Gestures are non-verbal movements used to convey a message.  Children who have not developed verbal communication or have just a few words, may rely on gestures to get their point across.  It is important to watch for these gestures and to respond to them.  These gestures are an early way that children communicate.  Responding to them may limit frustration and ultimately tantrums.

There are many types of gestures.  Most parents recognize conventional gestures such as waving.  You probably also recognize pointing (to an object to ask you to give it to them), showing (you a book to ask you to read), and giving (you the bottle to ask for more).

I notice that parents sometimes are unaware of their child’s more ritualistic gestures.  These include:

  • holding their hands up to ask you to pick them up
  • “dancing” to ask you to sing them a song
  • opening their hands to ask that you open the bottle of bubbles

Pay attention to your child’s gestures.   Respond to them.  Add a word.  When your child reaches up, say “up” as you lift her.  This will give her a word to use when she is ready to talk.