Today I have a guest post from Misty Weaver, Chief Editor of Baby Sign Language. This new site has a ton of information on how parents can teach their children to use sign language. Baby Sign Language is a great way for parents to communicate with their children before the children can actually speak (or speak clearly LOL). This website has a awesome free resources, like flash cards, videos and tutorials that are super easy to understand – even if only half your mind can watch/read for instance, if you are dealing with an overtired 2 year old like me…
We personally use sign language with our son, and although my husband was not too thrilled about it at first, he realized how helpful it was for our son to be able to tell us what he wants when we can’t understand him. It also has been shown that by teaching a baby to sign, the amount of words in their vocabulary goes up – and doesn’t prohibit them or delay them from learning to speak, as some parents worry. I have loved working with Misty and it’s an honor to have her as a guest on my blog. I hope you enjoy!
Toddlerhood begins around a child’s first birthday – usually coinciding with their first steps, hence the term ‘toddler’. With this phase of development lasting until around three, the toddler years pose many challenges for child and parent. During this time your toddler must learn to walk, feed himself, dress and undress, use a toilet, communicate, and control his emotions. Quite a list – it’s no wonder most toddlers have a few tantrums along the way!
How Can Baby Sign Language Help?
The key to toddler behavior is communication, and the good news is Baby Sign Language really does help. Psychologists studying child development have for many years appreciated the link between symbols and learning. Symbols and gestures give the child a means of communicating that is less sophisticated than language – it is easier, for example, for a toddler to picture an apple in his head and then make a gesture to represent an apple than it is for him to search a growing vocabulary for the right word.
Why Baby Signing Works
Studies have shown that learning symbols and gestures has a significant effect on the early communicating abilities of young children. Communication is a two-way process, and when a toddler’s attempts at communicating are successful – the parent understands what it is toddler wants – he grows in confidence. This confidence encourages him to communicate more often, and more creatively. It is a ‘win win’ situation for both parent and toddler.
How To Start Signing For Tantrum Taming
If you have been signing with your baby since he was small you obviously have a head-start. If not, don’t worry – it’s not too late to make a real impact on your child’s tantrums by learning a few simple signs. The signs to focus on now are ones linked to emotions and basic needs, as the inability to communicate these are at the heart of frustration-based tantrums. Begin with the signs for Tired, Hungry and Sad. Repeat these signs often when talking to your toddler, using flash cards if necessary, to help him learn what each sign means. When he is tired, for example, reinforce this by saying ‘Frankie is tired’ and making the sign for tired.
Encouragement And Patience
Encourage his efforts at signing by giving lots of praise whenever he makes a sign – even if you’re not quite sure what he’s trying to say! Be patient – it can take a couple of months of exposure to a sign for a toddler to begin to use it himself. Don’t expect too much too soon.
Tantrum Taming And Beyond
When your toddler has the means to tell you how he is feeling, he will be less likely to succumb to those dreaded tantrums. It’s up to you to watch closely for signs – not only for baby sign language but also signs of tiredness or frustration. The other benefit of Baby Sign Language is that the extra attention your toddler gets when you are learning signs means attention-getting tantrums are likely to stop too!
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