Magazine article Work & Family Life

Interchange: How Important Are 'Real' Conversations with Kids?

Magazine article Work & Family Life

Interchange: How Important Are 'Real' Conversations with Kids?

Article excerpt

Q

I have two children, 5 and 8, and it seems like we talk to each other a lot, but we don't have many real conversations. Is this important? Do you have any ideas on things to talk about that will keep everyone in the family interested when we're all together?

-H.G., Denver

A

Yes, it's important to have "real" conversations with your children-for lots of reasons. It helps kids to organize their thoughts, use a more sophisticated vocabulary, more complex speech patterns and generally become more articulate. It also encourages children to be better listeners and to understand and care about others' points of view.

Talking at the dinner table is ideal but even brief moments of conversation can be valuable. Asking specific, rather than general questions helps to get things going. Instead of "How was school today?" try "What were the best and worst things that happened in school today?" Ask your child's opinion:

"Do you think your cousin Ellen would like that movie you saw last week?" and follow up with "why" or "why not."

Involve children in family decision-making. "We're trying to decide whether to go camping or to a theme park on our vacation. …

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