Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Baby Signs® Program Introductory Video

Learn more about the Baby Signs® Program!  

Watch this introductory video.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Free Baby Signs Poster "Halloween Signs"

Click on the poster or on the link below to download this free Baby Signs poster that features 7 fun signs for Halloween: Costume, Spider, Pumpkin, Afraid, Black, Cat and Candy.

Happy Signing!
Baby Signs Too, LLC

 Baby Signs Halloween Poster

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Helping Children Cope with Disaster


Linda Acredolo, Ph.D.
It seems whenever one turns on the TV these days there’s news of another disaster, whether hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, forest fires—or foreclosures and unemployment. Given how sensitive children are to the emotional atmosphere at their home, it’s very important for parents to be aware of the impact these traumatic occurrences can have on their little ones and to understand what they can do to mitigate the emotional consequences.

One of the blessings of the Internet age is that help for many problems is at one’s fingertips, and that includes advice on how to help children deal with disasters.  In culling through a number of the sources, many of the tips rang true based on our own knowledge of development.  We’ve listed these below and then, at the end, included addresses for a few specific websites that might be useful. 

How anxiety manifests itself: 
  • Increased separation anxiety
  • Reluctance to go to sleep
  • Nightmares
  • Reluctance to go to school/babysitter
  • Regression to less mature behavior
  • Acting out (e.g., sibling spats; tantrums)
  • Physical symptoms (e.g., tummy aches, head aches, etc)
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Withdrawn behavior and sad countenance

Helping children coping with disasters
  • Children detect parental anxiety, so admit your concerns while stressing your confidence in being able to cope with the problem.
  •  Emphasize the sources of support the family has received during the disaster, is currently receiving, and can count on down the line (e.g., extended family, friends, community resources, etc.). The goal is to help the child feel taken care of. 
  • Encourage your child to talk about the situation and his/her feelings
  • Treat expressed fears with respect rather trying to reduce them by being dismissive.
  • Reassure them over and over that they are safe.
  • Provide information about any ways you will try to avoid such traumas in the future if possible.
  • Congratulate them on any behaviors that were helpful during the crisis or helpful in its aftermath.
  • Understand that it’s natural for children to focus on how the disaster affected THEM (e.g., lost toys) rather than understanding the magnitude of the problems the adults face. 
  • Answer questions honestly, including admitting “I don’t know.”  In age-appropriate detail, describe the steps being taken to deal with any losses.
  • Re-establish routines as soon as possible, even if they have to vary from those in place before the disaster.  Children are comforted by being able to predict events.
  • TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. Children can detect parental distress, so finding ways to make yourself feel better will pay off in dealing with your children—including helping you be patient with them.
  • Find some fun things to do—movies, play-dates, trips to the park.  Such occasions will not only distract your child from his/her anxiety and fear, but also provide evidence that life goes on and can still be joyful.
  • Avoid exposure to newscasts or printed materials that show frightening images.
  • Keep promises.
  • Find ways to help others who have experienced losses.  Helping others reinforces the idea that people help each other, thereby increasing a child’s sense of security. 

For more information, check out these websites.

  • FEMA:

Happy signing (and don't forget to follow us on Facebook)! 

Linda Acredolo, Ph.D. 
Co-founder, the Baby Signs® Program 
Professor Emeritus, UC Davis

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Beware: Conformity Starts Early!

We all know how vulnerable teenagers are to peer pressure, but did you know that preschoolers are too? I don’t mean here the tendency for 3- and 4-year-olds to begin mimicking their playmates during play—one child imitating another child who has started to twirl around or act like a monkey. That’s just fun and has no important implications. The conformity at issue here is more insidious and has to do with agreeing publicly with an opinion expressed by others when the truth is that one’s own opinion is very different. In other words, hiding one’s own beliefs because they clash with one’s peers’ beliefs.

It turns out that 4-year-olds are vulnerable to this kind of peer pressure. How did the researchers discover this truth? In a very clever way. They sat groups of 4 children in cubbies arranged so that they couldn’t see each other but could hear each other answer questions posed by the “teacher.” The questions referred to specially designed picture books the children were given. The left page of each 2-page spread in the book showed three drawings of an animal (say a tiger) that were identical except for size. One was big (the “daddy” tiger), one was middle-sized (the “mommy” tiger) and one was small (the “baby” tiger). The right page of each spread showed one of these three versions and the child’s task was to tell the teacher which one it was, the daddy, mommy, or baby. The trick here was the fact that three of the children held copies of the same book while one child (who was always asked last) had a different book designed so the correct answer would clash with what the other children said. What they found was that the children—not always, but about a third of the time—would agree with what the other three kids had said even though they knew that answer to be wrong for their book.

Reading the results of this study brought back a real life example involving my son when he was about 3 ½ and had just started nursery school (see photo above). Up until that point his playmates of convenience happened to always be girls, a fact which bothered him not at all. Then, one day a month or into the school year, I noticed that he had colored every picture in a coloring book save one: a single girl swinging on a swing. “Kai, why didn’t you color this one?” His answer: “Because boys don’t play with girls.” When I next observed the classroom, I saw that this was in fact true at school—the girls played with girls and the boys with boys. Interestingly, however, when he was at home and not where his male peers could see (and no doubt judge him), Kai continued to play very happily with the same girls he always had.

Why is this significant? It’s bad enough when it’s a gender issue, but substitute not playing with children of contrasting ethnicities and you can see how easily and at what young ages prejudices get started.

So, fellow parents, what I’m hoping is that “forewarned is forearmed” as the saying goes. In other words, knowing that even preschoolers are vulnerable to peer pressure can motivate you to begin even earlier to help your child understand the importance of thinking for oneself.

Happy signing (and don't forget to follow us on Facebook)!

Linda Acredolo, Ph.D.
Co-founder, the Baby Signs® Program
Professor Emeritus, UC Davis

Monday, January 6, 2014

Sign and Rhyme for Winter

Children of all ages love songs and rhymes that include “finger play.” Why else would “Itsy Bitsy Spider” have maintained its popularity for generation after generation of children? The nice thing is that finger play rhymes have the added advantage of helping teach babies, toddlers, and preschoolers useful signs that can enable them to communicate well beyond the context of the rhyme. Here’s a simple one that includes popular wintertime signs which, given the frigid temperatures so common this week, seems especially timely!

(To the tune of “Itsy Bitsy Spider”)

Winter brings the SNOW
Falling from the SKY,
Covering the TREES
And even YOU and I.

Winter brings the COLD
That chills us through and through.
So, let’s have tea and COOKIES
To warm up ME and YOU.

SNOW: Slowly wiggle fingers downward and to the side like falling, drifting snow.
SKY: With palm facing out, move right hand in an arc from left to right above the forehead.
TREE: Rest elbow on back of left had. Spread right fingers and rotate left several times.
COLD: “Shiver” both fists at shoulder level.
COOKIE: Place fingertips of right hand on left palm and twist as if cutting with a cookie cutter.
PRONOUNS: Point to relevant person

Happy Signing (and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook)!


Linda Acredolo, Ph.D.
Co-Founder, the Baby Signs® Program
Professor Emeritus, UC Davis

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Make Older Sibs Part of the Signing Team

From time to time I write in this blog about the challenges parents face when they upset the family dynamics by adding another baby to the mix. In that regard, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the displaced child is vulnerable to feelings of jealousy and resentment. This week’s message is about how signing has helped ease the tensions of sibling rivalry for many families.

Teaching a baby to sign requires lots of enthusiasm and repetition. “Doggie! [SIGN] See the doggie? [SIGN] What a nice doggie! [SIGN]” The truth is that, especially at first, parents can feel a bit shy about waving their hands around as they ramp up the enthusiasm factor in their voices and faces. In contrast, preschool and school age kids often enjoy acting “silly” and, as a consequence, seldom have a problem providing the energy that makes modeling signs for babies most effective. Because babies love watching their older siblings, these pint-sized teachers do a great job. What’s more. they take great pride in having successfully taught their baby brother or sister a sign. “Watch Mom! She can sign DOG now!”

The obvious benefit here is that the baby learns more signs. But the more subtle benefit is that the older sibling feels an allegiance with the parents as part of the signing “team”—making being older (and wiser) more attractive—and thereby helping offset feelings of jealousy.

So, if you have an older sib available to help teach signs, make it fun. Suggest he/she look for pictures of target objects (e.g., dogs when teaching the DOG sign) in magazines—or even draw them—to post around the house. Soon you’ll see big sister dragging the little one over to the pictures and demonstrating the signs with great gusto. The more the merrier, we always say!

Happy Signing (and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook)!


Linda Acredolo, Ph.D.
Co-Founder, the Baby Signs® Program
Professor Emeritus, UC Davis