As parents, we go to great lengths to provide our kids with the best life experience. We have stacks of parenting books next to our beds, we take endless pictures to remember all the “firsts,” we find interesting activities and friends, we expose them to culture, books, new places, etc. This is all in addition to the endless basic care we give them. But at the end of the day, we should all keep in mind that parenting is really about building a relationship with our children. A positive and healthy parental relationship is what makes our children feel safe, loved, and able to function successfully in the world. And at the very heart of any healthy relationship, we find good communication.
The latest research shows us that the basis for building a healthy relationship with your child is face-to-face time (Strasburger, 2007). Babies require face-to-face interactions to learn. The new study by Zimmerman and Christakis suggests that children who were read to or had storytelling time with their parents showed an increase in language skills.
Signing with your child offers an excellent opportunity for face-to-face time. After all, signing is not possible unless you and your child are facing each other and making eye contact. "Every interaction with your child is meaningful," says Christakis. "Time is precious in those early years, and the newborn is watching you, and learning from everything you do."
To read more about the research: CNN Time article
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Ideas for face-to-face time with your child:
- Respond to their cues as they talk to you
- React to the grimaces and giggles
- Mimic their sounds
- Extrapolate from ‘bababa’ to bottle
- Label and sign things they touch and see
- Read and sign their favorite book
- Sing and sign children’s rhymes
- Play hide and seek with signing
Let the Sign Shine!