Conversation Skills for Kids (5 Helpful Strategies)

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Page last updated: 24/09/2022

Here, we are going to describe six helpful conversation skills for kids. Readers will first learn about the kind of challenges kids face in conversations. Then, we will look at each of these skills more carefully.

What are Conversation Skills for Kids?

There are many skills kids can learn to help them have more successful conversations. A quick list of some of these skills is as follows:

  • Using Mood Charts
  • Draw it Out
  • Highlights of the Day
  • Whole Body Listening
  • Box Breathing
  • Magical Wish

What Conversation Challenges do Kids Face?

Life can be pretty challenging and confusing for children since their brains and bodies are still developing. They’re just learning to adjust to the world and pick up skills that help them navigate their way through the journey of life.

One such challenge kids face is being able to have successful conversations. Through experience and practice, they learn how to express their thoughts and feelings, while listening to others do the same.

A few obstacles they might face in this endeavour include:

  • Not having the words to express themselves
  • Getting distracted too easily
  • Being too overwhelmed to talk
  • Shyness
  • Anxiety
  • Fear of failure
  • Not knowing how to behave in public

6 Conversation Skills for Kids

In this section, we are going to look at six helpful strategies to build conversation skills in children. Each item mentioned on our list needs parental guidance and plenty of practice for the skill to develop effectively. 

Using Mood Charts

Quite often, children need to communicate their feelings so that they can make requests for the things they need and desire. However, as their emotional intelligence is only developing, they could use all the help they can get to meet this end.

Mood charts are extremely helpful in this process because they give children a vocabulary to describe what they feel. There are many different kinds of mood charts so you can pick the one for your child that is most convenient and accessible.

Some mood charts have a table with time slots for days of the week. They have buttons or images that you can stick or circle to express what you feel. For children, it’s always easier to have a labelled face drawn with the appropriate facial expression.

Kids can pick the expression they feel and use that word to describe what they’re feeling. For example, if your child is feeling scared about something, they can mark the scared face on the mood chart and construct a sentence to share what they feel. Mood thermometers can also be used to describe the intensity of the feeling.

Conversation Skills for Kids (5 Helpful Strategies)

Draw it Out

Sometimes, even if you hand out mood charts, your child won’t be able to find the right words. Maybe they’re a bit too worked up to engage the cognitive side of their brain. In times like these, it helps to hand them a large sheet of paper and a box of crayons.

Tell your child, “Draw it out! Show me what you feel.” This technique can be a lifesaver if you want to avoid the stress of a tantrum or meltdown. Keep an eye on your kid to notice if things are escalating at any point.

Before the anticipated explosion, hand them the stationery and make a habit of expressing overwhelming feelings in this way. Draw it Out is a great anger management skill as it buys time and prevents outbursts. 

Once the drawing is complete, sit down with your child and have a little chat about what they made. Point out what you feel when you look at it and try to be as detailed as you can. Your attunement will validate the child and encourage them to speak rationally about what they felt.

Highlights of the Day

Highlights of the Day is a nifty conversation tool to use during mealtimes together with the family. A lot of parents complain that their kids don’t share anything about their day when they return from school. 

By making this activity a daily habit, you provide your children with prompts to speak up about their experiences daily. The rules are simple; everyone must mention one positive and one negative highlight of their day.

You read that right, everyone has to do it since kids learn best when desired behaviours are modelled to them consistently. Talking about one thing they liked and one thing they disliked about their day allows them to bond with you.

Moreover, if they’re going through any recurrent issue like bullying, loneliness, or performance anxiety, you’ll be able to intervene well in time before things take a turn for the worse.

Whole Body Listening

You must teach your kids that conversations aren’t just about talking. Listening, too, is a big part of the game. Encourage your child to listen more attentively by showing them how to do Whole Body Listening.

The brilliant thing about this skill is that it comes with a set of specific instructions for each body part. The more concrete the steps, the easier it is for kids to follow. If you just say, listen carefully, they might not know what that requires them to do.

On the other hand, Whole Body Listening tells them exactly what they need to do. The rules for this kind of listening are:

  • Make eye contact
  • Mirror the speaker’s facial expression
  • Ears open and listening attentively
  • Body facing the speaker
  • Arms and legs still 
  • Feet pointing to the speaker

When your child follows each of these steps, they can’t help but absorb whatever information the speaker shares with them. It takes practice, of course, so make sure you do some trial runs at home before trying it out in public.

Box Breathing

Children frequently find themselves unable to speak or find the right words when they are overwhelmed by strong emotions. It’s hard to speak with conviction or authority if you are crying, furious, or terrified.

One skill that everyone, especially kids, should learn to be better at conversations is to keep their bodies relaxed. Box Breathing is a relaxation technique that can help them ground themselves and speak with more clarity.

To practice Box Breathing, all you need to do is count to 4 in your head as you inhale, count to 4 again as you hold your breath, count to 4 as you exhale, and then, count again as you hold your breath.

Think of it as your breath forming a box or square temporally with 4 seconds a side. Breathing in this way sends a signal to your brain that you are not in danger, thus allowing your muscles to release tension. Once relaxed, your brain is a lot more coherent in conversations.

Magical Wish

The Magical Wish technique is particularly meant for conversations with adults like parents, teachers, and other authority figures. Since children are dependants, they don’t have much autonomy in their lives.

They almost always have to answer to someone and be obedient to receive favourable consequences. In such a power dynamic, it can be incredibly hard for them to express their desires. A lot of children either whine, nag, or throw tantrums if they’re not getting what they want.

In moments like these, they can be taught a much more pleasant way to state their desires. Teach your child to use the Magical Wish statement to express themselves in a non-annoying way that won’t lead to more agitation: “I wish I could have _____”

Using this statement gives them a chance to speak out and also provides a bit of satisfaction through the power of imagination. They’re more likely to be less reactive if they have to accept a no if they at least get to fantasise about their desire.

Conclusion

Here, we described six helpful conversation skills for kids. Readers first learned about the kind of challenges kids face in conversations. Then, we looked at each of these skills more carefully.

The conversation skills included in this blog were Using Mood Charts, Draw it Out, Highlights of the Day, Whole Body Listening, Box Breathing, and Magical Wish.

FAQs (Conversation Skills for Kids)

How do you teach kids conversation skills?

Keep in mind the following points if you want to teach children how to have conversations:

  • Model a good conversation
  • Encourage taking turns talking
  • Listen with your whole body
  • Making eye contact
  • Ask open-ended questions
  • Show them how to read physical cues
  • Practice chatting

What are 10 good communication skills?

Here is a list of 10 communication skills that make conversations easier and more fruitful:

  • Active listening
  • Reflective listening
  • I-statements
  • Reciprocal conversation
  • Asking questions
  • Clarity and precision
  • Mutual respect
  • Open-mindedness
  • Empathy
  • Friendliness

How do you teach conversation skills to preschoolers?

With toddlers, the best way to teach is by modelling, breaking down the task into smaller ones, and praising them for each step towards progress. You can even encourage them to practice what they learnt through role-playing games. Nevertheless, the most important step in this process is to praise them effusively.

References

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