Conversations with Older people

It doesn’t matter how old you are, we can all feel a bit awkward when talking to our grandparents, older relatives or friends of our parents, because the generation gap means we have nothing in common. It’s especially challenging when our kids become mute at family gatherings despite the efforts of well meaning Aunts and Uncles to get them talking. Here’s a few tips for children to get the conversation flowing.

1- When someone asks them a question, they should ask a question back, rather than just giving a one word answer.

eg: Nana – “How are you?”

Child/teen “Good thanks, how are you Nana?”

2- Try to think of additional questions where the other person can’t give a one-word answer.

Instead of, “How are you?” try: “What have you been up to this week? What did you do on your holiday? Have you been winning at Bridge/Golf/Tennis etc? Do you have any holidays planned? Have you been making anything special in the kitchen? What have you been doing during lockdown? What have you been watching on TV/Netflix/Foxtel?

3-Prepare some answers in advance to common questions . Older people always ask kids about school, so think about what’s been going on and prepare three things to talk about, such as academic tests, sporting events, music concerts, play overs or special activities.

4-If kids are meeting someone new or seeing someone they haven’t seen for a while, give them a bit of background information so they’ll have something to discuss.

5-Get kids to ask older people about ‘the olden days,’ like: “What sports did you play when you were my age? Did you have sleepover with your friends? Did you have a part time job in school? Were you allowed to watch TV every day? Did you own a camera? What was your first job? Did you like school? Did you get a lot of homework?

It shows that kids are interested in the people around them and helps them develop valuable interpersonal skills.

Pepita Bulloch
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