» Communicating With Your Toddler Through Baby Sign Language
February 8th, 2008 by admin
By Susan Hutson
The early years of parenting are the most difficult and trickiest part in any parents’ life. It is the most important too, as the bonding that occurs between parent and child at these early stages play a crucial role in the relationship for years to follow. Understanding your infants’ needs can be most frustrating, as crying is just about the only communicational skill an infant is capable of, until they learn to speak. The art of interpreting their wails and moans and figuring out their needs can be very difficult and complicated.
Babies attempt communication as early as their fetal stages. A return kick to a tummy rub, a punch to a loud song, these are the earliest forms of communication. Until about four months after birth, their communication consists mainly of reflexive crying to express themselves. At this stage, reacting to crying is extremely important and the best strategy is to understanding their cries and expressing the desired response. Showing interest and attending to the baby’s needs shows that the communication is working and builds the attachment and trust between you and your child. Parenting can be more enjoyable when positive parent – child relationship is established. Good communication is the key to building self-esteem as well a mutual respect.
This communication can go a step further, with the help of baby sign language, where your infant actively participate in making coherent expressions of their needs. Teaching your infant to sign their needs at an early age before they learn coordinated speech will help reduce frustration for both you and your child. Research by Joseph Garcia, an American Sign interpreter and a leading proponent of use of ASL as the basis for Baby Sign, indicates that babies who are exposed to signs regularly and consistently at six to seven months of age can begin using signs effectively by the eighth or ninth month.”
Infants lack the cognitive ability to coordinate their lips, tongue, brain, breath, and vocal chords simultaneously, i.e. they lack the motor skills to speak. But hand-eye coordination is possible in advance of the acquisition of verbal skills. Infants can learn to express their needs using simple signs for common words such as “eat”, “sleep”, “more”, “hug”, “play”, “cookie”, “teddy bear”, etc., before they are able to produce understandable speech – Amazing but true. If you can master the skills, and teach your baby to express himself through ‘signing,’ it can bridge the gap between you and your infants’ world. The end result? Contentment and peace of mind for both of you.
Teaching and using baby sign language consistently with your hearing baby can hold many other rewards.
· Helps accelerate baby’s verbal language skills earlier than usual
· Helps enhance baby’s receptive and expressive vocabulary
· Helps them learn to read more easily as a child
· Enhances their creative ability
· Results in a higher IQ by 10-12 points
· Promotes a better child/parent bond
There has been significant research on the benefits of Baby Signs, including its application on children with special needs and development delays. Some of this research indicate that children who have been taught Baby Signs have achieved early vocabularies and have had improved cognitive and communication skills throughout childhood. Baby signs are highly recommended by childhood educators, speech pathologists and child psychologists to help enhance the early stages of a child’s development and for a better parent child relationship.
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