Wednesday, July 1, 2009

How to Talk with Young Children

Thanks Yen!

1. It’s important to keep language clear and simple. Make sure to avoid words that have dual meanings or are not common usage.

2. It’s helpful to pay attention to children when they speak but avoid trying to focus on several conversations at once.

3. Use words and questions that encourage children to converse. It’s important to engage a child. Remember to avoid ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions. For example, try “tell me more” or “what else happened?”

4. Stay positive. Use ‘do’ more than ‘don’t’. Phrase requests to communicate the desired behavior. For example, ‘you can use these bean bags for throwing practice’ rather than ‘don’t throw the toys.’

5. When communicating with young children, position yourself at the child’s eye level. Putting yourself at the child’s level communicates respect and helps you to hold the child’s attention.

6. Wait for responses to questions before moving the conversation on. Children need a few minutes to formula responses to questions. Remember, true conversations are two-sided.

7. Make sure to model polite conversation. It’s important to use ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ routinely. Children learn a lot through their observations of your conversation style.

8. Encourage dialogue by talking with children and not to them. While talking with children, ask questions, show interest, and comment on the child’s responses. However, be careful about the amount of time you spend giving directions or engaging in one way, directive communication.

9. When speaking with a child, never use unkind words. Any words or phrases that imply ridicule, shaming, name calling, teasing or belittling are not appropriate.

10. Show enthusiasm and enjoyment in conversations. It’s helpful to show children you enjoy talking with them by laughing, smiling and even joking with children. Always remember, when you have fun, the children will have fun, too.

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