Many years ago, I was a child who talks too much in class. I am now “paying for my raising” as folks around here say. In other words, my daughter also talks too much in class
As both an elementary school teacher and a mama to my own chatterbox, I have some thoughts to share on the topic.
If your own child continually gets in trouble for talking too much in class, here’s what I think you should know.
When Your Gifted Child Talks Too Much in Class
This type of talking can take two different forms: 1) Blurting out answers inappropriately or 2) Conversation with other students that arises due to boredom or finishing early.
When a gifted child blurts out answers too often during group discussion or when the teacher is asking for raised hands, it’s simply a matter of reigning in the child’s natural love of learning and reinforcing the need for discipline. Gifted kids CAN practice self discipline, raise their hands, and not blurt out answers.
It can also help to remind the child that classes are basically teams, where the goal is for the whole class to learn as much as possible. Especially younger children need frequent reminders that calling out answers before everyone has had a chance to think is hurting our friends’ ability to learn.
If a gifted child is simply not working hard and talking with friends instead, that’s purely a behavioral consideration, and it needs consequences. Just like you’d hold a child accountable for engaging with work that’s too hard, you must also hold kids accountable for doing work that’s too easy. Not everything is going to be scaffolded correctly every time. We all do things that are either boring or frustrating throughout life.
Early finishers will sometimes talk and get into trouble while others are still trying to complete work. Collaborate with the teacher to get them some early finisher tasks, or ask if your child can read a favorite book during that time.
When kids talk too much in class, it’s not a big deal.
Every teacher reading this just panicked and said, “Yes it is!”
Don’t misunderstand me; when a child talks too much in class, it needs to be corrected. I’ll get to that part.
In fact, teachers work really hard to manage this problem on their own and exchange ideas for limiting inappropriate talking all the time.
But this isn’t a character issue unless it goes unaddressed. You have a wonderful child, so don’t go nuts because your child got a write-up for talking too much, or was required to have a consequence during recess for repeatedly interrupting instruction.
You don’t have to worry that your child’s teacher doesn’t like him or her because they got in trouble for talking too much. You don’t have to concern yourself with whether or not he’ll end up in jail. In other words, don’t spazz out and make this into an unnecessarily huge issue. Your child was acting up a bit today, because he or she isn’t a perfect robot child.
Even if it happens a lot, it’s still not a HUGE deal. It’s just an ongoing challenge for your child.
Take a deep breath. It’s gonna be okay, Mama!
Kids who talk too much in class need a consequence at home.
Some of you are wondering what is an appropriate punishment for talking in class, but I prefer to use the term “consequence,” because life has natural consequences. The same should apply here. You should have an at-home consequence every time your child gets in trouble at school, even for minor infractions. That’s because it communicates to your child that you and the school are on the same team.
You are both on TEAM KIDDO.
So often, I hear Mamas on social media saying things like, “I’ve got my kid’s back no matter what!” Guess what? Almost all of us do.
All of us want the best for our kids, but we really do serious harm when we assume that schools do not share the same goal, just because schools issue consequences for inappropriate behavior.
As a teacher, I know that almost every teacher my child encounters throughout her 13 years in public school will be in the profession because they love kids. They will love my daughter, too. Even on the days she has to sit out for five minutes of recess, have a solo lunch day, or when she doesn’t get to visit the treasure chest on Friday.
Loving parents and schools discipline children. It’s because we love kids that we enforce consequences and issue rewards.
Consequences need to be issued on the same day as when your child got in trouble, and they should be minor, relevant, and administered lovingly. Here are some example consequences (or punishments for talking in class) that I’ve used with my talkative 6 year old:
- “You were just really wound up and talkative today, and I’ve noticed that seems to happen when you don’t get enough sleep. Tonight’s bed time will be 30 minutes earlier than normal. I bet tomorrow you’ll have more self-control.”
- “You had so many stories to tell today! I’m sure they were interesting, but your interruptions made it so hard for your teacher to do her job. Instead of t.v. time this afternoon, I think you better write an apology letter.”
- “Today you weren’t listening well because you had so much to say to your friends. I think tonight you should work your listening. Instead of having play time tonight, I’m going to have you rest alone on your bed and listen to some sounds.”
Teach your child that other voices matter.
Talking at inappropriate times (and too much) is a problem because it robs other people of their moment to be heard.
During Whole Group Instruction
When a teacher is trying to teach, and a child keeps interjecting in whole group, it’s because they don’t respect the value of what the teacher is saying. They believe their own comments are more important. That’s totally normal, and age appropriate, and it’s not a big deal. It’s still a behavior that needs correction and discussion.
You need to remind them that their teacher’s voice matters.
During Group Work
During group work, some kids just hog all the time. It’s true that these kids often have leadership skills, but not allowing other ideas to be shared isn’t being a good teammate. If your child tends to steal the spotlight, have some conversations about what it feels like to have your ideas ignored. Help them imagine how other kids might be feeling when your child talks too much during group assignments.
During Independent Work
When your child is supposed to do be doing independent work, and they keep chattering instead, it’s because they don’t believe the assignment is important.
They need to be reminded that doing difficult assignments is how we grow and learn. If we avoid the work, and choose to talk instead, we are not stretching our brains.
Teach your child that following the rules is important.
Sometimes, kids talk at totally inappropriate times because they’re disrespecting a well-known rule. Maybe it’s happening in the hallways or during a fire drill (when silence is expected), or maybe she’s getting way too wound up in the cafeteria after multiple reminders to settle down.
Again, this is not a huge deal that needs to result in a week-long punishment, tearful conversation, or anything else dramatic.
Kids like to push boundaries and test limits. If your child is getting in trouble for talking in the hallways, during a drill, or some other (seemingly arbitrary) time, they’re in trouble because they chose to ignore a well-known boundary. They probably also got several reminders before the consequence.
The rules are there for a reason. If you don’t like the rule, quietly talk with an administrator about it so you can gain more information. Please don’t challenge the school’s authority in front of your child, at least until you fully understand what the rule is about.
Remember, you and the school are on the same team. What team is that?
Practice moderating noise and talking at home.
There are times when kids talk way too much at home, and they’re driving you nuts. I have been there! You can totally address this without crushing your child’s spirit.
It sounds like this: “Honey, you have so many fun ideas and great stories. I bet all of them are fabulous. But I’m feeling overwhelmed right now, and I could use some quiet time. Can you go play by yourself until 8:30? I bet by then I’ll be ready to hear all about it.”
Here are some reasons why I think a script like this works well:
- It’s honest.
- It’s gentle.
- It teaches them that adults have feelings, too, and can express them in ways that don’t hurt.
- It gives them a solution to the problem you’re presenting.
It’s okay to tell your kid they talk too much. Just don’t be mean about it!
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Honor your child’s ideas and conversations when expressed appropriately.
During those moments when your child has a lot to say, yet they are doing so appropriately, take a moment to recognize it.
Here are some ways to encourage your chatterbox:
- I love how you waited until your brother finished his story before you shared your own ideas!
- That story you told was hilarious!
- It sounds like you loved that cartoon. I feel like I watched it with you after that vivid description!
- Wow! You’re getting lots better at listening when you have a conversation. It was nice of you to notice what your dad was saying before you started talking.
Celebrate the good weeks of school.
You can also have little celebration moments for every week of school that passes trouble-free.
If your child goes a whole week without getting in trouble for excessive talking, you can have a fun reward, like an ice-cream outing, movie night with Mama, or trip to the Target dollar spot. It’s not bribery if it’s a surprise celebration.
Look for opportunities to give your talker your undivided attention.
Talkers are usually just looking for attention.
Are you finding time to give them undivided attention? Check to make sure that you’re regularly putting your phone down when they speak. Are you looking them in the eye when they talk as much as possible? Are you asking follow-up questions, or just distractedly nodding “Uh-huh…”
I make all these same mistakes. No Mama is perfect, and you don’t need to be, either. Sometimes those long-winded stories are BORING, and we’ve all got stuff at home that needs doing.
But if we can make sure our child feels heard and valued at home, they’re less likely to have inappropriate outbursts at school.