Chatting with Children in Acacia Preschool in Fullerton, California

A shared conversation between parents and children garners trust and creates warm meaningful relationships.

Children acquire language faster during the first five years of life than any other time their development. Parents are seeking information and want to have a conversation with their child but often these conversations are short…single word short.  What a great opportunity to ask questions that require more than a yes or no answer. Does this sound familiar?

“How was your day” Fine.

“Did you do learn anything new today?” No.

“Did you eat your lunch?” Yes.

On the other hand some children, especially young ones, are so talkative that parents are faced with endless questions…. Which has you doing most of the talking.

“Why does it rain?”

“Why do dogs wag their tails?”

“Why did you name me Adam?”

1. Open-ended questions are best

Experts say that specific, open-ended questions generate the best responses.  Open-ended questions allow for more than a yes or no answer. They also encourage problem solving and stimulate language development. So turn the tables on your talkative little ones and engage in your not so chatty children, and ask them some open-ended questions.

“Why do you think that dog is barking?”
“What is a good name for a goldfish?”
“Can you name some of your favorite toys?”
“If you could be really good at one sport, what would you choose?”

2. Communication is as much about listening

as it is about talking.  Help your child be a good listener by getting his attention before the conversation begins. Children are similar to adults…their minds might be a thousand miles away.  To get their attention, say their name or establish eye contact. For young children, it’s a good idea to get at their eye level by kneeling down or by sitting on the floor or at the table. Get in the habit of asking children to restate what they heard you say, and visa versa, you let them know what they are telling you. You’ll know right away if both of you  ‘got it’ or if there needs to be more explanations.  And Listen very carefully to your children when they speak. When children are listened to, they tend to share more because they know you’re really interested.

Shared conversations between parents and children create warm relationships. They build trust, assuring that your child can come to you at anytime with questions or concerns. Make it a priority to talk as often as you can. Children need practice having conversations with most important people in their lives.

3. A gentle minder to yourself…timing is everything!

It’s okay if you’re in the middle of something to say, “I want to hear what’s on your mind. Give me a minute and we’ll talk.” If you find yourself in the middle of a conflict, it’s a good idea to have a cool down period before trying to have a serious conversation.

What if….

What if everyone wore pajamas all of the time?
What if there were no trees?
What if you had a monster for a pet?

Would you rather…

Paint a picture using just your fingers or using only paintbrushes?
Understand the language of cats or the language of dogs?
Live where its always snowing or always raining?
Have the superpower of becoming invisible or of seeing through walls?
Eat all of your candy at once or eat it day after day?

Making lists

Making lists encourages children to think about their feelings towards certain topics and can promote thoughtful conversations, all while helping build their vocabulary.

List three things that make a good friend.
List the people that make up your family.
List three things that made you smile today.
List three things that make you laugh/sad/angry/happy.
List your three favorite breakfast foods.