Recently we ran a poll in an attempt to discover the main reasons why you have made the choice of incorporating baby sign language to the learning curriculum of your pre-verbal child. It was lovely to discover that the main reason for the majority of parents and caregivers was to reduce frustration and better understand the needs of baby. After all is there anything more precious in our human interactions than being understood?
We know at the end of the day your main goal as a parent is to raise a happy child secure in the knowledge that he is loved deeply. Baby sign language is just another tool to equip your little one to give and receive love. Last month I reread The Languages of Love by Gary Chapman and it was a sweet reminder of why we do what we do. Today as we celebrate love & friendship I wanted to share five wonderful applications of The Languages of Love in your baby sign language journey.
Words of Affirmation
From the moment you respond to baby’s first attempts of communication you are affirming. You are telling baby he is being heard by meeting their needs. There is nothing more affirming than mom knowing that you want more and mom supplying for that need. As baby grows we have a wonderful opportunity to create healthy dynamics of affirmation. Incorporate abstracts such as smart, beautiful and proud.
Acts of Service
One of the most heartbreaking challenges of modern culture is indifference and a culture that places too much weight in self-sufficiency. As your baby discovers the world take advantage of the special opportunity to serve him; before you know it he will be all grown up and craving for independence. Offer baby help when requested and grab every opportunity to teach baby to be a happy helper. If you are fortunate enough to have a playgroup or older siblings encourage collaboration by presenting little ones with tasks too big to be achieved alone.
This may be the easiest concept to incorporate to our parenting routine. The truth is most of us love giving and receiving gifts. One of the most effective methods of teaching baby sign language is to reward baby with either praise or small material tokens inclusive of food items that baby loves. Keep small and magical goodies to reward baby for day-to-day achievements. We do this by keeping a treasure chest with healthy snacks, bubbles, small farm figurines and other affordable age appropriate toys and gifts. In addition to rewarding baby we love to teach baby the joys of giving and the importance of gratitude. For our toddlers we keep little bags with goodies that she can give to friends for the simple joy of sharing. How special it is when baby learns to sign thank you!
To us this is the most precious and important gift you can give to babies. The very success of a baby sign language program is based on our willingness as parents to give our little ones the gift of time. There are endless opportunities to give baby the gift of time as you learn together. A discovery walk in the garden where you can show her leaves, flowers and all manner of wonderful things. Make time for a special trip to the zoo and learn to sign different animals together. Make every day and every opportunity count.
I have had several opportunities to visit orphanages around the world. Sensory deprivation is one of the saddest childhood conditions to witness. As parents we have the precious opportunity to express affection, intimacy and feedback via touch. From breastfeeding to teaching baby how to hug and kiss. Another way to stimulate babies via touch is by working on modeling our baby signs the opportunities are endless. Don’t miss out!
Happy Valentine’s Day!
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