Teaching your child how to talk to adults might seem like a large task. It fits in with developing general communication skills but is a particular hurdle that many children struggle to manage. Especially for those children who find it a struggle. Remember that, like many things, it is a series of small steps that gradually builds up. Children start at different stages along the road for a variety of reasons. As a parent or guardian, you want your child to be someone who can voice their opinions and express themselves articulately and confidently. You don’t want to make your child scared of being an adult.
Most children are far more comfortable conversing with their peers than adults, and that makes total sense. It’s also essential children learn how to correctly answer questions and speak for themselves as they grow older. A clear example of this is talking to a health professional.
Also, communicating with adults is vital for a child’s language development, according to this study. It also helps them become confident adults. How then do we get children to feel comfortable around adults?
The final one is that in the modern jobs market people are now seen as ‘brands’. Your child will have to network, both verbally and online.
Why Are Some Children Wary of Speaking to Adults?
Children may be wary or avoid speaking to adults for different reasons. It could be fear, anxiety, or shyness. Perhaps they have an unpleasant outcome they’ve already envisioned in their minds and want to avoid. Some children have a social phobia that affects their ability to communicate or respond effectively, especially to unfamiliar persons.
Suppose you notice your child is extremely quiet, fearful, or reserved among people, and the behavior continues despite what you try to do. In that case, you should speak with a therapist or any other professional who could help. This could also be a reason why your child struggles to make friends.
Adults can seem intimidating to children. Perhaps due to body size or the strange big words they speak. As children grow into adolescents, they have a lot more to talk about while they mature. Some adolescents or teenagers fear talking to adults because they feel they’ll be misunderstood, judged, or could get a horrible reaction. It could also be that the adults they speak to share no interests with them.
Steps To Help Teach Your Children to Talk to Adults
- Give them lots of opportunities. When they are little, ask them to order their own food in a cafe. Or a bit older, talk to the shopkeeper. Demystifying these interactions by having countless interactions at an early age will give them confidence. The conversations you have around the dinner table and in the car, although sometimes tedious, are the unconscious practice sessions that they have. How do you talk to them? How do you talk to your friends?
- Teach them to speak respectfully. You can have more meaningful conversations with those around you and also hold their attention if you address them with respect. Manners might seem outdated, however, they give structure to talking and meeting adults. Children should learn how to adequately address and speak with both familiar and unfamiliar adults with respect. Children find it hard to know how formal to be with adults. This is a matter for you and your family and region. As a rule, my children address friends’ parents as we do but others may like more formality.
- Encourage them to speak for themselves. Young ones should learn to answer questions correctly and confidently. When a grown-up asks your child a question, and you happen to be close by, don’t just jump right in to speak on the child’s behalf. You can also encourage the child to answer questions. Teach them to pronounce their words clearly and look directly at the person speaking to them. One’s ability to answer questions influences how effective a communicator one is. You can help your child get better at this by asking questions yourself and seeing how they respond. It could be about school, their friends, or an experience they had. Throw in some advice when necessary to help them do better at this. As children get older, they should be able to express themselves better. This ability will come in handy when a child has school interviews or any activity that’ll requires their response to a list of questions. It makes them better communicators in general.
- Encourage them to initiate communication. While one should learn to respond when talked to, they should also comfortably initiate conversations when they feel like it – please encourage your child to say hello to adults in their lives. If they have questions, encourage them to speak with a teacher, doctor, or whoever. They can begin with a greeting before they proceed with whatever they intend to say or ask. Teach them they can be the first to initiate a conversation as well. As a parent or guardian, your children should feel okay about starting a conversation with you. They should also interact with other adults in the family, neighbors, and grown-ups around them. This act will build the child’s confidence, and they could walk up to any adult to ask a question or initiate a conversation.
- Teach them to maintain conversations. Have you ever heard your child say “I don’t know what to say”? A child needs to learn how to keep a conversation going with their peers and adults. After exchanging greetings have been exchanged, they can ask a “how are you doing today” or “how’s work and everything.” If you share the same interest, like art, music or sport, you can talk about those. Teaching your children how to maintain conversation helps them connect with those around them and get comfortable talking to adults. And they’ll learn from these conversations. This will come from having conversations with you.
- Show a good example. Yes, your children hear you give so much advice about different things, but they also observe your actions. Give them an example they can look up to and follow. Ask questions when you’re curious or confused about something, whether it’s your partner, friend, or the grocery store guy. Watching you, they can pick up on addressing people with appropriate titles, initiating, and maintaining conversations. You have a significant influence on your child as they grow up, so ensure you teach them the right things not just with your words but with your actions and lifestyle. Be a good example!
- Encourage them to relate with their peers more. Before children can get comfortable with the oldies, being comfortable among their peers is the best place to start. Encourage your children to communicate with their peers from school, church, football team, or wherever. You can organize play-dates, take them out to the park or give permission for sleepovers and hangouts. Children need to be around other children their age. Don’t worry about your child being quiet even when in the company of others; everyone doesn’t have a life-of-the-party personality. However, they must be able to communicate when the need arises. Teach your child that while it is okay to be reserved and not speak at any given opportunity, they should be comfortable voicing their opinions or thoughts about something. They should learn to make contributions when they want to and not hold back. Summarily, a child should first be comfortable speaking to their peers and playmates.
Final Thoughts on Teaching Your Child How to Talk to Adults
Children need to be comfortable with adults. They’re young, so they require guidance from grown-ups as they develop both physically and mentally. Some children may find conversing with adults or their peers easy, and others will do great with a little extra help. Observe your children and their behavioral patterns, and step in when you need to teach or make a quick correction. Raising children isn’t a straightforward journey, but it is rewarding. You’ll feel proud when they grow to become respectable and responsible adults.