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100 Tips for Nannies and Families

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Constant Chatter

Your child chatters constantly.  S/he tells you his/her every thought and feeling.  S/he tells you stories.  S/he tells you about the thoughts, feelings, and stories of his/her little classmates.  And s/he asks endless questions.  Is it normal for a child to talk this much?  Should you do something about it?  Read on for more information.

First, you should know that some children can grow out of the need to chatter constantly.  Parents are tasked with helping their children mature and understand the rules regarding socially accepted behavior (hereinafter referred to as boundaries).  When your child exhibits a behavior that runs counter to a boundary, it is up to you to educate your child on where that boundary rests and how important it is to behave within the proscribed boundaries.  For example, if you and your spouse are trying to have a conversation but your child keeps interrupting and speaking ever louder all the while, it is up to you to take a moment to explain that, unless there is something truly urgent happening (i.e., your child wants to alert you to the small kitchen fire occurring just outside your range of vision), then s/he needs to wait his/her turn in the conversation.  You can speak to your child about how important it is to let people feel heard, each in turn.  You may help your child recall an experience in which s/he felt unheard by being interrupted.  You should conclude with a few sentences about how important it is for all people to be able to establish and maintain healthy relationships with others.

While you are imparting the above lesson (and, yes, you will need to impart it on multiple occasions), you can institute “quiet times”.  These designated periods of silence can be wonderfully peaceful for parents of chatterboxes.  Also, they are excellent opportunities to observe if your child is capable of maintaining silence for the designated length of time.

If you have repeatedly shared this learning opportunity with your child . . . all for naught . . . then it may be time for further inquiry.  Ask your child what makes him/her speak as s/he does.  Is something bothering him/her?  Is s/he feeling insecure?  Is s/he very bright and feeling frustrated that the rest of the world can’t keep up with him/her?   Is s/he lonely?   Could your child have ADHD?  If you cannot get to the root of the issue in parent-child conversation, then perhaps it is time to have your child visit with a child psychologist. 

You want the best for your child:  good friends, a quality education, and a happy and healthy life.  You do not want people to flee from your child because of the incessant chatter, nor do you want your child to struggle academically (even though s/he may be very bright) because of chatter-related difficulties.  By identifying the problematic behavior and responding to it promptly as detailed above, you can take the steps necessary to help your little chatterbox mature, understand social boundaries, cultivate friends, and succeed in school.

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