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Help! My child talks non-stop

For parents whose children talk non-stop from morning to night, there is a certain truth to the phrase “children should be seen and not heard”. Especially when the teacher sends home a note that says their child’s talking is disrupting the classroom, or when your child tells the woman in the grocery store about a private conversation the night before. All parents want to encourage their children to express themselves, but when is it too much? And how do you get your little chatterbox to stop, take a step back, and listen?

Having a child who talks a lot and wants to engage with you is good, so let’s figure out how to make it good for everyone.

What You Should Be Looking Out For?

Nonstop talking isn’t just about the amount of time children take up in a conversation or how long they go on about the same subject. It is also about when and where they talk, and what they say.

  • Take over the conversation
  • Talk over or interrupt people
  • Talk at an inappropriate time or place
  • Offend or annoy people by saying the first thing that pops into their head

Did you know?

Your child’s non-stop talking could be due to a lack of impulse control & that impulse control can be measured! Contact us today to schedule your chid’s FOCUS assessment.

Download our free FOCUS Assessment eBook

Ways to Help With Nonstop Talking

No matter what the cause of the constant talking is, there are ways to help your child have more control over it.

  1. Be patient. It takes time, effort, and lots of practice for children to get into the habit of using these kinds of strategies.
  2. Stop, look, and listen. Show your child how to stop every few sentences and look to see how the other people in the conversation are reacting. Do they look or sound annoyed?
  3. Write it down. If your child speaks up in class too much, suggest writing the ideas down to bring up later. Doing this can help at home, too.
  4. Role-play conversations. Explain to your child that the most important part of talking with other people is listening. Then have practice conversations. Help your child focus on listening by asking questions about what you have been saying.
  5. Make Time for Talk. Make purposeful time for conversations throughout the day, so you know there is true talking happening. This can be ten minutes while you prepare dinner, a nice cuddle in bed at bedtime, or talking in the car while running errands.
  6. Make Eye Contact. When you talk to your child, make sure that your child is making eye contact with you, and vice versa.
  7. Let Them Talk… and Let Go of Guilt. At the end of the day, some children go on and on and on and on and it’s not only annoying, but maddening. Ultimately, we want our children to talk to us freely and willingly, but we also have limits. If you must, just let them talk. You can even tell them they are free to talk, but you can’t respond right now. And that is okay. You do not have to feel guilty that you aren’t able to engage in active conversation 24 hours a day. Your child will quickly learn when it is a good idea to talk to you or not.
  8. Choose Helpful Phrases. If it feels like your ears are on fire from all the constant talking, try these helpful phrases instead of “losing it”.
  • Give me a minute.
  • I need some space.
  • No talking for a minute or two.

Could endless chatter mean something else?

It sounds like a silly thing to be worried about, but parents need to be aware that there might be a deeper reason responsible for this behaviour and should determine what is behind their child’s need to talk. Is this a child who is starved for attention because no one listens to them? Is it just a sneaky way of misbehaving? Or is there something going on, biologically, in the child’s brain? Our frontal lobes control our brakes. Might something be happening neurologically that causes the brakes not to work?

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): Children with ADHD do lots of things in excess: move, fidget, sing, hum, and yes, talk. Their lack of impulse control can make it difficult for them not to interrupt or blurt out inappropriate things.
  • Asperger’s Syndrome: People with this autism spectrum disorder have difficulty picking up on social cues; they may take over conversations and not even realise that the other person is uncomfortable, frustrated, or eager to get away.
  • Nonverbal Learning Disorder: Caused by deficiencies in right brain function, children with this disorder are highly verbal, with very mature vocabularies, good memory skills, and early reading ability. This verbosity is sometimes referred to as “cocktail party speech,” because they may say a lot, but the content may have very little substance.

Remember, developmentally, children start to ask a lot of questions somewhere around age three or four. They start to use that dreaded three-letter word ‘why’ and they can’t be satiated. This is normal developmental behaviour. But by age five, they typically master the social conventions of a conversation: taking turns talking and listening. If by age seven or eight the child is still taking over most conversations, interrupting, and talking over people, it can do more than irritate his parents and peers; it can be disastrous both socially and academically.

When the usual methods of parenting don’t work (spoken to the child, scolded the child, tried to educate the child), and the behaviour persists, there may be something else going on. That’s when a consultation with a behaviour expert would be reasonable.

If there is no underlying health reason, sit down with your child, and have an honest discussion about their excessive talking, and come up with a plan to alert them when it is happening. A physical or visual signal (like you placing your hand on their back or silently putting a finger over your lips) can help them become aware of when they are taking over conversations or interrupting people. A system of rewards and consequences can also be useful and be prepared to give lots of positive feedback when they are showing restraint.

And remember, when your child is a tight-lipped teenager you will probably look back wistfully at the years when you couldn’t get a word in edgewise.

At Biolink Attention Training, we want nothing more than to see your child be successful, just as much as you do. If you feel that you need some help in guiding your son or daughter with their academics or address their impulsive behaviours, then contact us today or find a center near you.

Lizaan Spangenberg

Biolink Attention Training Head Office