Thursday, September 9, 2010

Guest Post from Misty at Baby Sign Language

I hope everyone is having a great Thursday, and Happy New Year to all of my Jewish readers!  We are observing the holiday today so please enjoy this guest post from Misty, chief editor of Baby Sign Language!  We only use a couple of signs here but I'm always looking for more ways to communicate with Eli and Jude and minimize tantrums.

Taming Tantrums with Baby Sign Language

Childcare experts all agree that toddler tantrums are usually caused by extreme frustration. At the heart of this frustration is the inability to communicate, as language skills are often a long way behind other skills such as mobility. Anything parents can do to improve toddler communication has to be a good thing for tantrum taming. And Baby Sign Language offers an ideal solution.

How Can Baby Sign Language Help With Toddler Tantrums?
Psychologists studying child development have for many years appreciated the link between symbols and learning. Famous child psychologist, Vygotsky, said that the social interaction between the learner and a knowledgeable adult is essential to cognitive development. In other words, your child needs to understand what it is he wants then he needs to be able to communicate this to you. Symbols and gestures give the child a means of doing this that is less sophisticated than language – it is easier, for example, for a toddler to picture milk in his head and then make a gesture to represent this than it is for him to search a growing vocabulary for the right word.

Communication And Confidence
Studies have shown that learning symbols and gestures has a significant effect on the early communicating abilities of even 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.

Confidence And Tantrums
A confident toddler who has learned simple sign language is less likely to become frustrated when he can’t get what he wants. He has the means to tell you what he needs – by using Baby Sign Language – and the confidence to know that Mommy will understand him. Signing also gives Mom and Dad a way to cut through the confusion that words often cause to a stressed out toddler. He is more likely to respond to visual cues for behavior than worn-out words from a worn-out mom!

Start Young – If You Can
Teaching your baby to sign may well have the longer-term result that when he reaches toddlerhood he has the tools he needs to communicate successfully with you, avoiding many frustration-based tantrums. But if you haven’t already started to sign, and have a tantruming toddler, don’t despair. It’s never too late to begin. The signs to focus on now are those 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.

1 comment:

  1. happy new year to you! i loved the 20 things post, and am horrified by what you went through with poop/ hopeful it doesn't happen to me. i was at synagogue briefly yesterday and scanned the congragation for you. we'll be at services next week. we'll be the loud ones in the room reserved for such antics!