Does your child feel Tongue Tied?

Published 01 June 2022 at 18:01

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Does your child feel Tongue Tied?

As a 12-year-old, I was once visiting my grandparents in an overcrowded bus accompanied by a guardian. A nice lady, seeing my discomfort, gave me a part of her own seat. In the no-mobile phone era, it was common for strangers to converse with each other. The nice lady asked me, ‘where are you going?’ 

What was a general conversational question for her, was a trick question for my tween brain. 

Should I talk to a stranger?

How many details am I supposed to reveal?

Should I tell her the name of the stop I need to get off at?

Should I tell her who I am going to meet?

My confused state of silence was judged as a misdemeanour. The fellow passengers were quite quick in passing a verdict on the whole generation as being insolent!

But the questions in my head were quite genuine!

Each time a teen coaching client narrates their social conversational dilemmas to me, I can’t help but remember my own innumerable dilemmas. 

Growing up in nuclear families with busy schedules, rushing from one class to another can compromise their conversational skills. 

Children express this lack of skills in different ways:

  • Unwillingness to go to social gatherings
  • Hiding behind their devices or books.
  • Giving monosyllabic/short answers when asked questions 

Image Credit: iStock

To adults, it can come off as insolent and arrogant behaviour. For a parent, it can be an added pressure because it questions their parenting style. 

Before labelling it as a behavioural issue and questioning your own parenting style, try guiding them on improving their communication skills. There are a lot of ways to go about this. I share with you, A way to go about this:

1. Set the stage: Identify the area they need to develop communication skills in: Some areas can be:

  • Small talk with acquaintances, strangers, extended family etc.
  • Voicing their opinion in group setting
  • Standing up for themselves in conflict situations
  • Apologising genuinely when they have done something wrong

2. Set the tone: Once the area has been identified, depending on their age, give them skills to address the area. In the case of older children, asking them to come up with ideas to address the situation is more effective than spoon-feeding them. 

With younger children, give them something tangible to work with. For example, if small talk is their area for improvement, give them ideas on things they can easily talk about – hobbies, school, Shows, friends.

3. Show time: Once the above 2 have been identified and instilled, before a situation for practicing arises, prepare them for it. Revisit the situation and revise the skills. 

For example: If you are planning to visit your extended family this summer, before your trip, tell your child what to expect and revisit with them what all they can do to make a conversation. 

After the event check with them, what worked, what did not work, and what could be improved. 

Image Credit: iStock

Good Communication skills are one of the most sought-after leadership qualities. A good communicator can express their ideas and feelings, influence people and build healthy relationships. As they say, catch them young. These skills get better with age and practice, so the sooner they start, the better their conversational skills will be.

About the Author:

Shalini Bindal, is a Professional Coach certified by the International Coaching Federation. Through her coaching sessions, she leads her clients from feeling Stuck to being Empowered. She empowers teenagers and tweens with group workshops on Communication Skills, Emotional Intelligence and Career Coaching.  

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