Is Your Child Able to Talk About a Topic in Social Situations?

Using appropriate language in social situations is key to successful communication and the development of friendships; yet, this may be challenging for many young children and adolescents. We, as parents and teachers, often observe behaviors that we peceive as being “off” but are not sure why. One area that is often a problem for children is being able to have a discussion with someone about a specific topic. This includes introducing a topic and giving a frame of reference, maintaining that topic with appropriate questions and comments, signalling when you are changing the topic and ending the topic appropriately. If these untaught rules are not followed when having a discussion with someone, the interaction may become awkward and uncomfortable. We can teach these skills to some children by bringing it to their attention. You may try writing down the specific skill that the child is not using and give examples of how it would sound in a conversation using that skill. Role-play different social situations with the child so he or she may practice using and getting comfortable with that skill. It is also helpful if you intentionally make errors in topic introduction and maintenance to help the child become aware of and recognize the behaviors you are trying to improve. Some children, however, may have difficulty due to an underlying language problem that makes it difficult for them to understand what it is they need to do when having a discussion with another person. If you recognize these kinds of social language behaviors in children you know, it may be beneficial to contact a apeech and language therapist to further explore the difficulties they are having.

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