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Educational games

Waiting his turn to talk

Listening to others and waiting for your turn to talk, you can learn! Being able to listen without cutting off the speaker’s speech is not only a social skill that is essential to maintaining good relationships with others, but it is also a necessity for learning, especially at school.

Why is it difficult to wait for your turn to speak?

Children are often eager to share their adventures, so they don’t hesitate to interrupt the speaker or intervene in an adult conversation. They’re in the moment and they have trouble waiting.

Very early on, toddlers can intuitively understand that there is an alternation between the speaker and the listener. So they know that they have to wait their turn to express themselves, but they still have difficulty respecting this rule. Respecting the rhythm of a conversation is a long apprenticeship that can still be difficult at 5 years old.

The difficulty can be explained in large part by the fact that toddlers cannot easily put themselves in another person‘s shoes. This difficulty is large because toddlers can’t easily put themselves in someone else’s shoes, so they don’t necessarily understand the dissatisfaction they cause by cutting off speech. Occasionally, they also get into an adult conversation without understanding the value of the discussion.

How do you react when he interrupts you?

If you are talking to someone and your child tries to interrupt your conversation, you can tell them to wait or indicate this by making the “1-minute” gesture with your index finger. Then look carefully at the person speaking and ignore your child’s signs of impatience.

When the person has finished speaking, you can turn to your child and say, “Now I’m looking at you and listening to you. Now it’s your turn to talk. “Listening is accompanied by looking. By taking the time to listen and showing your interest with encouraging words or gestures (“Oh, yeah? What did you do?”) to everyone, including your child, you provide a model of a good conversation partner.

If your child interrupts often and can understand simple explanations, take a moment to tell him or her that everyone has the right to take turns and that no one likes to be interrupted.

Strategies to help the child wait his turn to speak

  • Take advantage of gatherings (e.g., parties, family reunions, games between neighbors) to clearly draw your child’s attention to the turns to speak. For example, say, “I’m going to take a moment to talk with your aunt. Then I’ll have time to listen to you. »
  • Ask each family member to take turns talking about their day during the meal. Encourage your child to respect each person’s turn so that he or she understands the behavior.

Learn turns before turns!
Even before the age of 1 year, children learn to take turns: they learn to take turns making “cuckoo clocks” or swapping a ball, for example. These simple games prepare them to better understand the basics of conversation.

Things to remember

  • Children understand early on that the conversation is alternating, but they may have difficulty respecting the turns of speech until at least 5 years of age.
  • When a child interrupts a conversation, asking them to wait shows them not to interrupt.
  • Family gatherings and meals are good opportunities to emphasize the importance of respecting each person’s turn to speak.

Resources and References

  • BERGERON-GAUDIN, Marie-Ève. I’m learning to speak: language development from 0 to 5 years old. Montreal, Éditions du CHU Sainte-Justine, 2014, 180 p.
  • BOUCHARD, Caroline and others. Le développement global de l’enfant de 0 à 5 ans en contextes éducatifs. Québec, Presses de l’Université du Québec, 2008, 486 p.
  • PEPPER, Jan and Elaine WEITZMAN. Parler, un jeu à deux: un guide pratique pour les parents d’enfants présentant des retards dans l’acquisition du langage. Toronto: The Hanen Program, 2004, 170 p.

For children:

  • KHALIL, Michelle et al. Pin-pon, pin-pon, wait! Québec, Les Éditions Passe-Temps, 2014, 13 p.