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Teaching Conversation Skills

By Julie Almquist, M.S., LIMHP

Father and son talking at breakfast.

Teaching good conversation skills is one of the most helpful things you can do for your children. You can help your kids become better conversationalists while brushing up on your skills as well. Here are some tactics for being a strong conversationalist that your family can practice together.

Contribute to discussions by:

  • Looking at the people who are talking
  • Waiting for a point when no one else is talking
  • Making a short, appropriate comment that relates to the topic being discussed
  • Choosing words that will not be offensive or confusing to others
  • Giving other people a chance to talk

Keep conversations going by:

  • Maintaining a relaxed, but attentive, posture.
  • Nodding your head to give ongoing encouragement
  • Asking follow-up questions that pertain to what the other person has just said
  • Avoiding fidgeting, looking away or yawning
  • Not interrupting
  • Taking turns in the conversation and saying “excuse me” when interruption of others occurs
  • Checking to see if they understand what you have said (facial expressions, asking, etc.)

Close conversations by:

  • Changing topics only when everyone appears to be finished talking about a particular issue
  • Changing to a topic that somehow relates to the previous one
  • Allowing everyone a chance to talk about the current topic
  • Waiting for a comfortable break in the conversation to leave