By: Kacy Leuck, M.S., CCC-SLP
We all know that kids watch EVERYTHING that we do as adults. This includes watching how we interact socially with others. One of the best ways to help your child build their social skills is to provide them with good examples of positive and appropriate interactions with friends, family, and peers.
Learning all of the unspoken rules of conversation can be difficult for a child to pick up on, especially if they struggle with social skills. Speaking to your child about these rules and practicing them together can be fun and also helpful for their social skills! Here are some of the unspoken rules of conversation that you and your child can practice together:
Starting the Conversation
Always start with a greeting! This seems like it would be common sense, but many children struggle with this first step of starting the conversation. Explain to your child that if they are interested in talking to someone, there are different greetings they can use.
- What are you up to?
- Hi! Can I play with you?
How to Keep the Conversation Going
If your child is enjoying talking to someone, it is important for them to know what strategies they can use to keep the conversation going.
Many children think that conversation is all about talking, but an even more important part is listening. Use body language that lets your conversation partner know that you’re listening to them, such as facing your body toward them, making eye contact, nodding your head, etc. You can also make short comments to show them that you’re listening (e.g., “that’s cool!”).
Turn-taking in conversation is an important part of ensuring that each child gets to share their thoughts and ideas with each other. One way to make turn-taking practice more engaging is to add a physical element, such as rolling a ball back and forth or stacking checkers, to indicate whose turn it is during the conversation.
Asking questions shows that you’re interested in learning more about the other person. You can ask them about their opinions, interests, family, etc. (e.g., what is your favorite animal, do you play any sports).
Talk About Your Interests
Tell stories about the things you like, give your opinions, and share the experiences you’ve had, but be sure not to talk for too long so that your conversation partner gets a turn to speak.
Use More Than One Word
Reply with more than one word when possible so that the conversation doesn’t fizzle out.
Stay on Topic
Staying on topic helps the conversation continue, but it’s also important to be flexible with the flow of the conversation as the topic shifts.
Find Common Interests
If you are able to find common interests between you and your conversation partner, it will be much easier to keep the conversation going since you are passionate about the topic and will likely have a lot to say about it.
Ending the Conversation
When it feels like the conversation has come to an end, it’s a great idea to use a phrase to let your conversation partner know that you’re done talking.
- I had fun playing with you!
- I have to go. See you soon!
You can practice these rules at home by giving examples, talking through the rules together, and role-playing different situations that your child might experience during their day.
Boost Your Child’s Communication Skills With ETLC
If you find that your child may need some extra support, contact us today! At Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center, we strive to provide a comfortable and supportive environment while providing high-quality therapy services to increase each child’s skills. We partner with parents and other caregivers to promote the generalization of skills and strategies. If you have concerns about your child’s development, please contact us!
740 Community Drive, Unit A
North Liberty, IA 52317
5530 West Pkwy, Suite 300
Johnston, IA 50131