Eliminate the Competition

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Hello! Welcome to the 3rd Key to Even Better Communication with your Child.

This week we’re going to go into a little more detail about taking turns. It can be hard for children to take turns when they’re competing with others to talk. In our house, when I come home in the evening, if I am trying to catch up with my husband about the day, suddenly there appears a very loud four year old in my face, interrupting and trying to claim her turn loudly and vociferously!

Even when you have only two people talking there is competition for the turn to talk. As adults we can do this rather graciously and hold our tongue until the other person is finished. We know when we can take a turn even though the clues are very subtle. It’s things like hearing a questioning intonation or a kind of flat intonation or a pause. They let us know that we can take a turn now.

In families it can be hard when everyone is clamouring to have their say at once! Children are often very enthusiastic about sharing their stories and seem fit to burst to tell you all about it!

It might happen too when you have two adults talking but one or more eager little listeners just bursting for the speaker to stop talking so they can jump in. (My little one usually makes this crystal clear by declaring loudly ‘Stop talking Mama!’.)

In our house, there is one child and two adults and it can get boisterous at times. So what do we do? Well, we talk about turns. So I might say ‘It’s Mama’s turn to talk now. Your turn when I’m finished’. Or I might say ‘Okay, you go first’ if she is particularly insistent on talking!!

The challenge:

First of all, you have to spend some time observing turn-taking in your house. There will be times when it is particularly hectic and other times when it is more relaxed. And some people may be quicker than others at getting their turn.
• If someone isn’t as quick at grabbing the chance to speak, you could let them go first. You could say ‘Okay, Ben, it’s your turn first’.
• You could make sure everyone gets a turn at going first over the week.
• Or another way that you can make turn taking rules more explicit by saying ‘One person at a time’.
• Or you could have a competition to see who can listen for the longest time- maybe they get extra dessert!

I’d love to hear what for what works for you so please let me know by leaving a comment below. And if you like this post, please pass it on to someone else who might like it too. Thank you!

Let’s get talking

MP

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