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E-TIP: Model and teach good conversational skills.

Parents and other family members are a child’s first teachers. I’m a fan of teaching families the skills to support their kiddos and only asking them to turn to a professional tutor or therapist when appropriate.

The skill of the day is — drumroll please — Conversation.

We may not agree on the reasons why our children demonstrate difficulties with conversational skills — the prevalence of TV shows where people shout out their opinions while ignoring those of others, the significant amount of time kids spend alone in front of a TV watching shows or playing video games, eating on the go in lieu of family dinners, etc. Whatever the reason, conversations are key to learning, communicating, and connecting. Here are some tips to build your child’s conversational skills.

Discuss with your child how to . . .

TAKE TURNS. Each person must take turns contributing to the discussion.

ASK QUESTIONS. For example:

  • When are you going?

  • What do you think about it?

  • Would you repeat that?

SHOW INTEREST in what the other person is saying. For example:

  • Verbally (e.g., Wow! That’s interesting.)

  • Non-verbally (e.g., make eye contact, nod if you agree)

MAKE COMMENTS. For example:

  • You look like you’re having fun in that picture.

  • I think _____.

  • I disagree because _____.


  • Something like that happened to me too. When I was little, I _____.

CHANGE THE TOPIC if no one has anything to say.

R E M E M B E R, you’re the first line of defense. Model good conversational skills on a daily basis to help students become better speakers and listeners.

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