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Teaching Your Toddler to Communicate with Sign Language


merrily

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Or another piece of wisdom from Michelle's wise parental knowledge.

Our little ones can get frustrated as they’re learning to talk because they understand more than they’re able to communicate with speech. They get what you’re saying, but they’re not able to really respond with words right away. Imagine how frustrating that would be! One way to help our little ones communicate while they learn to talk is through sign language. Instead of screaming for what they want, they learn a little sign language to help ask for things. Even though they might not be able speak yet, they can easily learn to sign. Toddlers are sharp! They know more than we give them credit for. It really doesn’t take them long at all. In our home, we’ll teach the toddlers some basic words like: more, please, all done, yes, no, thank you, mommy, and daddy. It really helps us all to communicate.

As I’m teaching Josie a sign with her hands, I’ll sign it back to her and speak the word out loud. We just keep repeating it until she’s got it. It helps to make a game out of it with little rewards, like cereal bites. As Josie reaches for more cereal, we’ll work on learning a sign like “More.†I’ll do it first, say the word and then show her how to make the sign with her little hands.

If she screams or grabs for the cereal, she won’t get it until she asks for it. I just always make that a rule. If you cry or scream, you won’t get it. So you have to try it again. We’ll practice three or four times, so she’ll realize that the squeal just didn’t get her what she wanted. But the sign language did. This is why the little ones get the reward. It’s because they signed it. And they all practice it and learn they can get what they want when they ask the right way. It really doesn’t take long at all and often turns into a skill that the kids keep with them into adulthood.

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This isn't something unique to fundies - or to any religious denomination. It's actually very popular these days.. I didn't do it with my toddler, but he started speaking at 12 months and developed a huge working vocabulary quickly - we didn't need signs.

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I did this 15 years ago. It was recommended to me by speech pathologists for my second son, for the interim before he was able to start speaking. I did it as well with my third son because of how successful it was with the second. It was really great. Saved everyone a lot of frustration. The kids love being able to get their point across when they're not yet physically able to speak.

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Yeah, baby/toddler sign is pretty popular. We started with our daughter at 4-5 months, making a few signs only, and she started signing herself at around 6-7 months. She has quite the ASL vocabulary now at 2.5 and in our opinion her ability to sign has avoided crying and frustration- especially during the stage where their verbal skills haven't quite caught up to what they want or need to communicate. She's now well past that and speaks in full sentences with a wide vocabulary, but she can also chain together signs if she wants to. Our pediatrician was fully in favor of signing, and Little Bug learning ASL didn't impede her verbal/speech skills in any way. We plan to sign with our next baby too.

A broken clock is right twice a day, and in this case I don't think the Duggars are doing anything wrong by teaching (or rather, having the J'slaves teach) their toddlers signing.

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I've never actually seen Michelle do anything with Josie on the show, aside from taking her for camera ops to the doctor. And poor Jordyn.... isn't she the one having more serious difficulties with language?

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I don't remember the episode, but I did see Josie happily and purposefully doing the sign for "more" with Michelle shrieking "MORE?! YOU WANT MORE?!" at her in her usual high pitched voice, and then Josie was rewarded with more whatever. I remember particularly because I was surprised that Michelle had actually taught Josie/them the correct sign for "more," and not just something she pulled out of her ass. So this, at least, is happening.

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See it's stuff like this that make me think Michelle can at times be a good mom I think she just has too many kids to really be the kind of mother she could have been if she's had the option of stopping when she started to feel overwhelmed her kids might have been better off for it.

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I wonder if they learn baby sign or actual ASL. They are two different things. Baby sign uses the same movements but they sometimes mean different things.

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See it's stuff like this that make me think Michelle can at times be a good mom I think she just has too many kids to really be the kind of mother she could have been if she's had the option of stopping when she started to feel overwhelmed her kids might have been better off for it.

She would have blanket trained if she only had two. Hitting your kids = awful mother.

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ASL is a good language to learn esp since most people experience hearing loss in their later years. You can really start it at birth- I do know someone who did it with all 3 of his kids and each child was definately using signs at 4 months of age. He did at one time show a video of it and it was definately there! My DD will be teaching sign to her baby when it is born because we have hereditary hearing loss in our family and we want to make sure the next generation is proficient in ASL

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She would have blanket trained if she only had two. Hitting your kids = awful mother.

She did blanket train the first batch of them.

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I wonder if they learn baby sign or actual ASL. They are two different things. Baby sign uses the same movements but they sometimes mean different things.

This. I can't believe they actually teach a vocabulary of ASL to the kids, just a handful of baby signs that lots of people use. I can also believe that Michelle did this with Josie because she actually spent one-on-one time with her past the six month mark, and I would imagine it was encouraged by her doctors because they could anticipate delays even if Michelle refuses to. Just one more thing that they could have been doing with lots of their babies, especially the less vocal ones like Jenny and Jordyn, but Mother of the Year had no idea about it until her 19th child.

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Baby signing has more in common with Makato than sign language from any country. It has vocabulary but no grammar so isnt a language. ASL has grammar not simply words.

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She would have blanket trained if she only had two. Hitting your kids = awful mother.

I worded that badly mostly because my smartphone wanted to be not so smart and the keyboard kept locking up. What I really meant was if she hadn't gotten into Quiverful and Bill Gothard and the Pearls nonsense I think Michelle could have been a good loving mother to four or five kids. I could imagine her being a more mainstream Christian mom, having several kids, and homeschooling them using some other curriculum besides ATI, and me actually liking her. If their beliefs were more mainstream and they dropped the whole modesty, submission and beating their kids stuff I wouldn't give a shit how many kids she had as long as she and Jim Bob raised them, and they could afford to properly care for them all.

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My son did sign when he was a baby, too. It's a great way to teach them to express themselves while their verbal skills are building.

Also, chubby little baby hands signaling "more" is pretty much the cutest thing on the planet.

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Teaching children a few signs to encourage language and reduce frustration early in life is nothing weird. I don't see why people are making a big deal over it not being ASL, since obviously that child does not need ASL and true ASL is difficult and anyone who is not part of the deaf community is probably not entirely fluent in it.

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I worded that badly mostly because my smartphone wanted to be not so smart and the keyboard kept locking up. What I really meant was if she hadn't gotten into Quiverful and Bill Gothard and the Pearls nonsense I think Michelle could have been a good loving mother to four or five kids. I could imagine her being a more mainstream Christian mom, having several kids, and homeschooling them using some other curriculum besides ATI, and me actually liking her. If their beliefs were more mainstream and they dropped the whole modesty, submission and beating their kids stuff I wouldn't give a shit how many kids she had as long as she and Jim Bob raised them, and they could afford to properly care for them all.

I agree. She could have been a great mom to 4-5 kids (though 2-3 really seem to be more her limit) if she'd stuck with fundie-lite and avoided Gothard, the Pearls and the horrific blanket training. I've often wondered what her life would have been like if she hadn't met and married Jim Bob. He was always a patriarchal, fundie freak, which is surprising because his parents weren't and his sister certainly isn't, but she at least had the opportunity to be a cheerleader, go to school, participate in sports and lead a normal life. Now she's like the convert who's more devout than the birthright believer. I can't believe there was ever a time I thought they were a strange but relatively harmless family.

On further reflection maybe she and Jim Bob would have been okay if they hadn't listened to that stupid doctor who told them her miscarriage was due to taking BC pills. Prior to that they seemed to think family planning was a-okay.

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My son did sign when he was a baby, too. It's a great way to teach them to express themselves while their verbal skills are building.

Also, chubby little baby hands signaling "more" is pretty much the cutest thing on the planet.

Agreed. It is SO CUTE! A bunch of my friends teach their kids to sign, because it's an easier way to bridge the gap when the child is developmentally delayed and learning a new language (we're talking international special needs adoptions here). I've definitely been outsigned by a 5 year old. But watching them sign "dirty" when they're covered in pasta sauce is SO precious!

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Agreed. It is SO CUTE! A bunch of my friends teach their kids to sign, because it's an easier way to bridge the gap when the child is developmentally delayed and learning a new language (we're talking international special needs adoptions here). I've definitely been outsigned by a 5 year old. But watching them sign "dirty" when they're covered in pasta sauce is SO precious!

Oh god, now you're going to make my cold, black heart melt... I'm off to youtube to see if can find some of this yummy, chubby goodness... swoon.

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I wonder if they learn baby sign or actual ASL. They are two different things. Baby sign uses the same movements but they sometimes mean different things.

A combination of both.

My friends daughter (who has speech delays, due to chronic ear infections) didn't start speaking until she was nearly 2. So she used a combination of ASL and made up signs.

A few other people that I know do it? Strictly do ASL. But it's not like they're learning whole sentences. They learn the word "Bottle" or "Milk" for when they are hungry. Things like that. Just one word to get the point across.

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I did this 15 years ago. It was recommended to me by speech pathologists for my second son, for the interim before he was able to start speaking. I did it as well with my third son because of how successful it was with the second. It was really great. Saved everyone a lot of frustration. The kids love being able to get their point across when they're not yet physically able to speak.

As a grandma, I love that my grandchildren were taught baby signs. As little babies, about 8 months or so, they could tell me what they wanted. As toddlers, we could resort to it when I couldn't figure out what their words were.

Just because a kid starts talking at 12 months doesn't mean baby signs couldn't have been helpful before that.

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I've found baby signs to be useful with both my kids. Especially when they were/are in childcare (ebil working mom here) or with grandma, and the caregiver can't understand their early words as well as mommy can.

I love the chubby hands signing "more". And the proud grin when they realize they can get what they want by communicating. Really sweet.

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I always had a "whatever" attitude towards baby sign because I had two early talkers. Then- I had a late talker. Boy do I wish I had gone ahead with the baby sign. Probably would have saved me hours of frustrated screaming.

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A cousin of mine used to do ASL interpreting. She and some in that field are ok with baby signing because they see that it can be helpful in a lot of situations. Baby signing is used by a lot of different groups. Another cousin of mine taught baby signing to his daughter. He and his wife are liberal hippie types. Their daughter is 9 and is learning ASL. There is a blogger that I'm following who has a son with Down syndrome. They use baby signing and it seems to help them quite a bit, since the boy isn't talking at this point.

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My fundy brother and SIL are into this. Sadly their little one is now past two and still mostly communicates in signs (a very limited amount, which is all her mother taught her). They greatly encouraged me to teach my children this way, but it wasn't for me. Interestingly, my children have been more talkative/had a wider vocabulary at the corresponding age to their daughter's current age (mine are older, so it wasn't at the same time). But, I believe that children all develop differently, even within the range of "normal," so I'm not judging their daughter nor saying that she wouldn't be talking this *little* even if she hadn't been taught the sign language. It just is what it is.

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