Teaching Your Baby How to Say/Sign “Help”: One Simple Tip That Can Help Us All
I was telling my husband that I had (what seems to me) a pretty original tip for new mothers. By sharing it, I may help a fellow mom, and that’s what it’s all about.
I taught my three “big kids” some sign language before they could talk. 10 years later, we had our little “tag-a-long” dude, and we taught him some signs. For whatever reason, he excelled at it. He fluently learned about 50 signs in a few months time, and remembers them now, at two years, even though we rarely re-visit them,
It seems to me now, that the sign “Help” has been the most life-changing. To sign this word, you do a “thumbs up” with one hand. With your other hand palm up, you lift the “thumbs up” hand like a little elevator, essentially “helping it” up.
When our little dude first started whining/grunting/acting displeased when he needed help, instead of rushing to his aid, we’d calmly say, “Sign ‘Help.’” We didn’t accept the whining. We encouraged him to ask for help. One word, then we’d calmly oblige.
At two years, he can now say all the words he used to sign, but one word has remained in his head as an idea: HELP.
Let me paint you two pictures. The first is the morning routine of a child that hasn’t been taught and trained to sign or ask for help with one word... Cries in crib to get up. Whines because he can’t get his socks on his hands by himself. Complains when Mom doesn’t hold his hand down the steps. Grunts because he can’t reach the truck out of the back of the toy box. This all happens in the first five minutes he’s up. Mom’s nerves are already shot.
The second, is a child who was taught from six months, a little elevator thumbs up, and one word, “Help.” ...Mom hears over the baby monitor, “Mom, Help.” She knows he wants down and out. She goes in to see him struggling to put his socks on his hands (weird.) He says, “Help.” She helps. Mom is at the bottom of the stairs when she hears him asking for help, She can decide to help, or encourage him to hold the rail and be a big boy. Downstairs, he reaches for his truck, but it’s buried. “Mom. Help.” “Of course!”
This is so much easier on the nerves. You’ve cut to the chase. Baby doesn’t need to have a fit or cry or whine to get your attention. He nicely asks for help, and it gets your attention.
When our little dude understood “Please” and “Thank you,” we taught him “Help, please,” followed by, “Thank you” after receiving help. That is music to my ears.
I wonder how long this “asking for help” will continue? I hope that when he’s a teenager (like the big kids,) he’ll still, simply, ask for it.
We could do that, too… Just ask for help instead of hinting and complaining… Just sayin’.
- Sarah Belle Cassidy
Sarah Belle Cassidy is a wife and stay at home mother to four kids, two girls and two boys, ages 17, 15, 12 and 2. She once owned a small-town coffee shop/restaurant for eight years, was an apprentice electrician, and homeschooled her oldest three children for eight years.
After 20 years of marriage, three children, a divorce, remarriage, and a tag-a-long child at "40-something," Sarah is learning to put the oxygen mask on herself first, and THEN attend to the various needs of a busy family. She says, "Coffee, love, humor, music, research, and plenty of hugs are my fuel."