Conversations are crucial fordeveloping your child’s language skills. It may seem as though your child istalking to you all day long. But what does a healthy conversation look like? Conversations take two. They are a beautiful dance that includes looking into each other’s eyes, taking turns to share a look, a glance, a word orquestion. They involve active listening,give and take. Make sure you takesome moments each day to ‘listen with your eyes’ and really hear what yourchild has to say. Even if he is not using words, the dance of conversation is there. Your readiness to listen will open opportunities for your child to start a conversation. Don’t miss what she wants to say.
Conversations can happen anywhere. In the car, sitting in a shopping trolley, over a meal, in the bath or snuggled up in bed. It’s important that you respond to your child’s conversation with interest. You can do this with or without words. An encouraging smile, joining them in shouts of exclamation, or a well-placed request such as ‘tell me more’ can engage your child and encourage them to take extra turns in a conversation. We want all our Little People to practice taking plenty of turns in a conversation. Our willingness to listen, show interest and ask questions will help keep the interaction going. Take time today to put down whatever you are holding and focus your attention, for a few moments, on what your child is sharing with you.
Our Little People have been having conversations with us since they were only weeks old. Remember when you looked at your child and she looked back at you? He made a noise and you copied him? In those very early days you were setting up the ground rules for conversation. Your child is now probably using words or sentences to take his turn in a conversation. It’s important to talk with your child at a level that they can understand and learn from. This means that your conversations should be full of words your child knows, and peppered with plenty of new words they can learn. Keep following your child’s lead, talking about what interests them, and pitching your language at a stage slightly more complex than they are using. This gives them an opportunity to hear and develop more complex language.
What can you do if your child is not interested in having a conversation? We all know that we prefer talking to people about topics we find interesting. This is no different for your child. Children are far more likely to engage in communication when the topic at hand is something that is interesting and motivating. To find out what interests your child, take some time to sit back, wait, and follow his lead. Remember that conversations are far more than words, and a shared look, an inquiring glance, a conspiratorial giggle and a gesture such as pointing, are all forms of communication. When you respond to your child and encourage him to take another turn, then you’ve got yourself a conversation. What is your child interested in talking about today?
Written by Alison
Newcastle Speech Pathology