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Posts Tagged ‘conversation’

5 Ways to Make Tough Conversations with Kids Easier

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1. Time it right.

Weekend mornings are preferable because you’re not rushing to get everyone out the door and your kids can return to you—and the topic—if they have more questions or fears later in the day. Many kids (and grownups) are grouchy and exhausted by the evening.

“And even if your kids seem to be in a great mood, a drowsy brain can’t take in information as well, and any tears or anxious questions make it hard to wind down for sleep,” says Dawn Huebner, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and author of the self-help children’s book

2. Rehearse beforehand.

If the situation is emotional for you—for example, your pet needs to be put down or someone in your family is sick—take time to practice what you’re going to say, either in front of a mirror or with your partner or a close friend. That will help you keep your composure and deliver the news in the way that you want, says Dr. Huebner. “It’s okay for kids to see that their parents are sad, but the initial conversation sets the tone, and if you’re sobbing or stumbling over your words, your children may feel frightened.”

3. Speak on their level.

Complex concepts such as moving, divorce, or death are difficult for children to comprehend, says Paige Greytok, a family psychotherapist in Greenwich, Connecticut. If you flood your kids with all the nitty-gritty details, they may get overwhelmed or shut down. Instead, use short and straightforward sentences with age-appropriate explanations.

4. Validate in the moment.

Labeling emotions can help your young child put words to whatever feelings bubble up. For instance, you can say, “It sounds like that makes you sad” or “Is that scary?” But resist the urge to jump into fix-it mode. “It’s tempting to minimize feelings by saying something like ‘Don’t be afraid,’ but remember, whatever your child is feeling is real and valid to her,” says Dr. Huebner. “Children need to ‘feel felt’ before they can move on to things like processing and problem solving.”

5. Check back in.

The conversation isn’t over when it ends, points out Greytok. With a hard topic, kids will have further questions, so make it clear that you’re always available to discuss this again and that they can come to you with any questions or worries, big or small.

 

This article was written by Kate Rockwood from Parents and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

The Easy Way Busy Parents Can Boost Their Kid’s Language Skills

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It’s not just talking to them a lot.

When teaching kids language skills, it makes sense to expose them to as many words as possible through lots and lots of talking. However, a new study found a strategy that may be even more effective.

Research published in the journal Psychological Science suggests that back-and-forth conversations make more of an impact in developing Broca’s area, the region of the brain most closely associated with speech, than teaching kids many words, Scientific American reports.

The study, led by John Gabrieli, Ph.D., a neuroscientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, involved 36 children, ages 4 to 6, from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds. Researchers first used standardized tests to evaluate the children’s verbal ability, then evaluated kids’ brains using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while the child listened to 15-second stories. Finally, they examined the communication at home between adults and kids for two days, measuring adult and child speech, and back-and-forth verbal exchanges separated by no more than five seconds, called “conversational turns.”

During the experiments, researchers found that a child’s verbal ability score increased by one point with every additional 11 conversational turns per hour.

For Kathryn Hirsh-Pasek, Psy.D., the director of the Infant Language Laboratory at Temple University, who was not involved in the study, the new findings provide a much-needed missing link in our understanding of language and learning. Dr. Hirsh-Pasek tells Scientific American, “We have known for quite a while that conversational turns—or what in my work we call conversational duets—are very important for building a foundation for language and maybe for learning generally. What hadn’t been done is to link it where we knew it had to be linked—to changes in the brain.”

The research confirms that parents should do do more than just babble at kids; it’s also about connecting with them and encouraging them to engage. “If we learn better how to follow the eyes of our child and comment on what they are looking at, we will have strong language learners,” Hirsh-Pasek says. “And language is the single-best predictor of school readiness—in math, social skills and reading skills. It is the foundation for learning.”

According to Scientific American, the findings confirm the conclusion of several studies suggesting that socioeconomic status is related to the number of words a child learns in their developing years, namely that there is a 30-million-word gap between the poorest and the richest children. The study is also noteworthy because it indicates that conversational turns have a stronger correlation to the development of Broca’s area than a child’s socioeconomic status.

It may be good news for busy working parents. Instead of drilling your kids with tedious flashcards to improve their vocabulary, have a fun and meaningful conversation instead.

 

This article was written by Maria Zaldivar from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.