When Your Child Won't Stop Talking

My nine-year-old stepson is a chatterbox. It seems that he likes the sound of his own voice. He is an honor roll student but this year, he is constantly getting into trouble for his talking. I have met with his teacher, both his father and I have talked to him, and he has been punished, but nothing seems to help. When we ask him why he keeps talking in class, he just says, "I don't know." We are at our wits end!

Question:

I compliment you and your stepson on his excellent grades. Being a good student can be hard work. It is interesting to me that he is still managing to get good grades despite the fact that he is so talkative.

My initial instinct is to consider boredom or lack of challenge as the source of his chattiness. Could this be a possibility? If so, perhaps the teacher would consider developing an independent research project for him that would provide some challenge as well as a unique learning experience. Perhaps he could deliver his findings to the class as a culminating activity -- which would give him a captive audience. By giving him an alternate channel for his energy, he may be able to put that energy into a more positive outcome.

A behavior management technique that I have used with a certain measure of success is an incremental behavior chart. I write each subject or each hour of the school day on an index card. If the child is able to maintain control during that subject or time period, I give the child a sticker or stamp. If the child is able to get the agreed upon number of stamps or stickers by the end of the day, I give the child a small reward, such as a note home, treasure box item, or a pencil. By segmenting the day, the child can see his progress and knows where he stands with his behavior at all times. You may want to suggest this method to your child's teacher to see if she would be willing to try it with him.

This young man sounds very personable. Does he have many friends? Do you think that he is attempting to make more friends with this behavior? Perhaps he is seeking attention that he feels he is lacking from his peers. You may want to observe him in the classroom to see what leads up to this behavior and watch how he reacts to the responses of his peers when he gets chatty with them. They may be encouraging him without even being aware of it. Preferential seating near the teacher may be necessary to help him control his talking.

Continue working closely with the teacher on this problem. Together you may be able to help your stepson learn to control his desire to talk at inappropriate times.

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