Most parents can't wait for their child's first word. But around age 3, parents often long for just a few moments of silence during the day. Many preschoolers are constant conversationalists, releasing every thought in their head in an unending stream. Talking to you, or just to themselves, is one of the ways children learn, process and assimilate information, so you don't want to turn off the spigot. But society demands that children learn to speak only at certain times. Most children learn this naturally; those who don't might have a developmental disorder that requires investigation.
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Defining Normal Talking
For many preschoolers, when their eyes open, the words start spilling out of their mouths; they don't stop talking until they fall asleep at night. Asking "why" questions" all day long falls into the range of normal behavior for 3- to 4-year-olds, Canadian social worker Gary Direnfeld explains on the Parents Canada website. But by age 5, most children learn that conversation has a give-and-take element, and that they should wait their turn to say what's on their minds. A child who still hasn't mastered conversational give-and-take, or who monopolizes conversations, by age 7 or 8 can find himself socially ostracized. Talk to your pediatrician if your child's talking seems excessive.
Types of Excessive Talking
Excessive talking can fall into two categories: behavioral and biological. If your child talks too much because he's learned it's a way to get attention, it's a behavioral issue you can change. Changes in the frontal lobe of the brain, which controls the ability to put a governor on certain behaviors, causes biologically based excessive talking. Problems with right-brain functioning might suffer from nonverbal learning disabilities.These children talk early but much of their conversation consists of "cocktail speech," which features constant conversation that contains little substance, according to the Parents Canada article. Some children with biologically based disorders have pressured speech, which means they talk loudly and incessantly, even if no one is listening, and they are difficult to interrupt, according to the book "Modern Differential Geometric Techniques in the Theory of Continuous Distributions of Dislocations."
Causes of Excessive Talking
Children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, pervasive developmental disorders, which include autism and Asperger's syndrome or bipolar disorder, often talk excessively, according to the book "Survival Strategies for Parenting Children with Bipolar Disorder: Innovative Parenting and Counseling Techniques." Anxiety or anger problems can also cause excessive talking. Children with pervasive developmental disorders or bipolar disorders might have pressured speech that they can't control. Children with some types of organic brain damage or genetic syndromes, such as Williams syndrome, also talk too much and make little to no discrimination between friends and strangers, or between appropriate or nonappropriate conversation, according to a 2007 articled in "The New York Times."
Helping Your Child
In many cases, children who talk too much don't pick up nonverbal cues from others that indicate irritation, anger or frustration. Because 65 percent of conversation is nonverbal, special education teacher Sue Thompson explains in a Learning Disability online article, a child who doesn't pick up these cues will talk more because nonverbal responses don't sink in or go over his head. Most children who talk too much won't stop just because you ask them to. In some cases, therapy or behavior modification can help.
- ParentsCanada: When Your Child Won't Stop Talking
- LD Online: Non-Verbal Learning Disorders
- KidsHealth: What Is ADHD?
- The New York Times: Williams Syndrome
- Survival Strategies for Parenting Children with Bipolar Disorder: Innovative Parenting and Counseling Techniques; page 180
- Modern Differential Geometric Techniques in the Theory of Continuous Distributions of Dislocations; page 282
- MedicineNet: Pervasive Development Disorders