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Benefits of Teaching Sign Language

Many parents of the 21st century are teaching their babies sign language starting as early as six months of age.  What are the benefits of teaching your baby sign language?

Good communication.  You want to understand what your baby is thinking, feeling, wanting, and needing.  Babies can learn and communicate through sign language even in their pre-verbal stage of development, thus you and your baby can more effectively communicate earlier in your baby’s life when using sign language.  If your baby is crying and not able to communicate by sign language or the spoken word, you must guess what your baby wants or needs.  However, if your baby can communicate via sign language, she can sign “milk”.  Once you understand what your baby wants, you can provide the milk to your baby.

Happier baby.  When your baby is able to express her wants and needs, you can then seek to meet those wants and needs.  This reduces the frequency of tantrums and other manifestations of your baby’s frustration.  In the example above, once your baby receives the milk she needs, she will stop crying because her need is met and she is happily drinking.

Competency, Control, and Self-Esteem.  Babies who can communicate in this manner not only feel less frustration and anger, they also develop an earlier sense of competency and control (i.e., “I am capable of expressing my wants and needs, of getting my wants and needs met.”).  Experts opine that this can lead to early development of self-esteem.

Happier you.  You too feel less frustration over communication challenges with your baby and temper tantrums displayed by your baby.  Thus, opening the channels of communication facilitates parent-child bonding.

Better communication skills throughout life.  Experts theorize that babies’ early use of sign language communication may increase verbal and written communication skills as the babies mature.  For example, most baby signers begin speaking earlier than babies that do not sign.

Discreet communication.  An added benefit to teaching your baby sign language is your ability to redirect your child’s behavior discreetly in public.  Picture this:  you and your family are dining in a restaurant with your boss, her husband, and their children.  Your child, now a toddler, is squirmy.  You can sign to your child that you would like her to sit still.  Your child can then sign back that she needs to visit the restroom.  You can then address your concern as well as hers in a discreet, polite manner.

Communication despite difficulties.  And, of course, the most obvious benefit of teaching your baby sign language is enabling her to communicate effectively in noisy environments, with people who have hearing impairments, etc.

In sum, there are many benefits to teaching your baby sign language.  These are but a few of the most important benefits.  By opening up communication with your baby, you open up a world of possibilities for both of you!

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