Children learn how to talk and listen as they grow and develop.
Positive talking and listening is about taking turns, speaking
politely, not interrupting and not talking back.

Talking and listening

You might know this scene. You’re on the phone or having a coffee
with a friend when your child bursts in – again – with a Lego
emergency or a demand to ‘watch me dance like Angelina, Mummy!’

This might be frustrating, but it’s also pretty normal. Learning
how to communicate with others is a big step for your child. It’ll
take time for your child to learn how to talk to and listen to
other people.

Self-regulation is an important part of learning to talk and listen,
and it’s harder for some children than others.

The kind of temperament your child has plays a part too – a very social
child might want to be involved in every conversation and have trouble
listening. On the other hand, a child who isn’t as social will probably
find it easier to listen but might find it harder to respond.

* Being able to talk and listen to others is important for kids. It helps
children make friends, be listened to, ask for what they need and mix with

Learning to talk and listen

When it comes to learning about talking and listening, your child will
learn from you. If you try to speak to your partner, your friends and
your children in the way you’d like your child to speak, it’ll help your
child to learn.

You can also teach your child by prompting, guiding and practising. Your
child is likely to learn best when you tell her clearly what you want her
to do. For example, you might:

prompt your child by saying, ‘Please say thank you to Grandma for taking
you to the park’

guide your child by saying, ‘Sarah, if I’m speaking to someone you need
to say “Excuse me”, and then wait until I’m ready to listen’

have practice conversations with your child where you take turns asking
questions and listening to answers.

Praising children when they’re communicating well will make them want to
keep doing it. For example, ‘I love the way you waited for me to finish
speaking before you started talking’. Or ‘You did really well with your
pleases and thank yous just now’.

You might like to make some rules about polite speaking and conversation.
It’s important to talk with your child about the rules so that he
understands what’s expected. You can also use consequences. For example,
you might create a consequence such as time-out for rude language.

* Children learn best when they have lots of chances to speak and practise
talking and listening. Pretend play is one fun way to do this. For example,
‘Let’s pretend that you’re the mummy talking on the telephone and I’m the
little boy. What should I do if I want to talk to you?’

Positive talking and listening

Being able to talk and listen well involves:

starting conversations

knowing how to get attention in the right way – for example, by waiting for
a break and saying ‘Excuse me’

using eye contact

taking turns talking and listening

being able to speak clearly and in sentences that are at the child’s age level
speaking politely, without talking back knowing when to stop talking.

Some children pick up this up quickly, and others might need a gentle reminder
for example, ‘Rana, please look at me when you’re speaking to me’.

* If your child seems to be lagging behind in using language (using sentences,
knowing how to speak with others), or in pronouncing words (lisping, stuttering
or forming sounds), you might want to see a speech pathologist. You could also
ask your child and family health nurse or GP for advice.

Dealing with talking back

Your child might talk back when you set limits, discipline behaviour or give
instructions. By talking back, your child is trying to give you her point of
view. Some children also talk back to get a reaction from you.

You can manage talking back in a positive way. If your child talks back to you,
the following strategies might help reduce it over time:

Respond calmly and remind your child of any family rules you have about speaking
politely and treating each other respectfully.

If your child keeps being rude, you might need to give a consequence for the
rudeness. This could be anything from practising another way to speak, to losing
a privilege such as screen time.

If you laugh or give your child lots of attention, you might accidentally reward
your child for talking back.

Managing interrupting

Interrupting usually happens when children can’t control their urge to talk.
But unless it’s an emergency, it’s important to help your child learn to wait.

If your child interrupts, you can try some or all of the following:

Remind your child of what your agreed family rule is. Then continue your
conversation until he says ‘Excuse me’.

When your child says ‘Excuse me’, try to reward her with your attention quickly.

She’ll see that if she does the right thing, she gets what she wants.

Praise your child when he waits and says ‘Excuse me’ so he’ll want to keep
speaking this way. For example, ‘You waited until I finished my call before
you asked for help with your doll. Well done!’

If you have an important call that really can’t be interrupted, try distracting
your child with some special toys or an interesting activity.

Conversation skills for children




Conversational skills build a foundation for developing friendships,
cooperating with other people, and communicating effectively with
people in every aspect of life. Although the art of conversation is
difficult to address, below are some strategies for teaching basic
conversational skills.

1. Model Skills – Children learn from watching other people and then
practicing skills. Role play is a fun and extremely effective way to
teach skills because it lets children learn from examples. During
role play model an appropriate greeting or conversation. Let children
see how questions are asked and answered and how people remain on topic.
Keep the ‘skits’ short and simple at first to establish the basic skills
then expand on them later.

2. Practice Small Steps - Just like any other skill, social skills need
to be broken into smaller steps and practiced repeatedly. Role play
greetings by teaching the child to say, “Hello” and then expand to,
“Hello, how are you?”

3. Multiple Phrases, Settings, and People – Conversational skills should
be developed with a variety of people, phrases, and novel settings. To
promote generalization of skills, introduce different questions and wording
when role playing such as: “Good morning,” “Hello,” and “Hi there!” By
doing this, children learn there are various greetings and responses. Since
conversations occur throughout the day with different people, recruit people
in the school or community to help the child practice. Ask the crossing
guard or librarian to engage the child in a conversation that incorporates
the skills being practiced.

4. Remember Body Language – When practicing conversational skills, be sure to
include key skills such as personal space (approximately an arm’s length is
considered appropriate in the United States), body language, and facial cues.
These unspoken aspects of conversation are often extremely difficult for
children to grasp and should be included in role play and instruction.

5. Ways to Reduce Repetition – Children frequently learn saying hello or asking
someone their name is part of a conversation, so they may repeatedly incorporate
these phrases in the same conversation. One way to practice saying something
only once is to hold up a finger as a visual cue during role play. For example,
if there is a question or phrase that should only be used once, hold up a finger
during conversational practice time. After the child asks the question put your
finger down. This is a cue that the child already has asked the question. After
the child has used this cue successfully a number of times, practice without the
visual cue and then praise them for remembering to ask the question only once.
Another strategy is to have the child keep a hand (preferably the left hand if you
are teaching them to shake hands) in their pocket with one finger pointed. After
they ask their favorite question, have them stop pointing or stop pointing and
remove their hand from their pocket. This allows the child to remind themselves
they used this phrase or question and other people are not able to see this
personal cue.

6. Praise and Review - Praise children for greeting people, using a phrase once,
or ending a conversation appropriately. Often it is best to praise children
during role play or after the child is away from other people to avoid embarrassing
them. To reinforce the skill, be sure to review what they did correctly. For
example, “I like the way you asked Mr. James if he was having a nice day only once.”
If a novel situation occurs naturally, role play it later and use it as a learning

Teaching Conversational Skills




Good conversation questions to use when talking with children.


•How old are you?

•When is your birthday?

•Do you have any brothers or sisters?

•Do you have any pets?

•Who is your best friend?

•Do you play a musical instrument?

•What is your favorite color?


•What grade are you in?

•What school do you go to?

•What is your favorite subject at school? Why?

•What is your least favorite subject at school? Why?

•What do you do during recess?

•Do you ride the bus to school?

•What is your teacher’s name?

•How much homework do you get each day?

•What did you learn in school today?


•What did you have for lunch?

•What is your favorite food?

•What is your favorite candy?

•What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

•What is your favorite pizza topping?


•What is your favorite book?

•What is your favorite toy?

•Do you play any sports?

•What is your favorite TV show?

•What is your favorite movie?

•What kind of music do you like to listen to?

•Do you like to play video games?


•What do you do on the weekends?

•What do you want to be when you grow up?

•What is the one thing you can't live without?

•If you had three wishes, what would they be?

•What do you do after school?

• If you could have a super power, what would it be? Why?

•Describe your perfect day.

•If you could go on vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go?

•If you won $100, what would you do with it?

Conversation Starters for Kids




Preschool social skills depend on three abilities:

• self-control

• empathy

• verbal communication

Many people assume that kids need to spend lots of time with peers to
develop strong preschool social skills.

They don't.

Play-dates and preschool attendance can enrich your child’s daily life.
But socialization--the process of learning how to get along with others
is not the same thing as socializing. Frequent socializing with peers
is not necessarily a good way for preschoolers to learn about cooperation,
sharing, and emotional self-control. n fact, the opposite may be true.

Too much time with peers might make kids behave badly. It’s the sulky
elephant in the room that no one likes to talk about, and even posh,
upscale preschools may experience problems. In studies of American
preschoolers, the more time kids spent in center-based care, the more
likely they were to develop externalizing behavior problems. For
details, see this article on the effects of peers on preschool social
skills. When parents are better than peers Loving, sensitive parents are
ideal social tutors. Unlike preschool peers, parents draw on extensive
emotional resources when they interact with children.

Parents can

• understand the causes and effects of emotions

• see things from a child’s perspective

• interpret the emotions of others

• match social interactions to a child’s developmental level

• describe emotions verbally

• regulate their own emotions

• appreciate the long-term consequences of social acts

No wonder the core preschool social skills





are best nurtured by you.

Preschool social skills




Teach your preschoolers about communication with exciting hands-on
activities. They will help the young children build communication
skills, as well as social skills. Awarding the preschoolers with
small stickers and toys will encourage them to play along. Using
age-appropriate activities builds the foundation for a lifetime of
healthy communication.

Non-Verbal Activities

Create non-verbal communication activities for preschoolers to teach
them how to communicate with one another without talking. Have the
children sit in a circle and whisper an emotion, such as happy or sad,
into one of the preschooler’s ears. He must stand in the middle of the
circle and act out the emotion.

The other preschoolers must try to guess the emotion he is acting out.
For another non-verbal activity, the children can play a game of charades.
Give a child an action word such as "wiggle," "stomp" or "dance." One
child acts out the word and the other children have to guess it.

Verbal Activities

Ask the children to sit in a circle and select one child to go first. She
will start a story by saying “Once upon a time.” The next player must add
onto the story. Each player must add one sentence onto the story. Tell the
children they must communicate together by adding sentences to the story
that make sense. For another verbal activity, have each child make a sound
that expresses a communication, such as “Shhhhh” or “Mmmm-Hmmm.”


Have children draw a series of pictures on a long sheet of paper to tell a
story, similar to a comic strip. Another picture activity is to have the
children communicate by drawing pictures back and forth to one another. For
example, one child can draw a picture of an animal and passes the paper to
another child. That child can draw a different animal or add something to
the animal picture, such as trees or grass, or have the animal perform an


Explain to the preschoolers that signs are a way of visual communication.
Show the children a few signs, such as traffic lights, a stop sign or a
yield sign. Tell the children what the signs mean. Give each child a sheet
of paper and have him use crayons to draw a picture of as many signs as he
can think of.

Communication Activities for Preschoolers




Communication Crafts for Preschoolers

Communication Games for Children

Communication Games for Children

Kids Communication Activities

Preschool Lesson Plan Ideas

Kids Communication Activities

Activities on Communication Skills

How to Pick Activities for a Preschooler

Social Emotional Activities for Preschoolers

Activities for Preschoolers on My Country

Communication Games for Kids

Ideas for Preschool Language Development Activities

Classroom Communication Games




It's no secret that language skills are important for success in
life, and being able to sustain a conversation helps kids build
meaningful relationships. Although most kids learn their language
and conversation skills organically, you still have a significant
part to play in your child's social development.

Recognizing opportunities for conversation and interaction helps
your child pick up language skills and understand the basics of
social interaction.

Make It Real and Relevant

Just like you enjoy talking about things that interest you, so does
your child, so engage her in conversation topics that relate to her
daily activities. For example, see playtime as an opportunity for
discussion. Ask your child about what her dolls are doing if she's
role-playing with them on the floor, or ask her how she could build
the highest tower possible with her set of blocks. You also could
ask your kids about a movie or TV show you saw together, or comment
about what's going around you at the park.

Encourage Listening Skills

Engaging in meaningful conversation is as much about listening as it
is about talking. Encourage your child to listen and pay attention by
reading with him and asking him about details of the story.

For example, after reading that a character in your son's book hid
under the bed, check that your child was listening by saying: "Where
did the boy hide?" When your child asks you a question and your provide
an answer, occasionally check for listening and comprehension. Ask "What
did you hear me say?" Praise your child for his good listening skills if
he answers you correctly.

Talk About Non-Verbal Cues

When it comes to understanding a conversation, nonverbal cues are important
for getting what someone's trying to say. Help your child understand facial
expressions by asking about them. For example, if you're reading a picture
book, point to one of the characters and ask, "How do you think she feels
right now? Why do you think she feels that way?"

To help your child understand jokes, ask him what it means when someone says
something that sounds serious while wearing a big smile.

Use Lots of Questions

Questions keep conversations going, so ask your child lots of them and encourage
your child to ask questions of her own. Favor open-ended questions, instead of
questions with yes or no answers. You'll get a more detailed response from your
child. Get your child to ask other children questions too. Make suggestions if
she struggles with initiating conversation: "Why don't you go ask that other
little boy what game he's playing in the sandbox? If you want to play too, you
could always ask to join in."

Know Developmental Milestones

While most children develop conversation skills on their own when parents and
caregivers offer opportunities, others may need extra help to catch up with
their peers. Eighteen-month-old children should already show basic interaction
skills by offering toys to others and responding briefly to caregiver comments.
The California Department of Education gives the example of a child responding
"woof" to a parent talking about a toy dog, for example. By 36 months, most
children can engage in brief back-and-forth exchanges, building on what a
caregiver said. If you have concerns about your child's language development,
a speech-language pathologist can offer a comprehensive evaluation and
professional advice.

Five Tips on Conversation Skills for Kids




10 Fun Ways to Teach Kids Communication

12 Activities to help your child with social skills

Appropriate conversation skills printable worksheets

The BEST Time to Start Teaching Communication Skills: Preschool!


Coaching Conversation Skills

Communicating Effectively With Children

Communication preschool lesson plans

Communication Tips for 3-Year- Olds

Communication and Your 4- to 5-Year-Old

Conversation Lesson Plans for English Learners at All Levels

Conversation lesson plan worksheets

Conversational Skills

Conversation Skills


Conversation Skills

Conversational Skills in Children

Conversation Skills Lesson Plans, Worksheets

Conversational skills of preschool and school-age children with cleft lip and palate

Conversation Skills Worksheets

Conversation Starters

Developing Interpersonal Skills in Children

English Worksheets for Kids

Free Lesson Plans

Free printable worksheets for preschool-sixth grade

Free Worksheets for Kids

Games for Teaching Conversation Skills to Teens

Guidelines For Parent/Child Communication

Helping Children Build Language Skills

Kids Worksheets


Listening And Speaking Strategies

Preschool Children Communication Skills

Preschool skills checklist

Preschool Social Skolls

Six Communication Skills Every Child Should Know

Social Skills Activities

Social Skills/Pragmatics

Social Skills Worksheets

Supporting Your Child’s Communication Skills

Teacher–Child Conversation in the Preschool Classroom

Teaching Children How to Converse

Teaching Conversational Skills

Teaching Conversational Skills

Teaching Conversational Skills to Children with Autism

Teaching Ideas for Conversation Skills

Teaching Your Students How to Have a Conversation

Understanding Language Development in Preschoolers


Difference Between

Academic Educational Encyclopedia

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