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Do you need to teach children the rules of conversation?

(9 Posts)
TheScientician Thu 10-Jul-14 10:39:16

DS is 4.5, he will interrupt conversations mid-sentence, often on a completely different topic. He will also ignore questions or conversations he isn't interested in, then again start a different topic. It isn't all the time, but rather when he chooses to. I try to stop him sometimes and explain about when someone is talking, ask him to wait etc...
Is this just a typical 4yo behaviour?

IWillOnlyEatBeans Thu 10-Jul-14 10:58:52

We have had to teach DS1 (4.5) not to interrupt when others are talking. He does forget though. He often changes the subject quite abruptly too, which we then tend to laugh about. An example from yesterday:

DS: We are learning to sing new songs at school, one is about sunshine and it makes me feel sad.
Me: Ahh, why?
DS: When Megatron came to earth he crashed into the ice and got frozen!
Me: The song is about Megatron?!
DS: Which song?


I think it's probably quite typical. We do encourage him to be polite and to converse 'properly' - answering questions with more than one-word answers, not just automatically saying 'I don't know' when a response requires some thought, not interrupting. He is getting a bit better but it's still very hit and miss!

dotty2 Thu 10-Jul-14 11:06:45

I think, as with lots of things, they mostly learn by you modelling good practice, but with a bit of additional guidance. At 4, this is probably mostly teaching not to interrupt, and other stuff when they're older. I have, for example, been teaching DD1 (who's 9) about asking people questions about themselves and then listening to and picking up on their answers. I do have a bee in my bonnet about this, though, because I know so many adults who seem incapable of doing that!

PeterParkerSays Thu 10-Jul-14 11:11:06

Fairly typical I think. Just keep practising at home, particularly over meals so he can see the rest of the family modelling conversation with pauses and people waiting for others to finish before they speak.

MrsCakesPremonition Thu 10-Jul-14 11:13:07

It's pretty typical. I agree that practise and modelling are the ways to help him understand how conversations work.
Think carefully about the sorts of conversations you have with him. Do you listen to his points and reply to them, or do you assume that he is waffling on about Thomas/Transformers/Dinosaurs again, let your mind drift and then interrupt with him with whatever is important to you (time to tidy up/have tea/go in the garden).

Muskey Thu 10-Jul-14 11:23:18

Only recently have I had to explain to dd(10) how conversations actually work eg watching people and waiting for a pause in the flow of conversation and listening etc etc. So yes I do think you need to teach children how to converse and like everything else they need to practise this skill

TheScientician Thu 10-Jul-14 13:45:34

Thanks everyone. Thinking about it more he seems to do it with one particular person who asks a lot of questions, which he can be a bit sensitive about. We will definitely try to work on the modelling though.

BlueChampagne Thu 10-Jul-14 13:54:42

Essentially it's taking turns, so just remind him whose turn it is to speak, and that people should be allowed to finish what they're saying (especially Mum!). Still working on it here too.

dotty2 Fri 11-Jul-14 09:16:02

MrsCakes makes a good point - I think I'm sometimes guilty of expecting them to stop talking and listen to me, but not wanting them to interrupt me. Likewise, not looking up straight away from that email I'm typing when they want to talk to me, but expecting them to look up straight away from their game/book/TV programme when I want to talk to them. So modelling good behaviour may be harder than I think!

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