If someone told you that it was possible to prevent up to 90% of toddler upset and tantrums, you’d really want to know how – and why.
The ‘how’ is baby signing and the use of four, just four, simple signs.
The ‘Why’ is explained below.
Baby signing is the use of gesture (or sign), with speech, to enable even very young children to be able to communicate what they may need or want before speech begins.
The use of signing encourages peaceful, respectful and responsive interactions with happy, confident children who have the resources and capability to ask for what they need with their hands, easily and quickly.
Signing is a wonderful parenting tool for anyone with children under 7. I would go so far as to say that it is one of the most transformative tools for parenting and responsive care-giving that I am to come across. And with busy modern lives, having an immediate visual point of reference is invaluable as we process visual signals so much more quickly than the spoken word.
Abraham Maslow created the Hierarchy of Needs in 1943 which is based on Maslow’s theory that Man’s “most basic level of needs must be met before the individual will strongly desire or focus motivation upon higher level needs.”
Basic needs are literally the requirements for human survival; food, drink, sleep, excretion, comfort, shelter. Without these needs being met, quite simply the body cannot continue to function.
‘It has been suggested that up to 90% of toddler tantrums are related to just four things.
The need to eat, to drink, to sleep and to receive comfort’
Children who are able to communicate their needs and be understood, are able to progress to higher level interests (the important things in life – climbing, gazing at butterflies, and contemplating ants…) which in turn impacts greatly on their learning capabilities. In reverse, a child who is always concentrating on an unmet basic need will feel “anxious and tense”. This anxiety manifests as meltdown and distress.
As responsive parents, we want to make sure that we are providing as much opportunity as possible for our little people to communicate with us. The use of gesture is a perfectly normal part of speech development (think waving, clapping, pointing) but has the benefit of supporting our attachment bond by increasing eye contact and the giving and receiving of undivided attention.
Maximise peaceful, happy and cherished interactions by learning and using these four signs:
Eat or Milk (food)
If you are feeling confident, then additional signs that will also help meet immediate needs are:
Nappy Change or Toilet if you EC (excretion)
And after that, you’ll want to expand your signing vocabulary as you fall in love with using it.
GAIN your child’s attention by saying their name
SIGN so that they can see you
SAY the word as you sign it
WAIT for a response (a turn of the head or body away = no; excited arm flapping = yay!)
REPEAT – again and again and again.
At the very least you will have a great deal of fun and learn a new modern language – but, with a little effort, I’ll guarantee that you will gain a confident, more communicative child who can let you know what they need too!
4 signs to learn today!
©photo by E.J. Richards is licensed under CC BY NC ND 2.0
Shelley juggles motherhood, endless washing and wonderful outdoor adventures with a passion for communication and the incredible world of baby signing at Little Signers Club and Online Babysign – www.littlesignersclub.co.uk / www.onlinebabysign.co.uk