Speaking Up: The Importance of Self-Advocacy

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As a dedicated parent, you care about your child. You anticipate their needs and talk to their teachers, family members and others about what they need. You make it a priority to get your child the help they require both in and outside of school.  

Part of raising our children includes teaching them to speak up for themselves. Teaching your child to be a self-advocate is an important skill, essential for independence and success. 

Self-advocacy is the ability to understand your areas of strength, areas for growth and be able to verbalize your needs to other people. 

The key elements of self-advocacy for children can be broken down as follows:

  •  Your child understands what he needs.
  • He knows what kinds of support will help him.
  • He is able to speak to his teachers, tutors and family members about his needs.

Learning to self-advocate during childhood is a skill that can help your child throughout his high school and college years, in relationships, and in his career. 


Promoting Self-Advocacy

You can help your child build this skill by giving him information and opportunities to speak up for himself. The process begins with helping him understand and discuss his needs and issues. Here are some tips for getting started.

1. Encourage your child to speak for himself. Speaking up is not limited to school. There are many opportunities for your child to voice what he needs. Encourage your child to order his own meal at a restaurant or if you go to the grocery store together, encourage him to ask where an item is located.

2. Establish that his input matters. Show your child that his opinion makes a difference. Involve him in your decision making and ask what he thinks about issues that you are discussing. 

3. Practice what to say to teachers. Your child may be nervous about asking for what he needs and discussing his learning accommodations. Assure him that this is a natural feeling and that teachers are here to help. Together, fill out an index card with his accommodations that he can share with his teacher. This can be a good jumping off point for discussion. 

4. Asking questions is a good thing! Remind your child that the ability to ask  questions is an important skill, crucial for learning and evolving. Praise your child when they advocate for themselves; self-esteem and self-advocacy go hand-in-hand. 

Self-advocacy takes time and practice and is not easy for many kids. The sooner your child gets started, the more routine it will feel. When your child learns to advocate for himself, he has the opportunity to reach his full potential.


Every student has a different learning style. For an individualized plan customized to your child's needs, please contact Dana Aussenberg at danaaussenberg.com or email dana@danaaussenberg.com.