Monday, April 16, 2012

Books, Babies and Baby Signs

Book provide an excellent way to bond with your baby. Not only does book reading help increase your child's literacy skills, it often will have words or pictures your baby can sign to.

Babies can then take a more active role in book reading, increasing the vocabulary used a conversations expand beyond just reading to a child. When you read with your baby and they are signing words back to you, providing you with more ideas and questions for each other, you will bond with your baby in a way that may not have been possible without baby signs.

Books are a great source for new signs. Animal signs are Nashville and Gerans favourite signs and a great book to do the signs with is Brown, Bear, Brown Bear, What Do you See? This book also provides the opportunity to practice colours as your baby grows.

Watch for things your baby likes as you turn pages, remember it is not as important to finish the book as it is to engage in conversation about the pictures and words your baby loves.

Repeat the same book over and over and watch how proud your baby will become as they start to turn the pages and sign the words they know, initially reading the book on their own!

Books seem to slow everyone down and invite cuddles and snuggles, what a great way to bond with your baby. Daddy's especially love this interaction, increasing their bond with baby sooner than waiting for verbal communication.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Encourage Toddlers to Problem Solve

Create Problem Solvers not Problems

Many parents want cooperative, respectful, courageous, confident, resourceful children but have no idea what is needed to develop these characteristics.

It is so much easier to 'do things for a 2 year or 3 year old, not to mention it's faster for our busy life.' But what is more important?... speed, perfection and ease or helping your children develop confidence, perceptions of capability and strong life skills?

Remember skills are not inborn, they are learned and taught by the primary caregivers.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Too many times parents 'tell' their children what to do, or worse, do it for them. Children cannot develop a sense of 'autonomy' (self confidence, life skills, self respect) when parents spend so much time yammering at them about what they need to do, how they need to feel and what they need to think about. TELLING children, takes away the opportunity for children to think for themselves. Lecturing often causes children to 'tune out' because most of what you say goes over their heads. Parents are disappointed when children don't have self control, but may not realize they are not using the 'right parenting skills' to teach this important development.

What can we do about this now? If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got.” Is a great quote to remember. 
So the answer is CHANGE your attitude and old patterns.

Stop lecturing today and start asking questions like:
“What were you trying to do?”
“What else could you do if you want this happen again?”
“what do we need when we... go outside, brush our teeth, eat dinner?”
“What just happened?” “Why do you think that happened?”

Remember language is a journey and takes time to learn. They may not understand everything, and you may have to simplify your questions for per-verbal children and young children, but you're on your way to having a child who knows how to be resourceful and think for themselves. 
This skill is especially important for girls. Studies and research has shown that girls are not valued for their thinking skills and usually not given enough opportunities to question and work out problems. These studies were done at a school aged level. Let's start today to change this result.

Examples of questions for younger children may be...
“What do need to go outside?” (they can run and get their own jacket etc... if you make the item accessible.)
“Kitty's hungry, what does she need?” (they can help pour the food in the bowl)
“Daddy's hurt, what does he need?” (encouraging empathy by giving hugs)
“Oops, a spill, what can you do?” (offer them a rag to clean up)
“How do you feel?” (when they are crying or whining or angry... pick them up, give them a hug. Sometimes that is all they need. Remember under the age of 3, time outs, spanking, lecturing are all ineffective wasters.

It's important to teach children how to think, not what to think.

The younger the child, the more CLUES we need to give them. If your 2 year old is 'stuck up against the wall' with his trike, we can say, "You're stuck, what do think would happen if you got off and backed up?” Asking a question as opposed to 'telling them to get off and back up, engages an important part of their brain to connect logic processing. The goal is to invite decisions and thinking skills.

Practice today! It may feel and sound funny at first, but soon your habit of asking questions will be so second nature and your babies will soon be problem solvers and resourceful little tikes themselves.

Boost Baby' Brain today!

Signing Tip: Teach the words jacket, shoes, kitty etc... so when you ask them what do we need, they can respond by signing the answer. My 10 month old can sign fish when I ask who need food as I sprinkle the fish food into the tank. He is already playing an active role is decision making. Happy Signing!

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Twitter @AmandaMinchau

Friday, April 13, 2012

Signing and Family

How can I make signing part of my everyday?

Use it all the time. Sign eat while watcing tv, out for lunch with friend, driving your car.

If you, as a parent, are signing EAT all the time, your more likely to remember to sign it when your baby is actually eating.

Use EAT in pretend play. Make cookies and tea for grandma and have a party. Invite all the stuffie to EAT with you. Ask them what they want to EAT. Have baby watch you by getting his attention.
Make noises, sing songs, tell stories, read books, show DVD's, use props. Whatever it takes.

Start with just a few, say 3 signs, and use them daily. If you start with MORE, ALL DONE and say EAT. You can use them for more than just EATING. Such as MORE tickles, bubbles, park time, bath time, books and more. It's especially important to sign ALL DONE. There is nothing worse than finding out your little one is done with their bath because they start crying or wailing. Same goes with ALL DONE tickling, eating, outside (cold), hugs, horseride or rough play.

We all use gestures in our everyday, it's just adjusting what we know and adding a movement.

Here is a link to the word EAT to get you started.
I like Signing Savvy. It is a great ASL dictionary with lots of words to get you started on your signing journey.

Just remember to look for approximations. Your baby will not sign true ASL, but will do their best to mimic your movements. Just like learning to talk, your baby will 'try out/' a new word. It may not sound exactly like your word, but it will be close. Your job is to repeat the proper sign and say the word at the same time. Keep doing it the 'right' way and encourage your baby to copy you by saying,
"Yes, that's right PUPPY and repeat the sign properly."

Never say no, your wrong, always encourage by saying, yes, that's right!

Happy Signing!

Sunday, April 8, 2012


It's been wonderful watching my two year old become so independent.

By moving his cups, utensils and plates at an easy to get area. I have been able to do less and have him become more self reliant. He loves getting his 'special plate' and choose the colour he wants and bring it to the table. He sets up his own cup and spoon etc... so cute.

He feels independent, proud and have a good sense of self esteem when he is able to do things for himself.

We allow him to 'get things from the fridge or cupboard within reason. We even put his milk in a small, easy to pour container and he is practicing pouring his own liquids... a messy, but necessary skill. He's getting quite good at it.

He loves to sign the words for all the items he gets and tell his 10 month old brother what they are... his brother is mostly interested in chewing on them, however. lol.

So cute and so important for their development.

When it's time for a snack, he has his own snack drawer too, easily accessible nuts, crackers, raisins etc.

Too cute.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


As a WAHM (work at home mom) I find it increasently more and more important to celebrate success. Having no boss to say, "good work" or "I appreciate you," makes it hard to measure our own success.

So we go on feelings or written goals (even better and really important with self employment)

Write down what you did well today, this week or this month.

Keep a record and then learn to CELEBRATE! The right way!

Celebration can be as simple as take yourself out for coffee BY YOURSELF! And DON"T answer the phone when your out, better still, leave it at home.

Celebration can be write down what you did well today and how that made you feel. Or how it made your family members feel.

Celebration can be buying yourself a new piece of clothing, get your hair or nails done. Make that massage appointment or invite a friend to a cheap movie night.

Celebration is what helps up work hard everyday. It's what most people do in the corporate world when we get that promotion or big account. It's time we took celebration to our level and make it our own!

It doesn't have to involve drinking, food, or buying something.

Just take a at home spa day... sit in the bath and read by candle light, tell hubby YOUR UNAVAILABLE because its your celebration day for such n such.

It will show your children how to celebrate their own small accomplishments such as learning to get dressed by themselves. Learning to read and finishing their first novel. Then you can show them how to celebrate... by keeping a journal with them. Renting a movie.

You can even keep a 'surprise celebration jar' at home.

Fill the jar with 'celebration ideas'... one for each family member so it is age appropriate.

A jar for a 4 year old may have in it:
-rent a movie
-play a board game with family
-1 hour alone time with mom or dad at a coffee shop or at the park
-a trip to the ice cream shop
-craft time
-painting on the front window

Today I wanted to write down my accomplishments...

I was able to..
Do the laundry
Wash dishes
Hand out signing kits to my customers
Make Easter cards with my two year old
Pin up balloons by ribbon on the ceiling for Nashville to crawl through and hit
Go to the dollar store
Stuff Easter eggs for the hunt tomorrow
Make a great dinner with double baked potatoes and roasted chicken
Take the boys to I Got You Babe Mothergoose class
Help my husband with his nametags and a bit of driving.
Visit with a girlfriend

I was pretty happy with all the things I was able to accomplish today.

To celebrate tonight, I will be watching a movie guilt free and getting my hair done!

Write down your successes today!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Night Geran, I have to check on Nashy now.
You were my little baby at one time
"I was your baby?"
"And I drank the milk?"
"And I was in your tummy?"
"Then I popped out?"
"And now I'm your big boy?"
That's right, sweety, and I love you so much.
"I love you soooooooo much."

wow. makes every hard day worth it.