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Social Conversation Skills to Teach Your Kids

Conversation Skills During the Holiday Season

Conversations are the foundation for building friendships and relationships and are the key to social success. Here are a few social communication strategies to teach your kids how to start and maintain their their holiday conversations. 


With the holiday season just around the corner, people are eager to connect and spend time with friends and family. Whether it be a dinner with immediate family or a virtual chat or game night with extended family and friends, it is important to stay in contact and catch up with our loved ones. The social communication strategies below can be used with your children to keep their holiday conversations flowing in a connected, meaningful way. 

1.     Conversation Stoplight

If you come from a large family or have a chatty group of friends, you know how difficult it can be to stop yourself from talking over someone during conversation, or to indicate to someone else that it’s your turn to speak. Use of the Conversation Stoplight is a great way to manage conversation turn-taking at a dinner with immediate family, or during a zoom call with extended family and friends. If you have access to a printer, hop on Google and search for red, green and yellow circle cut-outs. If not, don’t worry. Grab a piece of paper and some markers. Draw three circles and cut them out. Your child can help you with this simple craft by coloring in one circle red, one green, and one yellow. Once you have your colored circles you are good to go! Here’s how conversation stoplight works:

  • Red Light: if you have the conversation “red light”, it means that your voice is off, and your ears are listening to the person talking. The person talking has the conversation green light at this time. When your child has the conversation red light, they can hold up their red circle or put their finger on it.
  • Green Light: if you have the conversation “green light”, it means that your voice is on, and it is your turn to talk. The people listening to you have the conversation red light and will wait until you are done to ask questions and make connected comments.
  • Yellow light:  use of the conversation “yellow light” is a great opportunity for our children to get ready for the conversation green light. In this time, they can think about a question to ask or connected comment to make.

Click Here for a great example of a conversation stoplight visual. If you are sitting down for a holiday dinner with your immediate family, each person can have a red, green and yellow cutout by their plate to allow for everyone to have a chance to talk and spread the holiday cheer.  

2.     Conversation Drivers and Stoppers

Now that we’ve talked about ways to use the conversation stoplight with our kids, it is important to educate them on identifying and using conversation stoppers and drivers! Everyday Speech, a social learning platform, teaches the concept of Conversation Drivers and Stoppers to allow children to read a situation and determine whether a specific action drove a conversation or stopped it, depending on the reactions of their conversation partner. Everyday Speech provides us with some wonderful descriptions and examples of Conversation Drivers and Stoppers below:

  • Conversation Driver: behaviors, questions and comments that drive a conversation and keep it going. Some examples include:
    •  Maintaining eye contact
    • Use body language to show we’re interested
    • Stay on topic
    • Make connected comments
    • Asking wondering questions
    • Share the conversation
  • Conversation Stopper: behaviors that stop a conversation by making it confusing and uncomfortable. Some examples include:
    • Avoiding eye contact or directing eye gaze elsewhere
    • Using body language that shows we’re uninterested (e.g., turning body away from conversation partner)
    • Using a tone of voice that does not sound interested
    • Not responding to questions and comments
    • Changing the topic at the wrong time

The holiday season is a great time to connect with others. Use the above strategies with your children to get some great holiday conversations going! While the holidays may look a bit different this year, there are still plenty of ways to connect and maintain positive relationships with others, both near and far, virtually or in person. We encourage you to continue following CDC guidelines by wearing face coverings out in public, maintaining social distancing, and washing your hands frequently. Have a safe holiday season everyone!  

And, as always, we at SST are here to help, click here to learn more. 


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