Monday, April 15, 2013

From Uterus to University - I'm a Signer, Not a Biter

Little Monkey signing "more". 
Recently, Little Monkey was playing with a precious little person who is a considerably younger than him.  They were getting along well riding trikes one minute and Little Monkey was screaming the next minute.  The precious little person had become a piranha and Little Monkey was the recipient of a bite.  Ouch!

Let's back up a bit before the bite.  The precious little person is at an age where he knows what he wants to say and he can understand everything everyone else says (receptive language), but he is not able to say what he wants to say just yet (expressive language) because he is just beginning to articulate words and build his vocabulary.  So, when it was time for their playdate to end, the precious little person was very frustrated, and since he couldn't protest with words and tell everyone that he wanted more time to play, he protested with his teeth. Chomp!

Childhood biting is extremely common and yet it is very uncomfortable for all parties involved.  In my former life as a Speech and Language Pathologist, I often encountered children who bit.  One boy actually bit a hole in my skirt one day when he had enough of therapy.  Knowing what you want to say and not being able to verbalize it is frustrating.  To ease this frustration (and save my wardrobe) I taught the children to communicate with sign language.  Biting always decreased or ceased all together when the child had an avenue to express themselves.  Awesome!

So, when I became a mom, I knew that we would utilize sign language as a communication tool for our monkeys.  From the time that they were itty bitty, we began teaching each monkey basic American Sign Language.  The most common signs that we utilized were "more", "eat", "drink", and "finished".  We were amazed at how quickly our monkeys learned the signs and how often they used them.  I truly believe that we avoided many a melt down or bite because our kids could sign what was on their minds.  Of course, we still had our "special moments" complete with flailing, screaming and a bite or two, but that's just life. 

I highly recommend sign language for little people.  There are tons of resources out there for parents and caregivers to tap into.  You do not have to be a teacher or a SLP to teach a little one some basic signs.  Our older monkeys were part of our teaching team and Little Monkey was a model student. 

Little Monkey's teachers

Here is a video of Little Monkey learning his very first sign...

And now I am signing "more", "more" because I can't believe that Little Monkey is so big now and his brother and sister are all grown up and stuff. And I want "more" of that preciousness.  I can't believe time has just flown by so fast, I want "more" time with them. It makes me so worked up and emotional that I just want to...want to... bite something!!!



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