That sounds more complicated than it really is.
For example, our son is into superheroes and comic books. He’ll talk about little-known superheroes at the drop of the hat, and expect us to know what he’s talking about.
After a while, we caught on that this wasn’t going to change unless we introduced a sort of human barometer. A measure for him to reflect upon and instantly realize what people know, and what they don’t know.
Grandma’s got tons of common sense, is generous and kind, and our son adores her. She is not, however, familiar with every superhero from A-Z. She doesn’t read science fiction and can’t discuss Lego with love and attention to detail. Moreover, she doesn’t play video games or go into raptures about chemistry or physics.
She was the perfect measure for our son to refer to.
So now, when he starts mentioning introducing a superhero nobody else (pardon me, comic book fans) has ever heard of to his class/friend/Grandpa/cousin, we can look him in the eye and say, “Would Grandma know this superhero?”
And he gets the point.
He’ll switch to Superman or Batman as common superhero ground for discussion with other non-comic-book readers. Or consider a different topic altogether.
Sometimes, it feels like we’re bursting his balloon.
But there is a time and a place for going into a subject in depth. And that’s when the people you are talking to are also interested in that subject.
So a light lunch with Grandparents – or parents, or adults – is not the time to delve into the wonders of The Justice League. He knows, however, that there are a lot of other boys out there who like superheroes. So he can discuss them at school.
This also holds true of Star Wars. And Mario Games. And Lego.
Ever since we started shamelessly using my mother like this, his ability to judge what other people know about has increased dramatically. He’s much better about glossing over a topic that interests him, and then circling back if people indicate that they’re interested or know something about it.
This is a difficult skill for our kids to master. So, of course, he makes mistakes.
But we’re so very proud to see the growth, and to see him considering his audience before launching blindly into a monologue. Conversation with him is more rewarding for others, which means they’ll speak to him more often, which means it’ll be more rewarding for him.
And that’s really what it’s about. Helping our loved ones learn skills – conversational or otherwise – that will improve their chances at leading a happy, successful life.