Three Cheers for NEAR! by Dr. Jyoti Hegde
Parents and teachers can use this short story to encourage children to start conversations with peers.
"Speak something, just don't smile." Tara was used to hearing this dialogue from her mom every time she was introduced to someone of her age. Poor Tara wished she could speak confidently and make friends easily. But she didn’t know what to speak!
One day after yet another scolding from her mom, she was sitting alone in the balcony. Her father approached her and asked her, "What happened Tara? Why are you so sad?" Tara burst into tears and replied, "Oh, Daddy! I know it is important to socialise and speak to new people since we make new friends, get to know other's ideas and learn new things. But my problem is I don't know how to start a conversation."
Tara's dad consoled her, "Dear, I will share with you a NEAR method which will help you to start a conversation when you meet someone for the first time." Tara breathed a sigh of relief. Her dad explained, "You can start asking any of these questions when you meet a person with whom you want to start a conversation. You can ask the person's Name and Education - which standard and school they are studying. You can ask about All their favourite things like food, sport, cartoon character, TV show. You can also ask about their Residence -where they stay. You will surely find some common interest which will take your conversation forward. But Tara, don't just keep asking questions as it will make it sound like a police interrogation. Share some of your details too before you ask information to make the other person feel comfortable." Tara was overjoyed. The NEAR method offered her a ray of hope to make new friends. Next day at the park, Tara's mom was surprised to hear Tara speak confidently to the girl sitting on the other side of the see-saw, "Hi, I am Tara. What is your name?"
Now, she not only speaks confidently with new kids but also encourages others to use NEAR to converse without fear!
Dr. Jyoti Hegde is a Corporate soft skills trainer and a life skills trainer for kids based in Goa, India. Her passion is to conduct sessions for kids on the values, habits, and life skills needed for health, happiness and success.