One of the biggest parental frustrations during the toddler stage is tantrums. Although tantrums happen for many reasons, the biggest one is lack of communication. This may sound simplistic, but acting out and crying are the only means your toddler has to communicate with you his desires. He doesn't possess the words to tell you why he is struggling with something or what he is trying to do.
I liken this to being in a different country wherein you do not know the language. All my life, I have the had the privilege of being able to go on missions trips. I loved each and every one, learning something different from every country. One frustration I remember well though is trying to communicate with someone who does not understand English. It is super difficult and exasperating when you are trying to find something in a grocery store, and you can't communicate well enough to let anyone know how to help you. I hated this feeling, and tried my best with lots of different methods to not let it happen.
That being said, your little toddler has no such resources. He is just as frustrated at times trying to let you know his wants and therefore gives way to screaming tantrums.
One simple way to avoid this issue is to give him a means to communicate. This is where baby sign language enters the stage. In our home, we started baby sign language from birth, but our son was not able to sign to us until about twelve months. This age is different for every child depending on their motor skills.
We started with simple baby signs such as: more, all done, please, thank you, drink, eat, and hot. After the age of one, we steadily increased his baby sign language vocabulary to: colors, animals, help, up, and down.
We teach by continuous repetition, videos, and books. For example, we have a simple farm animal book that we sign the animals as we read them. We haven't branched out too much in the video realm, but my son loves songs. So this video from My Smart Hands that teaches the colors and this video also from My Smart Hands that teaches farm animals, are our very favorite to watch. In fact, we watch them at least once a day at different down times.
When a toddler tantrum does arrive in our home, we calmly look our child in the eyes and tell them that we understand that he is frustrated but that screaming is not appropriate. We then make him stop, calm down, and sign us what is wrong. In the beginning, your child will not know every sign, so we ask a lot of questions as well. For instance, our son gets frustrated when he can't accomplish something. So we ask him if he needs help? We make sure to do the baby sign as we say the word and also use his hands to mimic the baby sign.
Now that we have been consistently teaching him baby sign language and expecting it, he is more apt to sign to us instead of throwing a fit. This is only because we have given him a means of communicating with us. He loves and gets so excited when he can tell us something that we understand. Lately, this has been his colors.
So not only has learning baby sign language been a great way to avoid tantrums, it has provided our son with the joy of communicating.
This is just one of the reason you should practice baby sign language with your children. This article gives several other benefits that baby sign language will bring to your home.