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Tuesdays with Jane: Is Your Child Slow to Answer?

Parents who are great conversationalists, who think on their feet, and who like to keep things moving quickly can grow frustrated by children who, well, just don’t seem to hear what you say the first time you say it. And here are the two big mistakes we can make with “slow” kids:

  • Assume they weren’t paying attention and repeat it.
  • Assume they didn’t understand and say it a different way.

Why are those mistakes? Children who are more introverted often want to think things through before they say anything. And, it may take five seconds or so. Count off five seconds—that can seem like an eternity to an adult who is more extroverted!

But, if you repeat what you said or rephrase it before those five seconds are up, for the child it’s like starting the five seconds all over again. You interrupted the thought that was forming and that little brain just has to start over again.

Many introverted children are quite silent in the car after a playdate, or after school, or after a big sports practice—they used their energy up interacting with their friends. Make sure you give them a bit of space to recover and time to answer! It’s easy for extroverted parents who have truly missed their children during the day to long for a lively conversation. Some days it may happen. Other days, reframe that quiet child who is staring out the window. Think, “That’s the picture of batteries charging. And nothing works well when those batteries are run down. I can wait!”


By Jane Kise, Ed.D. – Educational Advisor and Consultant, 
Jane  writes an insightful post every Tuesday for Kidtelligent. Jane is an educational consultant, specializing in teambuilding, coaching, and school staff development. She is also the coauthor of more than 20 books. Jane’s website  is