When we talk about baby sign language, it is often in light of our pre-verbal child who is hard at work learning to communicate basic needs. We mostly focus our teaching and learning on signs that empower like food or objects that are meaningful to our baby. As our babies grow, in particular when they are approaching the “terrible twos” we may want to shift focus and expand their signing vocabulary in a way that facilitates and encourages emotional connections with those around them.
Emotional connections for babies and toddlers can be achieved when our babies have words or signs that allow them to convey how they feel, as well as signs that equip them to serve, care and encourage others.
Let’s take a look at ten signs that can help your toddler better connect with caregivers, family members, educators and peers:
Teaching our toddler to sign afraid will allow him to quickly seek help, comfort and refuge in moments of high stress.
Signing: Afraid starts with your hands by your sides. Then you bring your hands up in front of your body, palms facing inward and fingers spread. The sign looks a lot like you just got a big fright.
You can find the free printable flash card for the sign Afraid here.
Teaching your baby signs that can facilitate effective social interactions often leads to a child that is welcome in a variety of social settings. The natural drive of a little one is generally aimed at survival making the sign take turns something that we want to teach later rather than earlier.
Signing: To sign take turns your dominant hand forms the letter L with the thumb up and fingers stretched. You start the motion close to your chest and move your hand toward the other party and back to you as if in pointing whose turn it is.
You can find the free printable flash card for the sign Take Turns here.
The sign for listen works both ways. It allows your toddler to ask for your attention and invites him to focus on others when applicable. For example, you can encourage your toddler to listen to a friend while it is their turn to speak.
Signing: Point at your ear with your index finger. Alternatively, you can cup your hand to your ear as if you are straining to hear.
You can find the free printable flash card for the sign Listen here.
This is a sign you may want to introduce only if your child displays aggressive behaviors. By having a code by which you can encourage good behavior without embarrassing your child you give him or her an advantage and the opportunity to quickly correct their behavior and move forward with social interactions in a positive note.
Signing: To sign don’t hit you will punch your index of the non-dominant hand with your dominant fist while moving your head side to side communicating a negation.
You can review a video of the sign for don’t hit here.
Showing our babies how to communicate a sense of repentance for something that may have offended or caused pain to a fellow human is essential when building empathy. Because this is a complex concept to grasp we teach it by example and repetition. We express how sorry we are when we realize we have wronged our baby or another person.
Signing: To sign sorry, make your hand into a fist and rub it in a circular motion across your chest. It is like you are rubbing around your heart because you are truly sorry.
You can find the printable flash card for the sign Sorry here.
Now that you have learned the basics let’s add these other emotional and relational signs to our signing repertoire:
Are you ready to get started? Why not buy the Ultra Baby Sign Language Kit. The kit includes 12 excellent resources that will take your baby from birth until preschool as you explore together the joys of communication.
Our Most Complete Kit. The Ultra Baby Sign Language Kit is our most comprehensive kit and includes everything you need to teach your baby to sign. The kit includes:
• Baby Signing Time! DVDs Vol. 1 – 4 (4 DVDs & 4 CDs) – baby learns new signs while enjoying Rachel Coleman’s award-winning songs. DVDs and bonus CDs are included for fun at home and on the run.
• Baby Signing Time! Board Books Vol. 1 – 4 – enjoy the benefits of reading plus signing while keeping baby entertained.
• BSL Guide Book – learn to sign faster and have more fun. The book begins with a Quick Start Guide that will teach you your first signs and have you ready to sign in 30 minutes. As your baby progresses, you can delve into more advanced topics like combining signs to make phrases, using props, and transitioning from signing to speaking.
• Signing Dictionary – contains over 600 signs including the most common words, the alphabet, and numbers. The dictionary helps you expand your child’s vocabulary and has the breadth of coverage that lets you follow your child’s interests. Each sign is illustrated with two diagrams, showing you the starting position, the ending position, and intermediate motion.
• Flash Cards – 52 sturdy board (4×6 inches) flash cards, covering a variety of basic signs. The flash cards allow you to teach words such as animal names, that Baby is not exposed to in everyday life. The face of each flash card shows the word and image for the child. The back of each flash card shows how the sign is performed, a convenient reminder for the adult.
• Wall Chart – the 24′ x 36′ wall chart includes 17 basic signs, and is a great resource for caregivers. The Baby Sign Language Wall Chart covers basic signs, like eat, drink, and sleep. Hang the poster in Baby’s Nursery to help babysitters, or other occasional caregivers learn and decode the most commonly used baby signs.