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To not know what to say to a 3 year old?

(24 Posts)
Grapejuiceforgrownups Wed 25-May-16 22:02:10

Going on holiday for a week with friends and their DD who is just turned three. We have a DD too but she is only one. Mentioned to friends that I find it awkward to try to make small talk with a 3 year old and they all thought this was hilarious. I'm sure in two years time I'll be a conversational wizard with pre schoolers but I don't understand how people know how to talk to small children when they have no experience with that age group! So a) it is unreasonable that I have no idea how to converse with a 3 year old child? And b) what should I talk to her about?! Btw I'm not socially imcompetent, I work with children with severe mental health issues, but I seem to find it easier to talk to 15 year olds about self harm than to talk to a 3 year old about Peppa Pig.

multivac Wed 25-May-16 22:04:44

Three-year-olds don't do 'small talk'. It's all Big Talk. Bear that in mind, follow her lead, and you'll be fine.

Pollyputhtekettleon Wed 25-May-16 22:05:05

Just talk about poo. That's my 3 yr olds favourite topic right now. Or if you want to avoid parents getting mad at you, just spend time with the girl pretending you had tripped and fall down. Or is that just a 3yr old boy thing?

EatShitDerek Wed 25-May-16 22:06:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Mrsfancyfanjango Wed 25-May-16 22:08:05

Don't worry the 3 year old will probably supply most of the conversation!

WhyCantIuseTheNameIWant Wed 25-May-16 22:08:10

Borrow mine for a day. Or even an hour.
They never shut up! Not even to sneeze or break wind...

Wind is a good topic. Point things out, as you would for your 1 year old. But give a bit more detail.

You will spend more time listening than talking.

Imfinehowareyou Wed 25-May-16 22:09:25

Just ask them questions. My DD2 is three and I ask her what she had for a snack at preschool, who her friends are, what she likes to watch on tv. Offer to read a book and you will be the most popular person ever! Saying things wrong on purpose also goes down well eg. I like your red shoes "but they're blaaaack" Can I eat your banana? "That's not a banana, it's my teddy". Are you driving us to the restaurant? "I can't drive, Silly". Three year olds do not need any clever humour or interesting topics. I used to feel massively awkward talking to young children before I had DC (and I was a teacher!) but spend all day yacking on to mine now.

FlouncyMcFlounceFace Wed 25-May-16 22:09:40

I find that conversation flows best with children and adults alike, if I don't try to talk about things i don't understand.

So if Peppa Pig isn't something you know lots about then why not talk about things you are comfortable talking about?

Your one year old will probably be a massive source of interest to a three year old and many children like joining in with helping younger ones - makes them feel all grown up.

CutYourHairAndGetAJob Wed 25-May-16 22:10:32

I have a three year old. The easiest thing is to just do things with her, and talk about what you are doing, rather than try to start A Conversation. So you could read a book, play with her toys with her, etc.

If she's anything like mine, once you get her started talking, she won't stop.

Ffion3107 Wed 25-May-16 22:10:35

Of course you're not being unreasonable! I bet they will have forgotten what to say to a one year old by now!
If you're gonna be alone with the three year old, just offer her snacks grin
Haha, seriously though, I wouldn't know either, my DD's 2!
Just go with the flow, don't worry about it!

Unicorn1981 Wed 25-May-16 22:13:41

Ha ha the things in this thread are funny. My dd just chats away telling anyone she meets she has 'a cat called Emmy and she's black and white'. 'Its violets birthday today' (who's violet you'll be thinking) That sort of thing. I can have the funniest conversations with her and her friends. You'll be fine.

Well ds is 4 but we've been having the same conversations for over a year so, things he'd like to talk about;
Who's your favourite superhero?
Why you don't have a willy hmm?
Biscuits
If Daddy is a poo face
Anything poo, wee or willy related

Also, prat falling, silly jokes, pulling faces. Why don't you take mine and they can talk at each other?

DocMcFanjo Wed 25-May-16 22:18:28

I find they like observational talk. Commenting on what they are doing, small details, stream of commentary, like "ah you're using the red pen for this bit", or "oh, some banana fell on the floor, uh-oh, should we pick it up?", "you are very good at running aren't you? I'm not as good at running as you are. My shoes aren't as good.", "oh Daddy Pig fell! Silly Daddy Pig ha ha ha! He always falls doesn't he? But he's very nice (nod nod)", "oh my goodness, you have underpants on your head! You monkey, what are you doing with underpants on your head?!"

Just pretend whatever they are doing or saying is quite sensible and fascinating and whatever they are giggling at is indeed genuinely hilarious and in no way made less hilarious by having whatever it is described again after.

If in doubt, describe what they are doing and pick out certain details to analyse or complement. They like being treated as beacons of sense and brilliance with whom you love to spend time chatting.

FrayedHem Wed 25-May-16 22:21:02

I find commentary with a splattering of absurdity works better than questions if they are a little on the shy-side.

And always, always politely accept imaginary cups of tea. When my PFB was about 3 he offered DH's friend and aforementioned cup and said friend replied with "no thanks mate I'm tired." I'm not ashamed to admit I let out an audible tut.

TickledOnion Wed 25-May-16 22:22:38

Ask specific questions rather than general ones. So ask "do you like colouring?" rather than "what do you like doing?"
And get silly things wrong on purpose.
Read her a book and ask her to point out things in the pictures.

I struggle with any kids older than my own DCs. I'm particularly crap with teenagers.

sweatyfarce Wed 25-May-16 22:24:11

Doc nailed it

Yika Wed 25-May-16 22:35:53

Um.. you don't actually have to chat. You can just hang around each other in a friendly manner.

TheNIghtManagersWife Wed 25-May-16 22:37:00

This thread makes me want to wake up my 3 year old and play. They are so damn delicious at this age!

I agree with everyone else - just ask them lots of questions pointing out the obvious, and say things wrong on purpose. They will love you for it.

JeffFromTheDailyMail Wed 25-May-16 22:37:04

frayed shock he was too tired? For imaginary tea? No other gift in life should be more gratefully received, the tosser

LaContessaDiPlump Wed 25-May-16 22:39:46

I find my 3yo likes it when I point things out and say what they do (like trees, slugs, snails etc). You can also ask them what they're up to and follow their lead in the conversation.

BlueberrySky Wed 25-May-16 22:40:57

I do not remember anyone expecting me to engage with their 3 year old. They do not really do conversation, smiling and answering their questions/babble is all you need to do at that age.

Offer to read them a story or sing a nursery rhyme if you want to engage with them.

JeffreySadsacIsUnwell Wed 25-May-16 22:45:15

If you get offered imaginary tea, the rule is to spill it down yourself, flap your arms about, squeal, and ask for an imaginary cloth. Or take it, taste it, screw up your face and complain they left out the sugar. 3yo will be only too delighted to spoon in 10 spoonfuls of imaginary sugar...

The biggest problem with 3yos is that they have no volume control.

Buddahbelly Wed 25-May-16 22:46:22

So glad to hear my 3 year old seems to be relatively normal grin. I thought his obsession with the word poo was a worrying topic that would require years of counselling, but seems not.

Just say the word poo, pull a funny face or get her name wrong and insist her name is Captain Stinker may just be funny to my child she will love you for it.

FrayedHem Wed 25-May-16 22:48:51

Jeff I'm afraid not only is that quote verbatim, my PFB was very shy and speech-delayed (can't remember if this was pre or post his ASD dx) which made it all the more tut-worthy. Said friend was a regular visitor so knew all that.

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