By Shira Fogel
By now, you have most likely heard that using sign language with your hearing baby is a wonderful way to raise their IQ and help them get a jump start on their verbal communication skills. These are all wonderful gifts that you give to your child. However, there is another advantage that is quite possibly the biggest benefit of them all: boosting the bond with your child and therefore creating greater emotional intelligence.
Emotions such as happiness, sadness and empathy are all shaped by how your infant is cared for and nurtured. Having a strong bond with your baby doesn’t just reassure him, it actually affects the biological systems that help him adapt to stress. Although this process continues to develop as children get older, these early experiences are essential for establishing your child’s emotional wiring in their brain. Simply put, teaching your baby how to sign is good for their brain and overall development!
You can start signing with your child anytime you want. However, babies tend to develop the gross motor skills to be able to shape their hands and make signs generally starting around 6 months of age. Your baby will learn sign language in the same manner in which they learn your spoken language. Much like words, your child will understand signs long before she is ready to use it, making it a practical activity even if she is not yet signing back to you.
Don’t wait until your child is truly struggling to speak…empower them with the gift to communicate their needs early on in their lives. You’ll both be happy you did!
If you are interested in learning more about baby sign language, Shira Fogel, founder of Tiny Talkers, will be offering Baby Sign Language 101 Workshops for parents and caregivers at Zenana August 9th. Go to www.TinyTalkersPortland.com for more information and to pre-register.
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