Family Life

Teaching Your Toddler to Communicate with Sign Language

posted: 01/11/13
by: Michelle Duggar


Image: DCL

Our little ones can get frustrated as they're learning to talk because they understand more than they're able to communicate with speech. They get what you're saying, but they're not able to really respond with words right away. Imagine how frustrating that would be! One way to help our little ones communicate while they learn to talk is through sign language. Instead of screaming for what they want, they learn a little sign language to help ask for things. Even though they might not be able speak yet, they can easily learn to sign. Toddlers are sharp! They know more than we give them credit for. It really doesn't take them long at all. In our home, we'll teach the toddlers some basic words like: more, please, all done, yes, no, thank you, mommy, and daddy. It really helps us all to communicate.

As I'm teaching Josie a sign with her hands, I'll sign it back to her and speak the word out loud. We just keep repeating it until she's got it. It helps to make a game out of it with little rewards, like cereal bites. As Josie reaches for more cereal, we'll work on learning a sign like "More." I'll do it first, say the word and then show her how to make the sign with her little hands.

If she screams or grabs for the cereal, she won't get it until she asks for it. I just always make that a rule. If you cry or scream, you won't get it. So you have to try it again. We'll practice three or four times, so she'll realize that the squeal just didn't get her what she wanted. But the sign language did. This is why the little ones get the reward. It's because they signed it. And they all practice it and learn they can get what they want when they ask the right way. It really doesn't take long at all and often turns into a skill that the kids keep with them into adulthood.

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