Here’s a trick for starting interaction with little children to whom you’ve just been introduced. Resist making direct eye contact. Sit down on the floor a short distance away and start to be busy with an activity, within their line of sight. Play intently with one of the child’s toys, have a pretend conversation with a teddy or tussle a ball in the jaws of a friendly dog. Most children will start to be intrigued. Carry on and give the child an occasional smile. Before long, even the shyest child will want to join in. The opportunity to talk about what you’re doing, or their favourite thing, will soon follow.
Older children can be coaxed into conversation by focusing on what they like – best TV programmes, favoured apps, closest friends, sports followed, favourite foods and pets are all good bets.
Young teens can feel shy around older teenagers. You may recall feeling overshadowed by the seeming glamour and confidence of those further up the developmental chain. If you are now in this position, a genuine interest in them and their opinions can make them shine. Develop a rapport with them by drawing them out to talk about their passions.
Older teenagers tend to be easier to talk with and there is plenty to talk about: their plans for college, university, work experience and travel. Some may already be working or be on an apprentice scheme. Conversation gambits can therefore be naturally more varied.
HOW TO CONVERSE WITH A YOUNGER PERSON Photo Gallery
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