“There is no such thing as worthless conversations, provided you know what to listen for.” – James Miller
As children grow, parents help them navigate the path of conversation. Some catch on early and this learning works wonders for children as young as five. A few struggle even till they’re 9 or 10. They could be shy or they simply haven’t adapted like most other kids. Nothing alarming at all. It’s a part of growing up – for children as well as parents.
As everything does, even conversation begins at home. Don’t depend on schools, or the society at large, to develop and polish your child’s conversation skills. It’s something kids pick up at home and you have the best means to show your kids how.
We at DIY lay emphasis on good conversation skills for kids and feature a specialized online course for kids on speech and debate – these are for children between the age of 9 and 15.
However, most of the basic training for kids takes place at the domestic level and it’s always advisable for parents to step up.
Here are a few good practices to help children express themselves better.
1. Talk to them
You are the first person your child talks to. Continue it in the right direction. You are the prime conversationalist and the teacher for your children. Pick interesting topics to talk about with them. Get them to talk as well. And remember, there’s no right or wrong way of striking good conversations. For most parents, the challenge is to build an environment where the little ones can express their thoughts freely.
2. Listen to them
Most times children are intimidated by elders in the family and don’t open up in conversations. Come down to their level and let them know that you are all ears. You can do that by asking them more questions that need long answers and explanations. And when they speak, maintain eye contact because listening is as important as speaking.
3. Arriving at the point
It’s easy to get carried away and ramble on for hours without any meaning. A good conversationalist has a purpose in their conversation. Whenever you are discussing a subject (nature or sports, for example) and your child goes off the rail, gently bring them back on the right track of the conversation so they get used to staying on it.
Being aware of every word and sentence is being mindful in a conversation. It includes being polite and empathetic. To develop this in children, if you interrupt them, quickly and politely apologize so they know what not to do themselves. Such thoughtful behavior will help your child develop respect for the exchange of thoughts.
5. Converse for real
Just because they are very young doesn’t mean you can’t have meaningful deep conversations with them. This is not to say you shouldn’t indulge in silly childish talks. But when it’s time for a good conversation, talk to them about something meaningful that goes beyond favorite colors, games, and toys. Let them surprise you with their wit.
6. Breaking the ice
For many children, it’s the beginning of a conversation that troubles them. Once they cross that hurdle, things flow. Find a few different ways to get the ball rolling with them. Ask them open-ended questions, prompt them in the beginning, and encourage them to say anything to get started.
7. Silence is golden
Although there’s nothing as insightful as a good conversation, do help your children learn the value of silence too. Knowing when to pause and when to let others speak is just as important as the conversation itself. And when you practice it yourself as a parent, they’ll know why it’s important.
If you find these thoughts helpful in any way, kindly share this blog post with fellow parents so that they can benefit as well.