How Do You Train Kids to Engage in Adult Conversations?

One of the things that we were asked, in our Facebook group, was how do you train kids to engage in adult conversation? Any practical tips, any ideas. And it is really important, you guys, if you want your kids to be educated, more apprentice-style, and a lot of people are now returning to a lot more of that kind of education, during this time, you want them to be around you. You want them to be learning things. They need to be equipped for how to engage with their parents, with other adults.

We spend so much time training kids in same-age groups, that a lot of times the only skills they’re really developing is the skill to relate to their direct peers. And we tend to call that socialization. But it’s actually, for a lot of kids, a lack of socialization because they really don’t know how to engage somebody who’s 20 years older or five years younger very well.

And so I want to give this dad some practical tips. So one of the things you can do is do some pregame talks. If you’re about to enter into a place where you think that they could learn a lot from someone, you can say, “Hey, make sure that you’re listening, that you’re asking questions.” You can kind of train them, as they’re alongside of you. Do you have any questions you want to ask me? What do you think of this? Engage in kind of an apprenticeship style kind of moment.

If you’re going out to do something that they may learn from, that’s something that you can figure out how to do. It’s also important to, when you do have people over, and that’s not happening a lot, at the moment, but one of the things that we would do when we would be hosting dinners, especially our Shabbat dinner, is that I’ll pause if we have a guest and say, “Hey, kids. In a few minutes, I’m going to ask you to ask our guest some questions.”

And then I have them kind of give a little bit of their background, their story. While they’re telling their story, I want my kids to be coming up with thoughtful questions that they can ask. And so we’ve had some amazing people at our Sabbath table, for dinner, and we’ve had some just really incredible conversations that really stemmed from the kids just asking great questions. And so, sometimes, you just train your kids to ask or direct them to ask.

We live in a culture where a lot of times we try to seize the floor and just give our opinion, and we don’t spend a lot of time listening to each other and asking questions. And so, oftentimes, when somebody is in the room, particularly if you invite grandparents over for a dinner, and you want them to tell stories, their ability to engage your children and to tell the family stories is going to be directly related to how much they feel honored, and that your kids are listening.

If your kids are making tons of noise, ignoring, and if they’re not being trained to sort of listen to an adult conversation and engage in an adult conversation. And obviously, at really young ages, that’s probably not realistic, but as your kids are getting a little bit older, it’s really important to like, okay, and talk about that. When grandpa or grandma talks, it’s really important for you to listen, and it’s really good to ask them questions. But yeah, Jeff, what are your thoughts on that?

Yeah, I would only add one more thing, and that’s basically what you already said, but with toddlers, what I’ve noticed that really helps, and I think this is just conducive for it, whether the adult or the toddler, is really play up the story time, you know what I mean? That’s what we do, is we kind of make it a story time moment, like, “Oh, someone’s going to tell a story. This is story time.” And just like when you’re at the library or in kindergarten, when it’s story time, kids sit down and they perk up. Right?

And so kind of putting it in that bucket, for the kids, I’ve noticed just psychologically makes them pay attention more than usual, and then be really ready and hungry to like, “Oh, what about this? And what about that? And what happened to the main character?” And stuff like that. So putting it in the storytelling bucket, with those kinds of languages and stuff, has really helped us and really trained our family.

Latest Episode

Listen To Our Latest Podcast



Start Building a
Multigenerational Family Team

Live events







Family scouting report