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Conversations with Kids

Your kids are little sponges, soaking up every bit of information in their environments.  You want your kids to have outstanding verbal skills.  How can you foster the development of these skills?

If you have only brief and elementary-level conversations with your kids, you will not be exposing your kids to the verbal skills that they will need to communicate well as an adult.  On the other hand, if you engage your kids in more in-depth discussions, you will not only teach your kids outstanding verbal skills, but also critical thinking skills and other important life lessons that are tied to the specific discussions that you have with your kids.  For example, consider the following discussion.

Parent:  Janie, how was your day at school today? 

Janie:  I didn’t like it.

Parent:  What happened?

Janie:  The teacher got upset with me and Andrea for talking during class.

Parent:  Were you two really talking during class?

Janie:  Yes, but we were really quiet.

Parent:  Well, Janie, you know you’re not supposed to talk during class right?

Janie:  Yes.

Parent:  Was something going on that made talking during class necessary?  For example, was Andrea trying to tell you that she was ill and needing to leave class or something?

Janie:  No. 

Parent:  Well, it sounds like today was a good reminder to be quiet in class then, huh?  It’s ok: everybody makes mistakes sometimes.  What’s important is that you learn from your mistakes so that you don’t have to repeat them.

Janie:  Ok.

Parent:  Do you feel like your teacher treated you badly today?

Janie:  No, I guess not.  She just told us to be quiet.

Parent:  Well, that doesn’t sound so bad.  Do you feel better now that we’ve talked about it.

Janie:  Yes, Mommy.

Parent:  Good!  Oh, and I wanted to say one other thing:  earlier you said the teacher got upset with “me and Andrea”, but the correct way to say that is “The teacher got upset with Andrea and me.”  When you are listing two people, and one of them is you, the other person’s name is always listed first.  It’s not that the other person is more important than you are; it’s just good grammar.

Janie:  Ok, Mommy.

Parent:  Janie, it sounds like you’ve learned a lot today.  I’m sorry that the lesson came about as a result of a difficulty, but I’m really glad you learned some great lessons today nonetheless.  Tomorrow will be better because you learned what you did today.

In the conversation above, the parent is not only teaching Janie outstanding verbal skills (i.e., grammar rules  and complex words such as “nonetheless”), but also critical thinking skills (i.e., the relationship between errors, accountability, and growth opportunities) and life lessons (i.e., to respect the boundaries of authority figures such as teachers).

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