Empowerment Notes

Start sign language early

Each day, in a variety of ways, we communicate with our children. Those moments that go beyond spoken language. It’s in our tone of voice, our body language (I am told I have a “mom look”), our gestures and so much more. So here is a new communication strategy to try … sign language.

New research is out the demonstrates the benefits of using sign language with infants. Its purpose is a different form of communication with little ones about their unmet needs. It aids in social development, communication and bonding.

Children begin to connect the sounds of words with their meaning at age 6-8 months. So let’s consider the benefits of signing with your child from an early age.

Build a stronger bond

Signing closes the gap between misunderstanding and understanding. Benefits reported by babysignlanguage.com also include: parents and children that sign report feeling closer and more tuned in to each other, babies that sign have fewer moments of distress, and parents report feeling better about themselves and more confident about parenting. It has the potential to increase the feeling of closeness in a whole new way.

Reduce Tantrums

Who doesn’t want less tantrums? Dr. Joseph Garcia, who founded the “Sign With Your Baby” system tells, says that a baby’s brain is fully capable of learning to sign, and “the more signs babies learn, the more it could reduce those tantrums that come with the terrible twos [because] they’re not as frustrated with communicating what’s on their minds.” Families that sign report that both parents and child experience less frustration. Together you can figure out needs and wants before a tantrum occurs. Less tantrums means more quality time to spend as a family.

Brain Development

A recent study claims that babies who sign may have a higher IQ by as much as 12 points over the long-term. The research suggests that reasoning skills, coupled with language, helps develop an expanded vocabulary. In turn, those kids read earlier, better, and go on to do better in school.

Language Development

While some parents are concerned that a child may become to dependent on the sign languages and speak less, research suggests otherwise. Saying the word, paired with the sing language increases a child’s language development. Children who see and hear the word, often speak sooner. It also helps establishes eye contact and fosters greater social skills. Research also suggests that when a child learns how to speak the word, they often lose the sign language gesture.

Boost Confidence

Sign language helps improve confidence and self-esteem. If your baby can communicate their needs, they’re bound to feel good about themselves. Coupled with less tantrums and a stronger bond with their parent(s), will make any child more confident.

The Mayo Clinic reports that parents/caregivers should be realistic with expectations, persistent with the repetition of speaking and signing those common words, and most of all, remain patient.

I really hope you consider this method of communication with your little one. If you are interested on more information or videos on learning or teaching sign language, visit http://signingupllc.com


Carrie Kube is a director for Iowa River Valley Early Childhood Area Board. All thoughts and opinions expressed are that of the author and not the board and/or its community partners.