This weekend I was at a big outdoor store, looking to buy some garden soil for replanting my fiddle-leaf fig tree into a bigger pot. After finding the garden section and about 400 piles of different kinds of soil, I realized I needed some help because fiddle-leafs are known to be, well, finicky. I'm told the wrong PH levels can cause a slow, agonizing death. I found an employee and asked about my best soil options... a blank stare and some slow eye blinks came my way, and then they walked away. No help. I found another employee who then scrunched up one eye and cocked their head sideways when I asked about soil for a fiddle-leaf. I tried asking my question again, with slightly different words in case that could make more sense, and they shook their head in a big NOPE.
I felt frustrated, helpless,
and stuck, and I wanted to yell,
Are we adults all that different from our babies?
When my little ones try to tell me something, either verbally or physically signing, and they don't get a response from me, they resort to whatever will get my attention, which is usually fussing, crying out, or pulling on my pant leg (dramatic body drops to the floor follow if I still don't respond). Today at the garden store I totally got it.
It's really frustrating to be ignored.
I feel that humans of all ages need to feel listened to and responded to; this allows us to thrive and connect with those around us.
-Gwenyth Doher-Sneddon, developmental psychologist at Northumbria University,
Today's Parent Magazine
So let's apply this idea of responsiveness to creating the perfect, supportive environment for our babies to thrive and communicate with us.
When you catch your baby signing MORE, or an approximation of it, say "YES! Let's have MORE, I see you signing MORE, here's MORE". The simple act of responding creates trust that you are a reliable receiver of their attempts at communication, and they'll be encouraged to keep trying those signs out with you! Some cheers and claps always help, too.
And when you respond and interact, your baby will feel supported and encouraged to express to you again and again with their signs, and subsequently, their words.
BTW, I did find someone to help me choose the right soil for my fiddle-leaf, my fingers are crossed for a happy, responsive plant!
Let me know how you respond to your little one's attempts at communication.