- Question and answers – As adults, we instinctively know how this dance goes. One person asks a question, the other answers. Babies first begin to learn this when an adult asks a question they already know the answer to (“What color is this?”) and then answers it for the child (“Green!”). As children get older, they can answer questions and learn to ask other questions through practicing conversation.
- Turn taking – I think all parents will agree that this is an important skill and the basis of learning to share. It also shows up when we talk with others. We all have the friend who (bless her heart) never learned this skill and talks your ear off while you nod along and your eyes glaze over. By practicing conversation with your kiddo, you are teaching him that the best communication happens when both people have a chance to talk.
- Ask open-ended questions – about your child’s preferences, thoughts, or activities. This seems common sense but often, with children, we ask questions that can be answered in one word because we know they can (and usually will) answer. Start with these:
- Notice rather than give your opinion – When you remark on something about your child and leave your opinion ambiguous, it encourages your child to expand on what you’ve said. Think about it. It works with adults, too. If someone says to me, ‘I love your blog!’ I will likely reply, ‘Thanks!’ But if someone says, ‘I visited your blog. I see that you post every day,’ I will probably reply in a way that gives more information and keeps the conversation, ‘I’m so glad you visited. I just have so many ideas to get out and writing is a great creative outlet for me.’ Instead of: