By the time your child is between three and four she should have enough command of her mother tongue to express her thoughts. Help her practise the all-important two-way exchange that makes for real conversation and communication between people.

Talking with a child should not just be a question and answer affair. It should engage her in exchanges that allow her to express her thoughts and feelings. Tell her what you are thinking; for instance if you are puzzled and wondering what dress to wear, you could say, I really cant make up my mind whether to wear the blue or red dress, the red one is pretty but has short sleeves and the weather looks like rain. What do you think I should do?

In this way the child is made to consider alternatives and offer suggestions. You should take her answers seriously and give them due consideration. Discuss her opinions on the matter. She may suggest you wear something over the dress or take an umbrella. Praise her for her good ideas. Showing her you value her opinion will help her react in a responsible way. It also helps her learn to organise her thoughts and present them in a logical fashion. If she comes up with an impractical solution or comment, dont laugh at her, treat it seriously and explain why it will not work.

When initiating a conversation dont just ask her a question with a single yes or no answer. Make it open-ended like, Are there any other toys you like playing with besides the doll youre playing with now?

Help her articulate her fears and anxieties as well as her pleasure. If she is apprehensive or angry dont just ask what is wrong. It is hard for her to put it into words especially if she is not quite sure herself what it is that she is really afraid of. Try and guess what the problem could be and ask her if you are right; it will

help get her thoughts, frustrations and fears to the surface where you have a better chance of helping her.

Remember that the art of conversation is complex and vital in human relations. Help her learn it while she is young and you will be doing a great deal towards helping her relate to people effectively.


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