Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Mine...No, Mine!

Something great about Signing Smart is that we talk a bit about typical child development, not just about signs. One topic that typically comes up is sharing.  I think we all want our children to be polite and have sweet personalities; sharing is just one way we want them to show that to the world.  Most, if not all, children have a pretty difficult time sharing at some point, though.  Why is it that our pleas of  "please share" seem to go unheard?

We've all seen it......a child who's 2, 3, maybe even older,tugging on one side o f a favorite toy. Another child, perhaps older, perhaps not, tugging just has fervently on the opposite end - each toy trying to win the chance to play with it.  Sometimes it gets more heated and pushing, biting or other unwanted behaviors come into play.  Perhaps "no, that's mine" is as common a phrase in your home as it is in mine right now. Maybe, just maybe, you're nearing the point where you want to scream something you'd rather not.  Perchance you've resorted to threats like "if you can't share your toys, I'm taking them all away!" 

The problem is, sharing is much more complex than it appears on the surface.  The concept isn't really solidified until a child is 3 or 4 years old (even older for some). A younger child doesn't yet understand that, when they give that toy to someone else, they will get it back.  They're belief is that by handing it to someone else, it's gone -forever. It takes some time for social and emotional development and also experience with receiving the toy back to strengthen the concept.

To really understand the idea of sharing, requires what is called "Theory of Mind." A child must be able to understand a situation from the other person's perspective - and therefore that someone else's thoughts are different than their own. He or she must have concern for that other person. He or she must also be able to delay gratification. That's quite a task for a little body!

Not to mention, there are lots of other things happening simultaneously: new found independence, testing boundaries, etc.

There are things you can do, starting in infancy, to help build the concept, though. The most basic level of understanding starts when your child gives you something and you return it.  That simple act creates the foundation for sharing! Each time you are a good model of sharing, you are also helping your child learn to share. As the concept is developing in those growing minds, it also helps to talk about things concretely, in terms they can understand.  We learn the sign for TAKE-TURNS in Signing Smart play class.  In the beginning, you may need to do more direction - "It's Jimmy's turn to play with the blue CAR right now.  In 2 minutes it will be your turn. You can play with the green truck for now." (Fast forward 2 minutes) "OK, Jimmy, you had a great turn, now it's Billy's turn to play with the blue CAR. Would you like to have a turn with the green truck?"  As they grow, develop, and have several chances to experience the process, you can start to be less hands on. (It also helps to have something for everyone to do, even if it's not the first choice.)

Catch your kiddo being good!  When you see Billy and Jimmy sharing or taking turns without being prompted, make a big deal about it! Just like we make a big deal about the first sign, new signs, and lots more in between, make a big deal with you catch your child being good.  They want to see that reaction again, so they'll work hard to make it happen.

All this to say - it's probably not practical for you to have 2 or 3 (or more!) of everything so that everyone can have their first choice toy at all times.  But, from early on, there are things you can do to support and develop the skills to keep everybody engaged and happy.

What are your favorite ways to avoid fights and tears over sharing and taking turns?

Here are the websites that helped me with my research:

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Pictures Please!

ASL is a visual language, so it would make perfect sense to have lots of pictures to help illustrate my posts.  My bigger signer is definitely camera shy, though.  As in, as soon as he knows a camera present, he will stop doing whatever cute thing he's doing. If I ask him to do something just so I can get a picture of it, forget it! Frustrating?  Sometimes, but he's been that way almost since day one.

Have pictures of your Signing Smart kiddo signing that you took (or have the rights to)?  I'd love it if you'd share with me (and the world).  Please e-mail me so we can take care of the logistics :)

How do you make sure you're able to capture those photogenic moments before your little one decides not to cooperate?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

*Milestone Alert*

I'm celebrating with my own newest signer today!  Mr. L. showed us his first sign yesterday, MORE! We were bouncing on the bed and he was really into it!

Once again, someone forgot to tell my kid to read the text book.  I'm always teaching that the "useful" signs will come after the "interesting" ones.  Mr. I.'s first sign was ALL-DONE, and Mr. L. now with MORE.  Oh well, so much for what's "supposed" to happen.

Let me celebrate your little one's milestones with you!  Please share your first signs, language explosions, birthdays, first steps, etc. so the rest of the extended Signing Smart family can honor your little ones' accomplishments too!

What was your little one's first sign? 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Look What I Can Do!

Little ones go though so many developmental stages during their first years of life, it can seem like they're learning, and doing new things almost every day sometimes.

Just in the first year of life, a typically developing baby will learn to: (
  • drink from a cup with help
  • feed him/herself finger food like raisins or bread crumbs
  • grasp small objects by using her thumb and index or forefinger
  • use his/her first finger to poke or point
  • put small blocks in and take them out of a container
  • knock two blocks together
  • sit well without support
  • crawl on hands and knees
  • pull to standing or take steps holding onto furniture
  • stand alone momentarily
  • walk with one hand held
  • cooperate with dressing by offering a foot or an arm
  • copy sounds and actions 
  • respond to music with body motion
  • try to accomplish simple goals (seeing and then crawling to a toy)
  • look for an object she watched fall out of sight (such as a spoon that falls under the table)
  • babble, but it sometimes "sounds like" talking
  • say his first word
  • recognize family members' names
  • try to "talk" with you
  • respond to another's distress by showing distress or crying
  • show affection to familiar adults
  • show mild to severe anxiety at separation from parent
  • show apprehension about strangers
  • raise her arms when she wants to be picked up
  • understand simple commands all of the developments that must precede these milestones, and more!

Babies will also likely get at least one tooth, experience a few illnesses, and take in an almost innumerable number of "first" experiences. Even more, Signing Smart families will notice even more advancements in their child's language and social skills development during this time.

Each time one of these new developments appear, you might notice some of your little one's signs and words disappear for a while.  Don't fret too much.  While it can be frustrating to lose your communication link for a while, it will come back after the development emerges.

  • What new developments has your little one started showing off lately?
  • Have you noticed your little one lose some of his or her language skills while going through a new development? Have you notice he or she also loses some of the other skills he or she had for a short while?
  • What are you favorite ways to help yourself, your little one, and those around you handle the tough parts of reaching new developmental milestones?