Communicate with your Toddler
Enhance Language & Lessen Frustrationsby Sara Bingham
you like to deal with fewer toddler tamtrums?
Devitt from SuperHands in Ireland answered, "Yes! The toddler years are a lot easier with sign language. When a child
expects he will be understood, he is calmer in any situation." Julie Reid, TinyTalk Baby Sign teacher in Scotland also
shared, "Absolutely, my son never had a tantrum because he could tell me what he wanted!"
I'm currently marking research papers for a class I teach within the Communicative Disorders
Assistant program at Durham College. In class we discuss enhancing communication for individuals with autism, Down's syndrome
and other special needs. It's inspiring!
I love that
the idea of 'baby sign language' is becoming more and more common place and that parents of children of any ability are more
comfortable with the idea of signing with their children. Whether someone uses speech, text, sign or pictures...that's symbolic
I also love thinking back to when my own
kids were learning to sign and talk (they don't stop talking now!). Sabrina's first sign was "NO" at 11 months
and at 18 months she had over 80 words (a comination of spoken words and signs). Typically, toddlers at 18 months have about
10-20 words. That's not just a little difference...that's a BIG difference!
Signing allowed Sabrina to play with language, make mistakes and learn more words. If she hadn't been able
to sign, something that's easier to do than clear speech for a toddler, she would not have had the huge vocabulary that she
Katrina Poole of Binksy & Bobo shared this tweet,
"my son became frustrated not being able to be 'heard'. Learning the simple 'more' or 'milk' sign really alleviated that."
One of the things that we talk about a lot in my college class is behaviour.
We don't talk about how to suppress challenging behaviours though, we talk about how to change them. There are four reason
behind any behaviour: 1) to make a request; 2) to get attention; 3) to escape a situation and 4) for sensory reasons. Three
out of four of these are communication based! If we can teach toddlers, and anyone, appropriate ways to request, e.g., "No,
I want the BANANA", get attention, e.g., "My eye HURTS", and to communicate "I'm tired. I'm FINISHED";
just think of the temper tantrums that can be avoided! Using sign language with your baby, and toddler, definitely can reduce
frustrations for everyone!
Sara Bingham is Sabrina's mom and also the founder of WeeHands and
the author of The Baby Signing Book. WeeHands is the world's leading children's sign language and language development program
for babies, toddlers and preschool children.