Win a Winner!
Writers & Photographers
Berlitz Summer Camp
by Tony Malinda
Q: My fourth-grade son is a talker! He chats away on any subject you please, but doesn’t seem to notice his listeners getting bored with his conversation. How do we shape his social skills without embarrassing him?
Tony Malinda, M.A., MFT, answers …
What a great gift to have an expressive and precocious little man in your life. It can be a pleasure listening to a kid’s take on a variety of subjects. However, it can also get annoying, which seems to be the case with you guys. There are certain social skills that he (we all) need to learn that will serve him well both in school and at home. Nobody likes a “know-it-all” and we don’t appreciate people who do not listen.
In order not to embarrass your son, sit down with him for a private chat. Help him understand how others may feel when he talks too much. Help him to pick up on social cues such as facial expressions and body language. Teach him the importance of becoming a good listener. These days it seems that people of all ages have lost track of that. When listening we shut down (not just put down) all electronics and actually look at the person talking, and then we show through facial expressions and sounds that we are interested in what they are saying.
You can role play some familiar scenarios with your son so he can begin to practice what he is learning.
It might be extremely challenging for him to know when he has said enough, so you and he should agree on a certain hand gesture or facial expression that you can use to communicate to him when it is time to become a listener.
Power to the parents!
Tony Malinda, M.A., M.F.T. has been a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist for nearly 20 years. He is a counselor at the Westview school in West Los Angeles, has a private practice specializing in adolescents and parenting, and has two kids.
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