Many of the key people around Helena learned some of her signs as well. Usually initiated by recognizing that she was saying something to them, they in turn looked to me for a translation. I loved the delight of Helena sharing the pure energy of communication.
We also created signs for the people around Helena. How incredibly difficult it is to express interest or concern about a person who is absent. Giving signs for Mum, Dad, and the important people in Helena’s life gave her a way to “talk” about the people she loved. It is unbelievably easy to reassure a child that Dad is on his way home, when your child signs Dad at the end of the day. Imagine the comfort you can give just by giving a few sentences about that person. An entire conversation can be initiated by having that one sign.
Long after words came along to replace the signs, many of the signs stayed on. They had a great resurgence with the birth of Isaac, when Helena was 3 ½ years old. She loved using and teaching the signs. Funny enough, Isaac was a very early talker, and at height of his signing ability, had about 20 regular signs, his favourite being Mummy milk.
By the time my children were 6 and 9 years old, we had a small group of signs that were still around. Once a child no longer needs a sign it naturally goes. Isn’t it interesting which signs they still find useful? For us, Mummy milk is the same sign, but it’s meaning has morphed into Mum, cuddle me now!
Realizing how many lights are well and truly on in your child before they can speak is the most enthralling part of signing. It gives you a glimpse into your child’s already rich, creative, inquisitive and emotional world.
Signing is so intuitive and fundamental that you are already doing it, perhaps without realizing. Which signs do you already have? Which signs will you begin to create for your family?
In Part 2, I’ll share more about Emotional Intelligence and using signs to encourage understanding and acceptance of the full range of emotions of being human. There is great power in using sign language to express emotions. It makes sense. Emotions are difficult to put into words, not just for pre-verbal toddlers but for kids, teens and yes, adults too.
Hi, I’m Bex Cashman, founder of goodbye PRODUCTS. As a natural product maker, I get to share the things I care about. My children, John, business and garden keep me fully engaged in a work of bringing forward the best of myself, and what I know. I believe in humanity, regardless of our displays of dysfunction. We can re-learn the truth about ourselves. We are natural beings, and we feel better when we acknowledge and live in tune with that truth. Put down your cell phone and pull up a sunset. There is joy to be discovered.