Parents: Reduce Those Testy Toddler Tantrums With Sign Language

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Babies and toddlers too young to talk can communicate their needs through ASL and cut down on frustrating tantrums, says authors of the new book "Signing Smart for Babies and Toddlers A Parent's Strategy and Activity Guide." Now in Stores.

Ah, children. They can be a handful! Part of the challenge comes from the frustration they experience when they desperately want to convey their wants and needs to mom and dad but simply lack the words to do so. Now there’s help, thanks to American Sign Language (ASL) and the new book Signing Smart with Babies & Toddlers: A Parent's Strategy and Activity Guide (St. Martin’s Press). This engaging, easy-to-follow book, now in stores, opens up a new world of communication for babies and toddlers and their families.

Drs. Michelle Anthony and Reyna Lindert, co-authors of Signing Smart, have created a wonderfully interactive and educational guidebook -- full of more than 70 easy-to-learn activities -- to help parents playfully integrate signing into everyday life with their hearing children, from their children's first days through toddlerhood and into the preschool years.

Studies by Anthony and Lindert have shown that families who take advantage of the techniques described in this book have children who are able to communicate much earlier than once believed -- some as young as 6 months old! Because of this, children are less frustrated and thus have fewer tantrums. The emotional bond between parent and child is strengthened when communication is easy. Signing enhances children’s speech development and facilitates their ability to learn. And it strengthens an educational foundation that will be built on for years into the future.

"By drawing on the information and activities in Signing Smart, parents will not only learn how to enrich the interactions they naturally have with their children, but will also learn how signing can become a treasure for the whole family to enjoy," say Anthony and Lindert. "The techniques we’ve developed will allow parents to become partners in their children’s development and learn ways to benefit from and enjoy signing for years to come."

Signing Smart also stresses the benefits of using true ASL signs as opposed to simply making up gestures or using "baby-friendly" modified signs. Research done by the authors and their colleagues at the University of California at Berkeley shows that children use the conceptual framework of true signs to more easily and more quickly learn them. In addition, the book describes many simple but effective strategies to help parents adapt true ASL signs, which allows children access to the signs while they are simultaneously playing and exploring. Relying on years of research by the authors and others about the ways young children produce true ASL signs, Signing Smart also makes it easy for parents to recognize and respond to their children's versions of ASL signs.

The book contains a wealth of fun, developmentally appropriate activities that incorporate signs and Signing Smart strategies. The first set complements daily routines (Diapering and Dressing, Mealtime, Bathtime, and Bedtime). The second set enriches moments when parents and children are playing together (Floor Time Play, Active Play, Pretend Play). Insets offer additional information such as answers to questions parents frequently ask, troubleshooting tips, details about child development, and activity extenders.

Throughout the book are numerous parent-child photos—so readers can not only see how to implement the strategies, but also see likely child versions of the suggested signs. Appendixes include a photographic dictionary of 130 signs; an index of likely child versions of signs; a list of additional resources for parents; and an index of frequently asked questions.

Parents and professionals who are excited to make a difference in the lives of young children are encouraged to learn more about becoming part of the Signing Smart Instructor Team. To learn more about Signing Smart's comprehensive and extensive line of instructor materials, visit http://www.signingsmart.com.

Backed by more than 25 combined years of expertise in early language development and building on their experiences as early childhood teachers, parent educators, Ph.D.s in Development Psychology, certified ASL users and, most importantly, mothers, Michelle Anthony and Reyna Lindert developed the Signing Smart program to help parents and professionals facilitate development in young hearing children and promote parent-child communication from the very start. They live with their husbands and signing children in Centennial, CO, and Beaverton, OR, respectively.

SIGNING SMART WITH BABIES AND TODDLERS

A Parent’s Strategy and Activity Guide

By Michelle Anthony, M.A., Ph.D., and

Reyna Lindert, Ph.D.

Family & Child Care/ $15.95/ 0-312-33703-2/ 256 pages

St. Martins Griffin/ Trade Paperback Original/ Pub date: May 17th, 2005

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