generally, as with staring, the aim is to let people know that you are aware of the comment and that you don’t like it:

  • Give the person a firm look for around one second and look away again
  • Look at the person and hold their gaze whilst raising your eyebrows to show you have heard their comment
  • Look and frown to tell them you are not happy

Say something:

Techniques used = ASSERT HUMOUR

At other times, you may feel assertive and safe enough to respond with a reply that disarms or embarrasses the person.

Use sarcasm.  You might say:

“Is that the best you’ve got?”

or

“Wow, how long did it take you to think up?”

or

“Oh, you’re so original!” or “How imaginative!”

Even if presented humorously or lightly, these responses can show up the other person or make them feel ashamed.

Make an assertive and simple statement about their rudeness:

“Do you enjoy being rude to other people?”

or

My child just has a scar. It happened a long time ago. There is no need to be rude.”

Tell the person that the problem lies with them:

“It’s just a birthmark… so don’t make such a fuss about it.”

or

“My child has Neurofibromatosis. He may look different but he can hear and what you said really hurts.”

Again, it’s useful to prepare in advance and to have a range of options to use. A quick effective comment is good, and it helps to avoid a discussion or even an argument. However, look after yourself. You are not expected to find a way to manage every situation. Take it one step at a time. Some days will be better than other days. On good days you may feel like going to the park or shops and be confident in responding to other people.

As your child gets older it is important to teach them to be confident in managing other people’s reactions, and to know that if someone is rude or upsetting, it is okay for them to walk away and to tell someone.

What can your child do if someone is rude about their appearance?

Walk away and tell a parent or teacher.

Say something:

Techniques used = DISTRACT ASSERT

“Excuse me. I have to go now. My Mum is waiting for me”

If it is a friend or someone your child normally gets on with he could say:

“What you said really hurt. They are just scars from an accident.”

For more information about how to support you child in responding to situations see our Children & young people’s guides – Building Confidence and When Teasing Becomes Bullying.

Announcing your baby’s birth

Announcing your baby’s birth can cause anxiety, especially if you are unsure what to say about your baby’s condition and appearance, or perhaps you are unsure whether to say anything at all.

Friends and family can vary in the ways they respond to your baby’s appearance and with the level of support they offer. Some will be caring, accepting and will give invaluable support to you and your baby. You may find that others are more uncomfortable or don’t behave in the way that you expect. Others may need a bit more time to adapt to the situation. This can be hard to deal with. Many parents find it helpful to spend time with those who are able to offer more support.

When you introduce your baby to friends and family you might want to share a little information about their condition as well as other information. This can be done by phone, text, letter, e-mail or in person. Here’s an example of something you could say:

“We’re delighted to announce the birth of our daughter Hannah Louise on 8th May 2006.

She weighed in at 6lbs 8oz. She has a red birthmark on her cheek, which we call her strawberry. She’s got masses of jet black hair just like Mummy. We’ll be home soon and would love to see you.”

For many parents the use of Facebook and other visual or social media like Instagram may be a quick way of announcing the birth; however this way of communicating can have the additional pressure and expectation to share photos of your baby. Don’t feel you have to succumb to the pressure; do what feels right for you. You may decide to post a picture of your baby or perhaps do it later when you feel more prepared. Some parents may prefer to tell people over the phone first. For example:

”I am looking forward to seeing you. I wanted to let you know that the left side of Joshua’s face is smaller than his right and his eye is droopy on that side. It is a bit of a shock when you first see him. We are getting used to it now and he’s got big blue eyes and lots of brown hair.”

There will be times when you might not feel like talking about your baby; it is okay to let your friends and family know this. For example:

“I am looking forward to seeing you all but don’t want to talk about it a lot.”

Involving your child

There is a lot more information to help your child with their social skills in the Children and young people’s self-help guide Building confidence

Give your child a chance to talk about how they look

You may be used to answering questions about your child’s visible difference, or even pre-empting these by providing an explanation or encouraging children to play together. Your child (and their siblings) will be watching and learning how you respond to others. Over time your child will become familiar with these simple explanations and when ready they can start to use them for themselves.

You can encourage this by watching closely and giving your child a chance to answer questions or respond to stares or comments:

  • If another child asks, “What is that?” try not to step in with an answer straight away. Keep quiet for a little longer than usual and see if your child responds.
  • If not, you could suggest they answer by saying to them, “Lena, do you want to explain?”
  • If they don’t, you can give a brief explanation and then you can encourage your child to introduce themselves or play a game together – something to move the encounter on to normal social interaction.

Help your child to find an explanation they are comfortable with

Here are a few tips:

  • Sit down with your child and discuss the words they like and dislike.
  • Write down a few things your child likes (your child will need a variety of responses, including an ‘explanation’ statement and a ‘moving the conversation on’ statement) and practice them at home.
  • Let your child choose their favourite ones. They can write these down on a card and keep in a pocket, pin them up on the bedroom wall or keep them somewhere else special and safe.
  • When your child is comfortable with them, let them try them out. Try an easy situation first (e.g. with a friend or brother or sister, one person at a time, and when you are nearby).
  • Remind your child of the people they can turn to when things don’t go so well or if they feel low.

Here are some examples:

Ben wrote down a variety of responses, including an explanation and ideas for moving the conversation on:

“I was born with my fingers joined together, so my hands look different from yours. It doesn’t stop me doing anything. Do you want to come and join in the game?”

Sophia rehearsed her chosen explanation at home with the whole family so everyone could become familiar with using the same explanation:

“I have eczema. It makes my skin red and itchy but you can’t catch it. I have cream to put on that makes it feel better, so most of the time I forget about it. I really like your drawing.

Do you do drawing at home?”

As your child gets older you can step back more and more and observe how they deal with things.

Your child’s ability to use a variety of explanations and to know what works best will increase over time, but you may need to sit down and help your child develop some more responses. Explaining things in their own way will increase your child’s self-confidence amongst their peers and the sense that looking different is okay.

Learning key social skills

If your child can master these key social skills, they will be able to take the initiative when it comes to joining in and making friends.

  • Introducing them self by name
  • Smiling and making eye contact
  • Asking to join in a game that others are already playing
  • Asking someone else if they would like to join with what they are doing
  • Suggesting a shared game or activity
  • Starting a conversation or changing the subject with a question.

These skills will also be helpful for siblings who may find social situations tricky as a result of reactions to their brother or sister’s appearance.

The best way to teach your child these skills is to demonstrate them yourself when you are out with them. Some children will pick it up quite naturally from watching you whilst other children may need more encouragement and step-by-step guidance, maybe making it into a game.

Step 1 – Simple social skills like smiling and saying hello

Get your child to try smiling and saying hello to people and ask them if they notice what the other person does. 9 times out of 10, your child will get a smile back and we all know that we are more likely to try things again if we get a positive reaction!

The next step is to let your child know that they did a good job and that they should try it on their own next time. It’s okay to let your child know that smiling can make them and the other person feel more at ease, which makes your child more in control of the situation.

Step 2 – Starting a conversation

Ask your child if there is one child at school that they would like to get to know.

  • What is it about this person that your child likes?
  • What does this child like doing?

This is something that your child could use to start talking to the other child. They could ask a question, or just comment: “You’re really good at drawing” or “You’re playing a good game of netball.” Other skills include asking if they can join in a game by saying “Good game. You don’t mind if I play, do you?”

Step 3 – Supporting your child to develop these skills

  • Find children who like similar things.
  • Invite some classmates your child gets along with round to play.
  • Encourage your child to join a club and take up a hobby or sport, as well as making friends and building confidence, self-esteem and a sense of achievement.
  • Arrange for your child to meet other children with a similar condition (through a condition specific or other support group, or a Changing Faces workshop).

Supporting your child to make friends

As your child gains more independence (around 7+ years), they will be going to activities, parties and friends’ houses where they will be interacting with other children. This is a time when children most want to be like their peers and fit in. Children with disfigurements have many things in common with other children but they can feel left out and unsure of themselves, particularly if a lot of attention is focused on their appearance by others.

It is likely that your child will start to handle reactions to their appearance on their own. You may feel concerned about this, particularly if your child has only recently acquired their visible difference. You will both feel more confident and positive about everyday encounters if you can learn to handle other people’s reactions effectively and then model these skills for your child.

Making friends becomes increasingly important for children of this age as they start to develop their view of themselves through interactions with their peers. Being part of a family is a child’s first experience of fitting into a group so your child will already have learnt about how to behave with different people.

It is important for you as parents and other adults supervising your child to build your child’s self-esteem whilst helping them handle other people’s curiosity and expand their ‘friendship’ skills within their peer group. Many of the suggestions given in this guide are based on the EXPLAIN REASSUREDISTRACT techniques, which many families tell us has given them renewed confidence in meeting new people and helping their child to forge friendships.

Developing your child’s awareness of self and others

Paying more attention to other people and noticing their individual characteristics can help to reduce your child’s feelings of being stared at. Encourage them to notice and describe how other children are behaving by asking them particular questions like:

“What can you see?”, “What do the other children like to do?”, “What do you think when you see them playing football?”, “What do you think they think when you play football?”

Help your child to explore these aspects of themselves too. What kinds of things interest them? Is there a game or activity they’d like to try? Help them to see themselves as others see them e.g. as someone who is quiet but who likes to laugh or as someone who is good at tidying up.

Positive self-talk

Children who have a disfigurement may rightly be wary of meeting new children if they have had unpleasant experiences before but the way we think can also influence the way we feel. Research shows that the more positive expectations and thoughts we have, the more we are likely to have positive experiences. Negative past experiences or fears may lead a child to think, “I’m scared”, “They don’t like me” or “I wish I wasn’t here.”

Ask your child to focus on experiences that have worked well and try to find positive messages that they can to say to themselves when they are in an unpleasant situation. These self-mottos will challenge the negative thoughts that may pop up when they meet new people and can boost their self-confidence and self-esteem.

Positive thoughts your child could think:

  • It is their problem not mine
  • I don’t have to listen. I can walk away
  • I know I am great just the way I am
  • My friends like me the way I am
  • I have made friends. I will go and find them
  • I am good at football. I will find someone who wants to play with me

There is more information about strategies for children in our Children & Young People self-help guides.

Summary

  • Be aware of your feelings
  • Remember, on the whole, people are simply curious or interested
  • EXPLAIN REASSURE DISTRACT ASSERT HUMOUR
  • Being prepared and thinking of things to say in advance can help
  • You don’t have to explain all the time
  • Help your child to find an explanation they are comfortable with
  • You are not expected to find a way to manage every situation
  • Take it one step at a time.

Try it out!

Best to do these exercises when you have read all of this guide Communicating with confidence.

The exercises are to help you to think about how some of the things we have discussed might work for you – and may help you to feel confident and prepared when you are next in a social or public setting with your child. We’ve given some example situations – try thinking about a few answers for each one.

SOMEONE ASKING ABOUT YOUR CHILD’S CONDITION

You are at a child’s birthday party and are introduced to some parents you have never met before. Suddenly, in the middle of a conversation with them, one of the parents changes the subject and asks you about your child’s face.


What would you say? Write down four different types of responses you might give about your child’s condition, depending on how much you feel like sharing:

  1. Indicate you don’t want to talk about it and introduce another topic:
  2. Give a small amount of information and again change the subject:
  3. Give some information and introduce a more general topic relating to your child’s condition:
  4. Give more information and show that you are happy to discuss it:

Re-think the scenario as if you were to introduce the topic yourself. What might you say? Give a few examples.

SOMEONE STARING

Your child has just moved to a new school. You arrive to collect them early. Several other parents are there – you become aware that one mother is staring at your child.


 

What might you do and say? Try to think of three kinds of answer, varying your reaction. Remember, this is someone you are likely to come across many times and you need to be able to meet her without embarrassment in the future.

  1. A simple response indicating that you would like her not to stare:

    I would do:

    I would say:

  1. A response indicating the problem lies with her:

    I would do:

    I would say:

  2. A Humorous response:

    I would do:

    I would say:


Think about a person staring who you are unlikely to meet again. What could you say?

If the person continued staring, how might you be more assertive?

What if the person staring is someone you meet regularly? What could you say?