This sign language post is devoted to the sign for "all done." This is a great sign to teach preemies because being able to indicate that you are done eating/playing/doing something is very important. It gives your preemie a sense of control over the situation which can help ease potential meltdowns.
Go here for an explanation and pictures on how to do the sign.
For beginning tips on introducing sign language to your preemie, click here.
How to incorporate the sign:
- Start by using the sign in specific situations where you know that your preemie is "all done" such as at the end of a bath, at the end of a meal/feeding time or when you are done with an activity that has a specific end to it (time at the park, playing a game, reading a book, etc). Tell your preemie "bath all done" and make the sign for all done as you say "all done." Repeat this over numerous occasions. The key is to let your preemie be all done when you do the sign. He/she needs to know exactly what all done (and the sign) means.
- Use meal time or playtime to ask your preemie if he/she is all done. Are you "all done?" and then point to whatever it is you are doing. Encourage your preemie to do the sign. Honor any small motion that indicates the all done sign.
- When your preemie makes the "all done" sign, encourage him/her to tell you what he/she is all done with. For example, if you are reading a book and your preemie makes the all done sign, ask him/her - Are you all done with the book and touch the book. This will encourage your preemie to start telling you (by touch or later verbally) what he/she is all done with. This is an important part of extending the communication process and understanding for your preemie.
- Word to the wise - your preemie may start using the all done sign during times when you don't want him/her to be all done. My daughter will say she is all done before we are done with a specific therapy activity or meal. Acknowledge that he/she has said all done but let him/her know that the activity isn't done quite yet. This may take some time to work out but as long as you honor him/her being all done as much as you can it should be just fine.
General signing tip: Make sure that you teach your spouse, other children and other caretakers the signs that you are teaching your preemie. This will help your preemie use the signs more often and they will be able to understand what your preemie is saying. It can also be a helpful part of the learning process - when your spouse or other children make the sign be sure to offer lots of praise just like you would if your preemie did the sign.