3My son was two years old when he threw his first temper tantrum. We were at the grocery store and ready to check out when he suddenly started throwing the food off of the belt and onto the floor. As a pediatric and neonatal nurse I was certain I had enough experience to cope with anything that would come my way. Not in this case! My son was truly trying to tell me he something …maybe he was tired or that he wanted to help with the groceries. To this day, I’m not sure which it was.
So, what could I have done differently? If I had known about the benefits of baby signing I could have communicated with him through baby sign language. By tilting his head and putting his hand to his ear for tired or raising his closed hand for help I would have understood what he wanted and helped meet his need.
It wasn’t until a year later that I heard more about signing programs while watching 20/20. Children were actually “talking” to their parents and telling them what it was they were thinking, feeling and needing! The founders of one program, Drs. Linda Acredolo and Susan Goodwyn, explained how all parents teach their children to wave bye-bye and mentioned that children have the opportunity to learn over 100 signs. I then had the wonderful opportunity to use the program with my niece and nephew and saw how they could tell their parents’ things like when their food was too hot, or that they wanted more to eat.
Besides giving babies a way to communicate earlier, signing builds vocabulary and language skills and reduces crying. It has also been shown to increase the IQ of a child. Parents are less frustrated when they can understand what their child wants and needs. By providing your child with the tools for early communication you allow your baby to share their world with you. Given these essential tools of communication between infant and parent the bond between them strengthens and grows.