Show me a Sign
Recently I found myself on a hot afternoon, piling my three young girls into the van after a long morning. We were hot, tired, and hungry, which any parent knows is a hazardous situation. Because of the circumstance, I was focused on getting home as quickly as possible, and was lacking patience. When my 2 year old tried to tell me she wanted something, I made three attempts to guess what “Euick” was, and finally closed the sliding door in exasperation. This naturally made my daughter furiously upset, as I still had not gotten her what she wanted and by the time I climbed into the driver’s seat, she was screaming and crying at record decibels. I was not in the mood to play a guessing game, and almost drove off without resolving the issue. Gratefully I chose to turn around and say, “Natasha, I do not understand what you want, show me a sign”. Instantly, Natasha made the sign for MUSIC. “You want music?” I asked, to which Natasha immediately stopped crying and said “Yes.” She then waited patiently while I found her favorite tape and began to play it. Although Natasha is at an age where she speaks verbally, her knowledge and experience of using signs saved us from a painful drive home.
I am one of a growing number of families who teaches sign language to their babies so that they can communicate before they can talk. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to use sign language with all three of my daughters and have experienced very specific benefits and joys with each child as a result. My journey began when my oldest daughter Laura (who is now almost seven) was only 10 months old. I was in the library and stumbled across the book Baby Signs: How to talk with your baby before your baby can talk. I read the book and was enthralled by the idea of using sign language with my baby so that we could communicate. I did not personally know anyone who had signed with their hearing baby, but felt confident in trying it after reading the research and benefits that Dr. Linda Acredolo and Dr. Susan Goodwyn had completed.
Laura was a dream baby, even before I used signs with her. She was easy-going, happy, content, and I had an instant connection with her and felt I knew what she needed just by looking at her. I found that using signs with her enhanced our communication and made our time more interactive and interesting. With Laura, I found signing to be just a fun thing to do.
My second daughter changed all that. Melissa was a strong willed child; often upset and very apt to crying. I did not feel an instant bond or connection with Melissa, and feared that I would never have the same relationship with her as I did with Laura. As a young mother this frightened me. With my knowledge of the Baby Signs Program I began using signs with her when she was 11 months old. Melissa did not begin signing back to us until she was 12 and a half months old, but within two weeks both my husband and I noticed a dramatic change in her attitude. She was happier, telling us what she needed, and crying far less. We noticed that the atmosphere in our home was significantly more peaceful. I felt a closer connection to her that I had been missing! It was with Melissa that I realized the dramatic impact that the Baby Signs Program can have in a family! My experience with her is what prompted me to pursue a business with Baby Signs, Inc. so that I could share this wonderful skill with other parents.
My third daughter, Natasha, has had the benefit of having two older sisters eager to teach her sign language. I have noticed a very strong bond between all three sisters, and watched the pride and joy in the older girls eyes as they were able to assist teaching Natasha. Laura is especially patient when trying to understand what Natasha is saying, and I have heard her saying “Natasha, I don’t understand. Show me a sign.”
The Baby Signs Program has made a great impact on our family dynamics, in my babies development, and in my satisfaction as a mother.