Turn, Baby, Turn

Hello and welcome to the second article in the 5 part series: 5 Keys to Even Better Communication with your Child.

This week we’re going to explore taking turns in conversations which follows on from the last post about slowing down. When you slow down, you can spot nice opportunities to give your child a chance to take the first turn in the conversation.

Conversations are all about taking turns. In Western culture, one person usually speaks at a time. If two people start talking together, the overlap doesn’t last very long & it generally goes back to one person talking at a time. There are some cultures where it is usual for people to speak at the same time. So with this tip, you have to work out if it is culturally appropriate for you.

It’s amazing how early turn taking starts. It begins when you are feeding your baby. Imagine that! Anyone with a baby reading, try this out: notice when you talk to your baby while nursing/feeding. Usually what happens is the adult talks while burping/winding the baby & stays silent while the baby is drinking. Now they may look at the baby or touch them but they tend to stay silent. This is the start of turn taking & how babies learn to communicate. Mama says something or does something & then it’s my turn & so on.

Children also need to learn how to start a conversation which can be tricky if several people are trying to do it at the same time. I know for definite that my little girl wants a turn when I hear her saying loudly “Stop talking Mama. It’s my turn now”!!

When the adult speaks at the same time as the child, the adult may assume they have the right to continue talking (saying something like ‘Mama’s talking’- I have definitely done this more than once!!) & that the child should wait until the adult is finished. When two children speak at the same time, one might give way or they might both keep going although it means nobody gets heard or understood & tempers may begin to fray with the volume & system overload! So how do you go about smoothing out turn-taking bumps? It’s all in the challenge:

The challenge:
• Pick a time that suits you. For example, during
• Don’t automatically start the conversation ball rolling.
• Instead, wait for your child to make a comment, show you
something, or tell you something.
• Then you can make a comment in response.
• So, if she says, ‘There’s something cheesy tasting in
’, you could say ‘Mmm. I love cheese. It’s so
• Then wait again for her to say something.

You can also do this during story-time where you open the book and wait for your child to say something before you start reading. We’ll be covering reading in another series so keep an eye out for it!

Please let me know how you get on by leaving a comment below. And if you like this post, please pass it on to someone else who might like it too. Thanks a mil for reading and see you in 2 weeks for the next installment!

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