We were all children at one time, so why is it that so many adults find it difficult talking to kids? Maybe it’s because our interests are so different. Maybe it’s because we’re afraid of their uninhibited ways.
Whatever the reason you find it difficult talking to children may be, it’s worth getting past the issue. Kids look up to adults and not just because they’re smaller than we are. They’re interested in what we have to say because they’re going to be like us one of these days.
So here are a few tips to make talking to kids a little easier:
1. Talk normally. Some people feel the need to use goofy voices and other nonsense when they’re talking to kids. While some younger children might think it’s funny, it’s nearly impossible to have a honest-to-goodness conversation when you’re acting like a clown. Kids are smarter, and more sophisticated, than you give them credit for.
2. Talk about their interests. Admit it: deep down, when you see a kid with a cool, new toy, you’re dying to find out what it does. I don’t believe that we fully lose our childhood interests when we grow up. We bury them, but they’re still inside somewhere. So, take that opportunity to let your inner kid come out and engage them on their level. Do you find it boring when someone asks you; “What did you have for lunch today?” or “How was work today?” You’d probably rather talk about your new Blackberry or how great the game was last night. Kids are the same way; they want to talk about what excites them and what they’re into.
3. Let them lead. The best way to begin – and maintain – a conversation with a kid is to let them take you where they want to go. Ask them what they want to talk about and then go with it. Believe it or not, kids do have stories to tell. They do want to talk to adults, so let them. Remember that it’s not about you; it’s about them.
4. Get on their level. If you’re talking to really young children it’s best to get down on their level, not just mentally, but physically as well. Some kids get intimidated by an imposing figure standing over them and will clam up. Sitting down on the couch, or getting down on the floor with them, puts you both on equal ground. To a kid, it’s a physical sign that you’re really interested in what they have to say. They become more comfortable and will be more receptive to talking.
5. Change your clothes. Kids are just like us; they respond to the clothes people wear. If you’re in baggy shorts and a tee shirt you’re probably a little intimidated by a person in a business suit because you’re not on equal ground. Two guys at a ballpark wearing virtually the same clothes have an easier time talking to one another than if one was wearing a cop’s uniform. If you’re wearing clothes that kid’s associate with authority, they’ll likely respond to you as an authoritarian and not as a friend.
Remember; talking to kids doesn’t have to be a scary, awkward or uncomfortable affair. In fact, if you do it right, it can be downright fun.
Copyright 2008 David Bohl and SlowDownFast.com. All rights reserved.
Thanks to Intensive Care for the Nurturer’s Soul for including this post in the Carnival of Family Life, to Juice of Champions for listing this article in the March’s favorites, and to Today is That Day for publishing this post in the Doing It Differently Blog Carnival.