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My DD has mastered some basic signs like milk, more, and all done. She regularly wakes up with some discomfort that I think is due to teething but it could also be her tummy since she's sensitive to a lot of foods. I'd like to help her learn to communicate that she's uncomfortable, but I have no idea how to go about teaching her the sign for pain. Stuff like mom, dad, dog, etc. is fairly easy because you can point to the person but how do you teach them abstract concepts like pain, hunger, cold, etc?
When I suspect a problem (ie, hungry) I ask my kids if they want to eat something and give them the sign for eat... I suppose I could teach 'hungry' but haven't worried about it. for "cold" or "hot" we just teach it in the appropriate weather outside. Just like they learn the concept in English, basically. Repetition, and exposure to the concept.
We did end up teaching her the sign for hurt. The problem was connecting the sign with the concept. When kids are hurting, they are exactly receptive to learning new things at that exact moment, KWIM? So what I did was to walk around and pretend to hurt myself. I would pump my knee on the table and say "That hurts!" and make the sign for hurt. I did that two or three times per day for a few weeks and she got it.