How to Teach a Toddler to Sign More: 3 Steps - MakeSureHow
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Siblings will sign together to communicate.

We all want our toddlers to start talking to us more, but what if they haven't reached that stage of development? Many children won't begin speaking well until after their second birthday. There's no need to have to deal with toddler tantrums because you two can't communicate. That's where signing comes in. Sign language is a great way to communicate with young children at any stage of development.


  1. 1
    Choose baby sign language or American Sign Language (ASL). Baby sign language normally uses modified signs to make it easier for babies and developmentally delayed children to sign. American Sign Language is now being accepted as a second language in many high schools, so if you're thinking long-term, this might be the best route. Babies and toddlers will often modify the signs on their own or even make up their own signs once they are comfortable signing. It is up to you which type of sign language you'd like to use, but keep in mind that more people outside of your family will understand ASL signs.
  2. 2
    Read sign language books, watch sign language DVDs, or take a class together. You both need to learn the language and the best way to do it is together. Make the experience interactive and fun and demonstrate the signs. Encourage your little one to copy what you do. DVDs are great for live instruction and help the both of you learn quickly. Classes are a fun activity to do, but attending once a week or less will make it take longer to learn. Books are good for toddlers who will sit and pay attention, but they are harder to learn from.
  3. 3
    Practice your signs together. Use sign language during every interaction you have with your toddler. Take the time to point out objects throughout the day and demonstrate the correct sign for each one. Also, ask your toddler to name the objects you are learning signs for and encourage signing in response.


  • Teach the signs for the words your toddler cares the most about, first. Your toddler may be most interested in signing words like "milk," "hungry," "bear," "car" and "dog."Don't push your child if he doesn't seem interested in signing or learning to sign. Simply continue to sign every day and eventually your child will begin signing, too.


  • Stop while it's still fun. If your little one shows resistance to signing and gets frustrated or upset, it could cause your child to avoid signing.

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Categories: Education and Communications

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