Talking to a Four-year Old: The Gargantuan Feat (not really)

Talking to a kid can sometimes be a daunting task. Here are some ways in order to keep the conversation engaging and interesting for both parties.

Give them your full attention

Just like everyone else, a child wants people to listen to him when he talks. It can be discouraging if your mind is somewhere else when he tries to talk to you.

Use eye contact, gestures such as nodding and smiling, and affirmations like “hmm” and “huh” to indicate that you’re listening.

Follow the child’s pace

Children absorb information slower and may be less familiar with common communication patterns. It is important to consider this so as to not confuse them and make them disinterested.

Avoid over-talking or piling a lot of information at once. Keep the conversation to his or her level. Be patient and explain or narrate something with simple words and sentences.

Be observant on how much the child knows as well. Inside jokes with unknown context won’t work with them. Take the context to something like their cartoons instead.

Ask them about themselves

Children want to talk about the many occurrences in their lives. Ask them about these sorts of topics and they’ll feel compelled to answer.

Possible topics include: what are they drawing, what that character on T.V. is doing, what game he is playing on his phone, how was writing class today, etc.

Empower them

A four-year old doesn’t need baby-talk or exaggeratedly slow speech to understand. You can talk to them normally.

Kids like to feel different from all the other kids around them and be treated like the adults. More specifically, they want to be acknowledged and respected.

Be polite and not patronizing. Take them seriously when they talk about something. Treat them like a close friend or confidant.

In the same vein, give them power over little things. An example is letting them choose what brand of chocolate to buy on a shopping trip.

Trivial choices such as these make them feel included and responsible. It gives them a sense of pride and accomplishment that they can use to build self-confidence.

Gently but firmly

This applies more for serious matters such as reprimanding wrongdoing or leaving them at preschool on the first day.

No one wants to make their child suffer, but if it’s for the sake of bettering them, it should be done “gently but firmly.”

There is no need for shouting or yelling. Say what is needed to be said clearly, and make sure he or she understands the full meaning behind your words.

Make it clear that you only want the best for him or her, and punishment or grave news serve as experiences for their betterment.

While it seems like you’re talking to another being entirely, in the end they’re just the same people as us, only younger. Keep that in mind.

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