Monday, May 14, 2012

It May Look Like a Scribble, but It’s Really . . .

This week's entry is something I've taken not from the Baby Signs book but from another book Dr. Susan Goodwny and I wrote for parents called Baby Minds


If you’re like most parents who mount their little tykes art work on the refrigerator, you’ve “oh-ed” and “ah-ed” over lots of scribbles, still waiting for the day when the drawing of “Mommy” is at least a stick figure with recognizable head, torso, arms, and legs. What most parents don’t realize, however, is that even those supposedly random scribbles can truly represent something as far as the child is concerned. How can you know?

Ask your child what she has drawn. If she says “Mommy,” ask her to point to where Mommy’s hair is, Mommy’s belly button is, Mommy’s feet are. Chances are good that by age 2 ½, she’ll point respectively at the top, middle, and bottom of her scribble. If instead your child say’s it’s a “car,” ask him or her where the roof and the wheels are. You get the idea.

According to developmental psychologists, this ability to endow a scribble with “representation” is, itself, worthy of sincere “ohs” and “ahs.” The reason is because it’s a sign that the child is carrying a symbolic relationship (between the real object and the scribble) in his/her head, an indication of a great developmental leap in intellectual flexibility.

So, next time your child proudly produces a scribble rather than something recognizable, smile, secure in your new found knowledge that there’s truly more there than meets the eye!

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


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