While it’s true that some babies are naturally more sensitive than others, I think signing has allowed our son to be more aware of his emotions. He’s not an overly emotional fellow – he’ll have a little cry when he gets hurt, but a kiss from mom or dad usually does the trick to calm him down quickly. He has his silly times and he gets momentarily upset if things aren’t going his way. Most people remark on how calm and happy he is. Despite this, he knows the difference in the way he feels at different times and can label his feelings with signs. He will tell us that he is HURT and I think that him being able to communicate that allows him to know that we will tend to his pain, and thus it calms him down. He can say when he is FRUSTRATED and just being able to sign it seems to allow him to blow off some steam. He can also ask for HELP at these times instead of sitting there upset and unable to do what he wants to do. Being able to tell us that he is SCARED of something enables us to have a conversation with him about whatever it is (he’s been scared of a goose in his book and a lion he saw on the internet) and communicate any of his fears.
While our son is not inclined towards big emotional highs or lows, I believe that signing has given him a way to identify and describe his feelings and thus deal with them better than he might otherwise. His “tantrums” stop almost as quickly as they start because we can communicate with him what our expectations are and he can easily tell us what’s the matter. These rarely happen in the first place because we will warn him that something he enjoys is almost ALL DONE, so he is not surprised or disappointed.
Instead of just trying to sooth your baby each time he gets emotional, wouldn’t it be great if you gave him a way to tell you what was wrong? Signing with your baby will allow you and your baby to talk about the various emotions he feels and deal with them specifically instead of just offering a hug (or a questioning look) whenever he gets upset.