Tablets, iPads, cellphones, E-Readers, and other electronic devices are exposed to children as soon as they develop an interest. Children, as young as six months old, are often able to navigate technological devices, including unlocking and accessing apps. By the time they’re school-aged, the obsession with technology escalates and the connection to technology causes a disconnection to the family.
So how can parents compete with the engagement and entertainment that technology provides? It’s a simple fix really, teach your kids to communicate and engage in conversation at an early age. Communication is an effective way to develop a stronger bond with your child. General questions just won’t cut it. You’ll simply get a vague reply from your child. At that point, in the child’s mind, the conversation is over. Many parents have a strong desire to build a positive relationship with their children which is why they ask this question. However, modeling how to respond to this question is often something parents neglect to teach. Instead of asking a child how was their day, spend time sharing your day with them. You can share different aspects of your day, including the good, the bad, and the ugly (G- rated version). These are often conversations that children need to hear in order to better understand how to articulate their daily activities expressively.
As an educator, I’ve come to realize that children use one-word answers not because they don’t have more to say but because their goal is to respond to the question that was asked, correctly. Parents should be commended for their commitment to creating a communicative culture with their precious gems.
Here are a few helpful tips for promoting conversations with your little one. Parents can aid in the communication process by teaching their child how to engage in dialogue. Instead of asking children vaguely about their day, you can tell them about your own day. Providing little ones with examples of conversations helps them understand how to host their own conversations with others eventually. Here’s an example:
“Today was a very exciting day at work. I had back to back appointments and each client had a different issue. I usually have about 8 clients per day but today I had 19. The busy atmosphere at work made every minute exciting.”
Behaviors that we model consistently for our children are actions that they will begin to naturally emulate.
For older children, avoid asking questions that can be answered with one word. Use the following types of scenarios: Explain something exciting or interesting that happened to you or anyone in your class. Teach me something you learned today.
Act out a part of your day for me. Tell me about a situation that’s frustrating you. Statements, such as the ones listed above are reminder questions that help trigger a memory or thought. These types of statements help children develop more dialogue. Teaching children to become conversationalists helps them to gain social skillsets as well as connect and engage with the family and various people they come in contact with throughout the world around them.
Dr. Nadra Powell
Owner/Educator of High Achievers Education Center Inc