Creative Child

8 Ways to Teach Your Child the Art of Conversation

by Deborah Song


3. Teach manners. Knowing how to say please, raising your hand, and waiting your turn to speak can go a long way.

4. Let your child speak to grownups directly. Kids may feel comfortable talking to their peers, but encourage them also to speak up at doctor’s visits, parties and other social settings so they become empowered to speak without feeling intimidated. And as far as it can be helped, don’t do the asking or speaking for him, pending he is old enough to understand stranger danger.  If your child thinks the coach was unfair, for instance, encourage him to make the first attempt to plead his case. In other words, don’t be quick to rescue your child. Knowing how to solve problems through good communication is an indispensable life skill.

5. Ask questions that require more than one-word answers. One complaint a recent college interviewer told me was the inability of college applicants to give more than one-word answers. Even many 18-year-olds couldn’t elaborate why a certain book was their favorite or why they felt passionate about an activity. She recommended engaging kids by asking ‘why’ and ‘how’ on a daily basis.

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6. Share your own stories with your child. Talk to your child as you would a friend or cohort and share something about your day.  And not just in preschool lingo either.  Your child would be much more interested in why you think you did a good job at work or why you didn’t like the way someone spoke to you, than the color of a shirt your coworker was wearing. Revealing vulnerabilities will engage your child and turn her into empathetic human beings. Try to create communal settings that encourage conversation, like at the dinner table.

7. Encourage your child to tell his own stories. There are many facets of good conversation. A Q&A is one thing and the skill of a raconteur quite another. Knowing how to tell a story from beginning to end requires an impressive array of skills, which includes sequencing, comprehension and tonality. This can be a fun activity. Remember, kids love to tell stories over a campfire or over milk and cookies.

8. Write in a journal.  One of the main reasons why kids have a hard time giving more than simple one-word answers is because they haven’t really thought about what they’ve been asked.  Since writing requires more rumination than speaking, developing the habit of writing in a journal is a great skill that can translate to good conversational skills.

Deborah Song is a Canadian-born, Los Angeles-based writer, who obtained her master's in journalism from New York University. She is the founder of, and is passionate about helping parents find better work-life balance and proper support through community.

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