I’ve been advised to use gestures and signs with my two and half year old. Won’t this make him lazy and less able to talk?

When adults are talking they often use gestures and this helps others to understand what is being said. The ability to gesture usually comes before the ability to talk and so a very young child can wave bye-bye before they can say the words.

Gestures are therefore a necessary part of a child’s language development and an important stage to go through before being able to speak. Generally we should accept all forms of communication from a child both verbal (sounds, words and sentences) and non-verbal ( eye-contact, gestures, signs and body language).

Gestures and signs do not replace the child’s need to talk, but it can reduce frustration, enable parents to know what their child means before he can say the words and helps children to understand what adults are saying, by providing two channels of communication for the child to use.