Teaching kids to be confident when speaking with others, especially adults

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Like I said in my earlier post, our calendar is filling up fast. We have made it through signing up for co-op classes, our girls day out event (which was amazing!), and one field trip so far. We have many more coming up. Since my kids are getting older and one is actually now my height at 11 (I don’t know if that means I’m short or he is just extremely tall, I guess a bit of both), they are starting to have more conversations with adults when we go out. I’ve decided to take this week and work one on one with them on meeting new people, from shaking their hands, looking them in the eye, to being able to hold their own in a conversation. So far, they have already surprised me at how well they conduct themselves around new people, especial adults. They are usually really respectful, don’t typically interrupt a when someone else is talking and they stay alert in the conversation. But I would like to fine tune this more. I would like to teach them more than just answering questions as they are asked. I learned a lot during my former years in sales and would like to teach them what has helped me during my sales experience and in regular conversations.

Here is my list so far to work with them, I will add more here as I do to my list.

  • Initiating conversations
  • Giving a good handshake
  • Looking people in the eyes
  • Asking questions about the person they are talking to, their family and their interests
  • Not answering a question with a simple “Yes” or “No.”
  • Being a good listener
  • Knowing when it is their turn to speak
  • Making the right gestures like laughing or nodding at the appropriate times

I know it will take more than just one week for them to actually master any one of these skills, but this will be a great start and the rest will come with practice.

Some tips to keep in mind,

Let your kids sit and listen to you have conversations with other adults. I know when your kids are little, it can be hard if they are trying to interrupt, keep asking you questions or playing loudly close to you. (In a few weeks we will work on that.) Sending them off to a different room or outside to play is just fine when your company has brought their kids to play with yours or if you need to just have a good adult conversation. But on occasion, have them sit next to you and learn by your example.

Don’t answer for your kids. Even if your children are shy, encourage them to answer questions when asked. Let them tell the waiter what they would like to drink and eat. And one thing I know I’m bad about is further explaining what my kids are already saying.

Don’t talk gibberish to your young ones. I know it may be cute to hear your toddlers mispronounce words, especially speggitti, but when you talk to them using “hers” instead of she, or “we” instead of us, or purposely misprounce words like “wuv” instead of love, these are things that can cause speech delay and they will have to unlearn this and learn to pronounce words correctly.


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