Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Shelle's question about communicating with my girls

Shelle from BlokThoughts asked this in her comment on my "Chicken or Egg" post: "How do your daughters communicate? Did you teach them sign language? Are they fluent in it?" Sunday from Adventures in Extreme Parenthood also asked me in e-mail almost the same thing as well.

I will tell you was very frustrating for me to try to understand what my daughters were saying as they went through their babbling stage and their mispronounciation of words stage. What most people don't realize is how equally frustrating it can be for them when their daddy cannot comprehend what is being said to him.

You could be thinking "What about his hearing wife?" Yes, she does step in and help clear up the chaotic messages...when she is there. She has a job so she can't be there 24/7. Now, you can see how frustrating it can be for all of us.

My wife and I knew long before we even started thinking about having a family that teaching the babies basic signs would greatly reduce the frustration of expressing their needs. Research has backed that up many times over. Babies do not learn how to speak words for a long while and they need a way to tell us what they need. As you can see, it really doesn't matter if both parents are hearing when it comes to decoding what the baby long as the baby has a way to express it clearly.

Basic signs like "drink", "eat", "milk", "play", and "hold me" helped my girls express their needs. As they grew up, my wife and I would add signs to their vocabulary. The funny thing is...their exponential rate of learning the signs would begin to level off as they start to learn how to speak and form complete sentences.

They seem to prefer to speak to me than to sign to me, forcing me to read their lips. My wife and I have been trying to get them to sign to me so we could understand each other. I would think that the family dynamic is different for us versus those of all-hearing families because of that. How so? Since we are all "bilingual" (meaning we can speak or sign), we can choose how to communicate with each other in the presence of others.

For instance - while my mom was visiting us last week, my wife was ticked off that I hadn't cleaned the dining table off and used sign language to express her feelings. I signed back to her, "My mom may not understand sign language, but she sure can read body language." My body language was that of a calm person.

Imagine how I can choose to deal with my daughters when they misbehave in the public. I can talk to them either in the privacy of sign language or without the privacy by speaking to them. Believe me, they rarely misbehave in the public...because they don't know which way I'll go and they don't want to find out. ;)


Anonymous said...

lol but C is so cute when she signs! I like calling her beautiful when we get the chance to cam lol. I don't think it even phases her, the little turd lol.

DCHY said...

Alex - hehe, I'll tell her what you said. ;)

MommyLovesStilettos said...

I think that's great that you have multiple ways to communicate. I wish my family knew how to sign. I'd love to be able to sign things to my boyfriend when he's ticking me off and I dont want the kids to hear. LOL

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

See I taught my kids basic sign language and oit helped so much in communicating! But it would help like MLS said to be able to sign to my husband when I don't want anyone else to understand what we are talking about! :)

Well do you think you guys will push the signing more do you think? Even though they prefer speaking? I mean just around you or at home?

Sunday said...

I know sign language. But I am pretty limited to under 200 words for most things around the house, commands, and food items.

it helps a lot with my boys and when my best friend started learning with me we can now finger spell words we do not know the sign for and have conversations about if they kids are going to get dessert, etc.

They hate it, but we LOVE it!

I would love to take formal classes someday and become fluent.

DCHY said...

MLS - why not look at colleges for some sign language classes. In fact, I know one in your area. E-mail me for details. :)

Shelle - like I told MLS, look into colleges. Sign language is actually fun to learn. As for my girls, we remind them that it's polite to sign to me so I can understand better. The youngest is TRYING and the older is more of "I forgot the sign". LOL

Sunday - I think it's great that you have someone to sign with and I would recommend that you pick up a spiral-bound "A Basic Course in American Sign Language" book. That way, you can look up some signs and practice with your friend. :)

Emmy said...

Sign language became a huge issue in our house when my oldest learned it from her 3rd grade teacher who happens to be deaf. She taught the kids basic sign to avoid communication issues, then taught more when the kids loved it. Her signing vocabulary was insane by the end of the year proving once again how kids take to new "languages". How did this create issues in our house? My oldest likes to ignore her sister at times, so we have a rule you must answer the question asked. Avoids huge fights between the two. Unless your big sister starts signing the answers back to you - and you don't know sign language.

Your body language comment reminded me of the answer her teacher would give when applying for jobs or talking to parents about their concerns that she couldn't hear what was going on in the room. She pointed out that you can SEE chaos. You can SEE an emergency. Hearing the commotion doesn't always help - and can be more confusing. She just watches body language - and she knows what's going on.

Good post! :)

DCHY said...

Emmy - we do observe things better than most people realize...but we also see things differently in absence of sounds. LOL

Anonymous said...

It sounds like you are instilling the importance of respectful communication with the girls... it will hopefully get better with time.

Autumn said...

it's great that they do both, and i love what you said at the end. it's always the unknown that freaks the kiddos out the most. it's wonderful that they behave well in public as i'm sure that's a frustration you just don't need. it's got to be in interesting dynamic. wow. still fascinated.

DCHY said...

Southerngirl - that's exactly right. We shall see about later on with the girls.

Autumn - hehe, I've been a bad boy so I know what works for me, ;)