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Kicking, pinching, biting I’m giving the sign “Let’s play!”

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Oh well. A well-aimed kick, bite marks or a spot from a pinch. You would love to return the favour, but you can’t. On the contrary you propose: “Let’s go play.” And you’re almost done. But what if your child is not even two years old or even 14 months old and can’t talk? No matter, try using signs.

We were at the playground with Eliška when it happened. I heard an atrocious cry and saw how a little devil is holding Eli by the hair and was pulling her about. I jumped up and quickly released her little claws. Eli was crying and the little devil was despairingly fussing about. “Can’t you say: ‘Come play.’ Instead of pulling her hair?” No response. She was just looking at me with unhappy eyes and I knew I had answered my own question.

“You know what?” I told her. “Do it like this next time.”, and I taught the little devil the symbol for “Come play”. The despair in her eyes was substituted by curiosity and interest. Then she ran off.

The act of aggression is a substitute for the child’s inability to express himself naturally. If you give him a chance to express himself using symbols, you will see aggression replaced by empathy and you will feel his relief when he expresses sadness. From experience, I can say that the inability to express, to show empathy and to increase the number of those who understand him/her gave children immense pleasure and it entirely satisfied them. On the contrary, we gain a feeling of pleasure from understanding how children perceive the world around us.

The author of the symbol language for infants* (also the author of the book Baby Minds** ) adds: “Sign language builds self-confidence, allows learning and calls attention to things which interest the child. They are able to communicate better with those they are closest to and vice versa. And last but not least, it lowers the frustration caused by the inability to express oneself. An indispensable aspect is also the benefit for future language learning and exercising memory.


*Baby signs **Baby Minds, Linda Acredolo and Susan Goodwyn, Bantam Book, 2000

Author: Lenka Míkovcová

Translation: Marek Hubbell

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