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How to have conversations

(82 Posts)
joyjoy Mon 06-Mar-17 16:48:29

I am a first time poster who would love some opinions or advice. The oldest of my four grandchildren is a bright little girl of 9. She will chat to me on the phone about her day and about anything and nothing with her friends for hours, but I (and her parents) have realised that making proper conversation for example at the dinner table is something she struggles with. I would love ideas on how we can all help with this so she can join in with whatever everyone is chatting about or initiate her own conversations without just tuning out and getting bored

Ana Mon 06-Mar-17 16:57:23

She's a bit young to be having conversations at the dinner table! I'm assuming she'll answer any questions directed to her with brief answers? Sounds pretty normal to me for a 9 year old...

kittylester Mon 06-Mar-17 17:00:01

I agree, Ana.

Luckygirl Mon 06-Mar-17 17:15:52

At the age of 9!!?? - dream on, as they say! Please let this child be a child and do not insist that she engages in small talk!

I should think your dinner table conversation is ultimately boring for her and tuning out is an act of self-preservation! grin

I fear this may be a wind-up.

joyjoy Mon 06-Mar-17 17:18:04

We weren't thinking world politics or anything like that - just how to interact with family chit chat without tuning out and looking bored. Agree she is young to be having major conversations but we want to encourage her to take an interest in what other people (that she is close to) are talking about, to respond with more than a word or two when asked questions and perhaps to even ask questions of her own. As I say, nothing heavy but when a cousin she is close to is sittng next to her and talking excitedly about a trip she's just been on to somewhere my GD has been to, we feel she should at least be part of the conversation (not steering it or anything) and not just separating herself from it. I suppose it would be laying foundations for when she is older but she is certainly old enough to join in with chat about things that interest or involve her

rosesarered Mon 06-Mar-17 17:19:07

When our children were young we did talk around the dinner table, even at 9 or younger, but we were led by what the children wanted to say, so it was probably school or friend or tv related stuff.I remember a lot of laughing going on and the odd 'scrap' hmm

joyjoy Mon 06-Mar-17 17:20:04

Otherwise we worry that the whole tuning out thing will become habit. I should add that I've had meals with other (related) children of this age recently and they have been far more interested and engaged. She is quite shy but we are talking about family that she has known forever so I suppose I am asking how to stimulate interest in what others are saying more than anything else

rosesarered Mon 06-Mar-17 17:20:51

There is always one child that is quieter than the others joyjoy and maybe this is the
Case here?

Riverwalk Mon 06-Mar-17 17:22:28

What did you do at school today?


How lovely!

rosesarered Mon 06-Mar-17 17:22:53

Is she a middle child?They often feel slightly excluded, our DD was like this,and the older DD more dominating and the youngest ( a boy) full of fun and jokes and got himself noticed.

joyjoy Mon 06-Mar-17 17:23:23

yes that is a good point and in a big group this wouldn't be unexpected - I am thinking more of smaller gatherings such as me, her and her parents - she can be perfectly loud and bouncy when she wants but how to engage her in chat. It's getting to the stage where she switches off regardless (and we are often talking about things that interest or involve her) and we don't want this to become a default habit

Luckygirl Mon 06-Mar-17 17:23:49

I do find it very hard indeed to believe that the OP is being serious.

Lona Mon 06-Mar-17 17:25:00

Leave her alone, she's just being herself. We don't all want to join in, or be like everyone else. ☺

rosesarered Mon 06-Mar-17 17:25:24

My DGS (admittedly, has autism)
Me.."what did you have for school lunch today."
Me..."yes, but what kind of food."
Him.."edible food!"

joyjoy Mon 06-Mar-17 17:26:36

rosearered no she is an only child - has lots of friends and is used to being in the company of adults too.

riverwalk - yes we ask these questions and they get the usual what I think are fairly typical answers (nothing, I can't remember or a stream of chat if there was something specific) On a one on one level it is fine but her parents get frustrated with her tuning out of anything else and I can see the irony of this because it is far more boring to sit at a table when you have lost track of a conversation than when you are engaged in it

Ana Mon 06-Mar-17 17:27:56

She's a little girl. Let her develop at her own pace! The more pressure you put on her to 'perform' the more tuned-out she'll become...hmm

joyjoy Mon 06-Mar-17 17:29:28

Oh dear this was a totally genuine question. her parents (and I when I am there) just want her to feel involved in the chat rather than having any in depth conversations about anything heavy. I thought it was reasonable to expect a child of this age to be able to join in when they are being included at an appropriate level. It's not with a lot of strangers after all. Surely it is fair enough to want to help a child engage (even at a tiny level) rather than tune out?

rosesarered Mon 06-Mar-17 17:29:46

Could she have hearing problems?I did as a child, and was fine with a one to one chat but never heard anything properly when a group were laughing and chatting.Am still not good and have to concentrate hard in a group.

joyjoy Mon 06-Mar-17 17:30:35

No pressure to perform Ana - just to be included and know that she is included

rosesarered Mon 06-Mar-17 17:30:44

It's just a thought.

rosesarered Mon 06-Mar-17 17:32:38

The adults at the table will have to make sure that she is involved by including her in a few questions, she may feel dominated by other children -as she is an only child?

joyjoy Mon 06-Mar-17 17:33:13

rosesarered no hearing problems
my guess is that it is a confidence thing so I would like to help if we can. No one is expecting her to "perform" or to do or be anything other than what she is but if we can help her have the confidence to join in then surely this is a good thing? She isn't the most confident child generally

joyjoy Mon 06-Mar-17 17:35:17

rosesarered when she is with a group of other children she is absolutely fine (ie they all get on like a house on fire)

and we do include her of course, but feel she does need to show some interest in what others are saying if it is a conversation that is relevant to her and including her (again - nothing remotely heavy)

rosesarered Mon 06-Mar-17 17:38:04

Sounds strange doesn't it? Although I wouldn't worry about it at this stage, just go on trying.

joyjoy Mon 06-Mar-17 17:40:53

Thank you rosesarered - that is reassuring. It's been a long time since my own DC were that age