Have you noticed that every mother teaches her children how to talk? That’s why the language you grow up with is called your “mother-tongue“. The challenge of how to get your kids talking – from birth until they can speak fluently – is primarily a mother’s task. It’s quite a big thing to do!
One of my two boys took much longer to talk than the other, and it took a lot of discipline to keep reminding myself there was nothing wrong with him. It simply took longer than average. As a two-year-old he was prepared to say each word he learnt once, and once only. This was one of my challenges when teaching him how to talk.
On the other hand, my daughter was very different.
“Whatch-ya doin’?” was her simple question used whenever she found herself with a willing listener. Talking comes as naturally to her as water in a babbling in a brook. Right from the very start, she could talk. A lot.
So clearly, it’s the quieter ones that require some special strategies by mothers to get their kids talking. And that’s what this blog post is about.
Different Personality Types
My daughter’s well-used question (Whatch-ya-doing?) helped her make conversation with friends, young and old. It usually got people started with a story about their latest activities. She would then launch forth into her own explanation of how her day. Yes, she really was like a bubbling brook.
The thing was, she was barely two years old!
When she grew up to be a school girl, I had no trouble finding out about her day. Every afternoon I got the full story: How the teacher said this; her girlfriend said that; or news of someone in big trouble today.
Now an adult, our daughter is as outgoing and extroverted as they come. She is always ready to be someone’s friend or help someone out. In fact while she has brilliant success in retail, she’d say her skill isn’t selling. What she does really well is make friends. Her brook still bubbles!
Keep reading because there is a great resource for you to grab further down 🙂
One Time Only
On the other hand, my son is an introvert. One day as we sat in the car, car waiting at a level crossing, 1-Word Wonder Boy said, “Train!”
At breakfast one morning, he said, “Cheese!” It was one of his favorite foods. Truly, a 1-Word Wonder Boy.
Maybe, his brain reasoned, he could say each word, so why say it again? Whatever the reason, he communicates more like a slow-running river: quiet and steady. Well past his third birthday, he began to talk properly – finally! Suddenly he spoke complete sentences.
As a school boy, trying to talk to him each day was an interesting challenge. Our afternoon walks home, took us through a lovely leafy park, and as we ambled along, it was easy to get newsy items from my girls. But grunts and nods were often all I could gather from the two boys as they ran wild and free down the hill. Sometimes it was necessary to quieten the girls, so I could catch the boys’ snatches of news.
Get Your Kids Talking: Introverts and Extroverts
Interestingly, my 1-Word Wonder Boy is as ready as his sister to be friendly. In fact, the kindergarten teacher used to call him “everybody’s friend”. And, while he doesn’t seek the limelight, he is happy to speak to large groups. In fact, he surprised everyone when he gave an excellent, engaging and funny Best Man’s Speech at his friend’s wedding. So, he’s quiet, and likes to have his own space, but still very capable of communicating well.
As an introvert, my son is energized by being on his own. But, as an extrovert, my daughter is energized by being with others. It’s good for mothers to know these personality types, because they require very different strategies when it comes to how to get your kids talking.
Are there Two Extremes in Your Family?
If you think about your siblings in your own family you will know each child is very different. (If you are an only child, you will have noticed this in other families as well.) When my children were young, I learned to tailor my communication depending on the child. I threw away cookie-cutter thinking and related to them as individuals. You can find out more about that concept by watching Talk 6 of Top Ten Life-Changing Motherhood Talks that I collected for you.
My children knew there was one set of basic rules for discipline and expectations for everyone. But it was also clear each child was very different. I responded to them differently, depending on who I was talking with, and what we were talking about.
However, the problem was, trying to work that out was not always easy. Such as the big after-school challenge with my boys. Because how do you get someone to tell you what’s going on in their lives when you only get one-word replies?
To be honest, I didn’t ever get very good at this. Something about running around with five children makes it difficult to think through strategies very well. Most likely, my mother could have taught me a thing or two here, but that was not possible. So that’s why I am letting you know. Maybe you too are running around too fast to think clearly about this!
After a while I realized it wasn’t helpful to ask questions needing only one-word answers. Although to be honest, they do pop out very easily.
Questions such as:
- “Did you have a good day?”
“YES”, came the response.
- “You must be feeling pretty tired now.”
“NO,” he’d say.
I realize now that was a terrible one, because it isn’t even a question!
- “Did Charlie play with you at lunchtime?”
Silly me, you would think I would have worked out who his friends were by then.
After a while, I learnt to ask “W-Questions”
To successfully get your kids talking, you need to ask “W-questions”. That’s questions which either start with, or have, W in them – What, Where, Why, Who, How.
So similar to above, using W-Questions . . .
- “What sort of day did you have?”
“GOOD”, was his answer.
Well, I suppose that’s better than Yes or No.
- “How are you feeling?”
“Okay. I’m hungry!”
I mean, what was I expecting him to say?
- “What did you do at lunchtime?”
“Played with Charlie. We got a ball out of the storeroom, and kicked it around the playground.” Well, that was a bit better, but actually, I probably already knew that’s what he would do.
These questions were still not very powerful, and it usually took a lot of coaxing to get much info out of them.
But I’ve made a discovery. Have a look at these recent finds, below!
Here are questions which reveal the “chat” in chatterbox. Or perhaps, the “babble” in brook 😉
Some great questions to help get your kids talking:
- “What problem did you solve today?” (I love this one!)
- “What is the funniest thing that happened to you today?”
- “What part of your day do you wish could have lasted longer?”
- “Which of your friends makes you act your best?”
So let’s get those kids (or perhaps adults) talking! I’ve developed a list of 88 BEST QUESTIONS to ask your kids and get conversations rocking.
DOWNLOAD HERE >>>
But thinking about it now, maybe I should have taken more careful note of my two-year-old daughter. Because perhaps the best, and most simple, W-question to teach One-Word Wonders is: “Whatch-ya-doin?”
How do you get your kids talking? Do you have some great questions that you ask? I’d love to know!