13 Jan Help Your Child Be Conversational
It’s important that children have the confidence to speak to others. This is a key life skill that can be taught. You can help your child be conversational in a number of ways such as by talking to them as much as possible, taking your child’s ideas and opinions seriously, and by demonstrating how to lead a conversation.
As soon as your child can speak and communicate, you can start to help them become conversational and social. In this post I will discuss why it’s important to help your child be conversational, as well as the conversational key skills for a child to master and develop these.
Why conversational skills are important
The world is becoming more automated and robots, AI, and machines are replacing humans. The key skill that separates humans from machines is their ability to talk, build relationships and have conversations. Many of the highest paid positions in the world – eg management, politics require excellent speaking and presentation skills. A person’s ability to build relationships is directly correlated to their financial success in life. Successful and wealthy people work hard to ensure that their children have excellent conversational and speaking skills. It is also important to note that human interactions are becoming shorter, due to the amount of distractions in our lives. This means that a person has less time to build relationships with others than before.
Conversational skills to be mastered
- Joining a conversation
- Leading a conversation
- Making a point
- Ending a conversation
Meeting new people is scary for many people, especially a child. This is where practice comes in, encourage your child to greet everyone they meet politely and cheerfully with good eye contact. If your child is confident about meeting new people, then they will be able to make friends and build relationships more easily.
There are many different situations where a child could meet new people ranging from informal, such as at the playground to formal, such as meeting a teacher on the first day of school. Try to allow your child to experience a wide variety of these scenarios as possible. Help your child to have their hello and a little introduction practiced, if they are confident of the initial step, it will go a long way to helping them. An activity that I have used is to let my child pay when we are at the shop. She will need to hand over the cash and get the receipt and say thanks!
Joining a conversation
Joining a group that is talking is another situation that many fear. Let your child see situations where a group is open to others joining in and other situations where a group is closed. They can also have comments such as “do you mind if I join?” “Can I come and play with you?” Joining groups is more complex than talking to one person, so these scenarios will need a lot of practice. Your child will be getting a lot of practice at school and so you might want to help them meet groups of adults for example at family gatherings.
This is one of the biggest challenges for children of any age. They are always excited to talk about what interests them, however they may get bored when someone else is talking. They may do things like sigh and yawn to show their boredom. Always remind your child that it’s polite to listen and that the speaker will be happy if your child is interested in what they say. Make sure your child has some follow up questions and comments about what they are hearing to show genuine curiosity. Also, remind them to maintain good eye contact (without staring too much!)
Leading a conversation
It takes 2 or more parties to have a conversation. Adults naturally know when to lead the way, by asking questions and bringing up topics that they feel are appropriate. Children don’t often know when or how to lead, this is a slightly similar situation to starting a conversation. Your child can have topics of interest and questions to ask, a good way to lead a conversation is to have follow up questions for example “where did you get that?” “Who did you go to ___ with?”
Making a point
Making a clear and concise point is a key skill to master, indeed there are many adults who haven’t mastered this at all! The key to making a point is to follow the pyramid principle. This is to give the answer or key point first followed by why, and then followed by how or examples. For example, I like learning about animals, because they are interesting and cute. My favourite animals are rabbits. Encourage your child to always give their main point and idea first and to then give their follow up explanations.
Ending a conversation
There’s always a time that a conversation has to end, and it’s important to end on a good note! Teach your child how to politely bring a conversation to a close. For example, by giving a reason such as “it’s dinner time now, so I have to go.” A child can use the end of the conversation to plan a future activity, for example “let’s go to the playground tomorrow.” “Do you want to ____ next week?” Of course don’t forget a cheerful goodby at the end!
Practice makes perfect when it comes to becoming a conversationalist,so try to immerse your child in as many and varied social situations as possible. Your child will be watching how you behave and speak in social situations, so you can therefore, model how to act.