Inspired by this thread, and also by the fact we’re going to see mr. hunter’s nephews in a couple of weeks. But mostly because I’m curious.
How do you carry on a conversation with a kid you don’t see every day (or see the parents every day), so that you don’t necessarily know everything (except possibly the odd large event or two) that’s going on in the kid’s life? I know from experience both as a kid being asked questions by adults, and an adult asking questions of kids, that questions that are too open-ended, like “How’s it going?” and “How do you like school?” are complete non-starters. They just stare at you like “Why are you doing this to me?”
One technique I’ve used before with a fair amount of success is to ask them to explain how their favorite/new video game works. They’re usually more than happy to explain in great detail, as long as I am obviously interested and keep asking questions. For kids that read a lot of books (which unfortunately does not describe my nephews, although they do read more than they used to, so maybe I’ll at least give this a try), another technique that almost always works for me is to ask them to recommend books to me. (Then in subsequent conversations I can talk about what I thought about the book, and discuss other books by that author – it works really well, when it works. Pity it works so rarely.) I also had some luck talking to my cousin’s son about Star Wars and having him tell me all about Darth Maul, whom he loves, but he’s only 5. I’m not sure that would fly so well with the 9-year-old and 7-year-old we’re visiting.
And adolescents are another whole ball game. Almost all my acquaintances and relatives don’t have adolescent children yet, so I have no experience with this. I have NO idea how to carry on a conversation with an adolescent. Unless he likes books.
What are your techniques for talking to kids? Adolescents?