Eczema Tips

Distracting Little Fingers of Children

Is she signing “Eat” or sucking her fingers?

Are you running out of ideas to distract your child with eczema from scratching? Marcie (in photo) knows about 200 signs from Amercian Sign Language (ASL) and sometimes when she wants to scratch, I’d quickly distract her by asking her how to sign certain animals, like “Mouse”, “Monkey” or “Bird”. Most of the time, it works as Marcie would respond by doing the sign and soon forgot about scratching.

Here’s Marcie’s Signing Story:

At about 3 month old, when we decided she could watch TV and hence, should watch programs suited for her, we went to the library and borrowed a few children DVDs. She’s really taken to Signing Time and watching the DVD already distracted her from scratching.

By about 6 month old, she already started signing back. Her first signs were “More”, “Milk” and she loved signing “Cat”, “Dog” and “Bird”.

By about 15 month old, she actually knew more signs than my husband and I! We left her to watch the DVD on her own, while we quickly did household chores and given her good memory, she actually learnt more than us.

Now, at almost 2 year old, Marcie knows almost 200 signs (she could know more, cos I only counted those I learnt with her). Marcie is scratching less and likes dancing now, so although she’s signing less, signing has helped us for almost a year with distracting her from scratching.

So, are there other benefits to Signing? Marcie’s “True/False/Not Sure” response.

Yes,  you won’t find helping eczema children as a benefit listed but there are many other listed benefits:

1. Able to communicate with caregiver, thus reducing frustration/tantrums (from your baby, not you!) – True. Marcie, despite her eczema, did not show sign of frustration of not being able to communicate with us.

2. Improve motor skills – Not sure. Being an eczema baby from 2 weeks old, Marcie has better finger dexterity than other babies her age. Before others discover their fingers, Marcie was already scratching! Baby’s finger muscles develop earlier than speech muscles, so they can sign before they can talk.

3. Understand English earlier and Increase Vocabulary – True. Marcie knows 200 words already, and she knows her A to Z at about 14 month old. By knowing, I meant she can sign and she can pinpoint the alphabet if I ask her which is “M”. Also, I read that alphabet like C and Z may confuse a child, and knowing that they have different sign allow the baby to know they are different alphabet. Also alphabet like W may mislead the child to thinking it’s three alphabets. Also, teaching a child using a multi-sensory approach can help him/her remember better. Read interview with MySmartHands founder on benefits of baby sign language.

4. Deeper bonding with parents, higher trust level- Unsure. I co-sleep with Marcie and was stay at home mom for 11 months, without hiring a maid/au pair. So, I can’t tell if she’s bonded with me because of the signing or not.

5. Helps talking, does not delay speech – Unsure. Marcie, at almost 2 year old, hasn’t talked much though she sings to herself, dances and tries to say certain words.

6. Stimulates intellectual development – Unsure. Research conducted showed higher IQ of signing babies (114) compared to non-signing babies (102). I think Marcie is already smart, so I can’t tell this one (lol, I know I’m one of those moms who think her baby is smarter than others).

7. Boost self-esteem and confidence – Unsure. Marcie is quite shy around strangers, say in sunday school.

8. Learn a recognized 2nd language, rather than make-up signs – Yes. I’m intending when Marcie is older to sign up to volunteer with the deaf association. You need to go through their sign language course but I’m sure we’ll pick up quickly given the head start.

All in all, I love signing with Marcie and I love seeing her stop her scratching and sign in response to my request for “What’s the Sign for Eat?”

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