building communication skills at a young age: important signs to teach your child

Every child communicates differently. Some learn to talk very early and some learn to talk after the age of 2 but that is very normal. Remember parents, just because they are not saying any words does not mean they don’t know how to communicate. There are various ways kids can communicate with their parents including words, gestures, facial expressions and simply pointing to things they want or want to do. Raising Ayven, we learned that teaching him basic sign language was a critical factor to his communication skills now. You can’t teach a 1 or 2 year old to start saying sentences in sign language, but think about the words they use the most at that age; words like mommy, daddy, milk, potty, please, thank you, more, gentle, help, i love you, bed, eat and all done. The key to teaching them these is repetition. Use them all day even if you know what they want, make them use their sign so they can understand when to use which sign.

So if your child is not talking like the other children in their play group it does not mean he/she does not know how to communicate…BUT it is our job as parents to figure out ways than can use to get their point across to us.  Don’t get frustrated if you don’t know what they are saying, get down to their level and try to figure out what they want. Like anything with kids, the more frustrated you get, they sense it and they act up.

To help you get started, here are some basic ones to follow:


Place the thumb of your hand against your chin and open your hand so your four fingers are sticking straight up.  Wiggle your fingers to sign for mom


Place your thumb on your forehead with an open hand.  Tap your thumb on your forehead to sign for dad


Take both hands, make them into a fist, open and close your hand, and repeat like you are milking a cow


      Make your hand into a fist with thumb peeking out between the index finger and the middle finger. Hold the fist out and shake it around a little


Placing your flat right hand over the center of your chest.  Move your hand in a clockwise motion

Thank you

Place your fingers of your dominant hand near your lips with a flat hand.  Move your hand back and forth  and a bit down in the direction of the person you are thanking


Place each hand in the shape of an alligator’s mouth and tap your fingers towards each other


With open hands and your fingers pointed towards each other, move your hands in a circular motion


Make a fist with your thumb up in the hair with your left hand.  Place your right hand with your palm open under your hand left hand with a fist.  Move both hands up and down


Make a squashed “O” with your hand (left or right) and place your fingers towards your mouth as if you are putting food in your mouth.  Keep your mouth closed 🙂  Move your hand back and forth

Finished (All done)

Take both your hands, open them up and face your palms towards you.  Turn your hands around so that you end with your palms facing out

Hope this helps!  What other signs do you recommend for beginning speakers?