The ability to communicate leads to less frustration on the part of the child. At the most basic level, when a child can sign EAT instead of grunting and pointing, that child gets fed, and life is good for everyone.
Those “Terrible Twos:” This period of child’s life, from about 18 months to just shy of age 3 (or longer for some) holds lots of challenges. It is a period that is defined in part by a child’s rapid development, and often marked by frustration with his or her inability to communicate and get needs met. The beginnings of independence combine for what can be a trying period for child and parents.
Giving your child signs short-circuits some of the ‘growing pains’ of this period of life for children. Having used sign language with my own children, I can attest to this. The screaming and pointing and dissolving to tears when words weren’t available were largely absent from our lives. Don’t get me wrong, when the idea was communicated but the request refused, there was still frustration, but it wasn’t because we couldn’t understand each other. That’s a different thing altogether.
Have you ever witnessed a baby or toddler who is desperately trying to tell their parents something, and see that the parents are desperately trying to understand, guess, or somehow divine what that child is trying to communicate to them? Or maybe you’ve been that parent? The longer it takes to make that connection, that communication, the harder it is for everyone involved. In a public place, this can get ugly. You know what I mean.
Granted, this scene may never be entirely avoidable, but sign language (even just a handful of signs) really can make a difference in the lives of families with little ones.