I don’t know one parent who signs with their baby and doesn’t come across even a little bit of skepticism from others.
Sometimes it comes from outsiders, such as the pediatrician or the parent educator who doesn’t understand the immense benefits that stem from signing with your baby.
Sometimes, it’s closer to home and we may be subject to an unsupportive mother or father-in-law, or even worse, a questioning spouse or partner.
Parents who are starting to sign with their babies are most often excited at the possibilities offered through signing, and can’t wait to ease the frustration their babies (and they) experience. It can be disappointing when others don’t share their enthusiasm, and may lead to discouragement, especially when, as expected, a baby takes weeks to sign back to them.
Some common and negative comments parents hear:
“You’re wasting your time.”
“You’re going to delay her speech.”
“You look silly signing to a baby.”
“Are you teaching him how to talk, too?”
“He’s not signing, he’s waving his arms.”
“That’s great that she can sign, but what words can she say?”
The best way to deal with criticism is smile politely and ignore it. Unless you feel the negative person can be educated to the benefits of signing, it’s best to let the results speak for themselves. I know that my husband was highly critical of Corbin’s ability to sign with us and doubted that it would accomplish anything, but when he signed ‘milk’ for the very first time, he was amazed. He now loves for his family to see his son signing because it’s such an incredible thing to see.
If you feel someone could benefit from enlightenment, tell them what you’re hoping to accomplish with baby signing and encourage them to sign with your baby, too. Show them this website (especially the signing photos) or other materials you have. Introduce them to others who have had great success with signing with their babies.
Above all, don’t let anyone deter you from the ultimate goal – establishing communication before your baby can speak. Your patience, consistency, and praise will do so much more for your child than listening to the negatives.