It is often said that infants are too young to understand what's going on. While they're in the beginning phase of life, they're just soaking it in.
This train of thought is a discredit to children everywhere. If you've been a parent for any length of time, you know that children are in fact very smart. They can pick the most secure locks, and manipulate almost any situation to achieve their desired outcome. So instead of writing them off as not being able to do much, why not teach a valuable skill?
Sign language was a great help with our oldest daughter. She was a calm infant to begin with, however, after she got the hang of a couple signs, many outbursts were avoided. With that in mind, I've put together my list of pro's and con's for teaching the little one sign language.
- Being able to venture out in public again without fear. Sometimes kid's are unpredictable, and I'm convinced that like many other beasts on this earth, they can smell fear. They know you're apprehensive about taking them into a sit down restaurant, and exploit the situation by screaming, throwing toys on the floor, and being altogether unruly.
- Entertainment. It's very entertaining to watch a child develop their fine motor skills. Seeing the look on their face when they can finally communicate is priceless.
- Pride. As parent's we're always teaching our kids something, either consciously, or subconsciously. Teaching a child sign language is an opportunity that comes along very early in their life. When they finally learn that first sign, you're able to step back and realize that you made it all happen.
- Being too hip and trendy. Although I haven't read much about it recently, teaching your kid sign language seems to be the cat's pajamas, and I just don't like that.
- Time commitment. It takes time, and our family is already busy doing stuff. The kid will learn to talk soon enough.
- ??? I can't think of any other cons. My experience has been nothing but positive. I really had to stretch to think of two cons, because really, it doesn't take that much time. Just start at mealtime. The kid needs to be fed, and it only takes an extra second to show them the appropriate signs (milk, more, all-done, etc.).
If you're a new parent, I hope you give signing a try. It will save a lot of headaches as your child transitions into being a full blown toddler.