What do you do if your child is talking in class too much? Help her focus, pay attention, and learn in class with these gentle and effective tips.
Jeanette saw the dreaded teacher’s note.
As usual, it said her child had been disrupting the class again with her nonstop talking. She was also getting left behind because she was missing or misunderstanding instructions.
When your child is talking in class too much
Jeanette tried punishment, which never seemed to work. And both she and her teacher recognized her daughter is a bright girl. But she was running out of ideas on how to get her child stop talking in class. She was afraid the lack of focus and inability to pay attention would hurt her success in school.
These are valid concerns for anyone whose child has struggled with talking too much in class. It’s especially hard because we’re not there in the classroom to monitor their behavior. Then there’s the guilt and stigma of feeling reprimanded ourselves—no parent likes to hear how her child has misbehaved in class yet again.
If this sounds all too familiar, read on. Below are tips to help parents like Jeanette and anyone whose child is talking in class too much:
Find the reason
A talkative child isn’t usually a troublemaker, so it’s important to find the reason why.
As in Jeanette’s case, acknowledge that your child is bright and has many positive traits. Talking in class a lot doesn’t always mean a lack of eagerness to learn or the inability to do well in school. It could mean she…
- feels like that’s the only time she gets attention, whether from the teacher or her classmates.
- feels bored with the material and needs something more challenging.
- is too challenged with the material at school and needs help understanding it.
- sits next to a talkative friend.
- needs frequent physical breaks (in this case, ask her teacher to make sure she’s active, has plenty of hands-on activities and gets the “jiggles” out during the day).
- is entering school. This could be the first time she’s competing for attention with other children.
As you can see, the reasons aren’t as obnoxious as it can seem. Dig deep and find solutions for the most likely reason.
Ask open ended questions to come up with solutions
Kids have a knack for not only coming up with their own solutions, but sticking to them because they came up with it. Before doling our your own suggestions, see if she can brainstorm a few of her own by asking open ended questions. For instance:
- “What happens when you’re talking in class and you can’t hear the teacher’s instructions?”
- “What are the classroom rules about turn-taking or talking out of turn?”
Then encourage her to come up with her own solutions. If she can’t or doesn’t want to, suggest a few of your own. She can…
- fold or sit on her hands when she feels the urge to talk.
- raise her hand before talking.
- write her thoughts on a piece of paper first.
- look the person in the eye before talking.
Practice turn-taking and back and forth conversations at home
Practicing turn-taking habits at home teaches waiting and listening, giving her more chances to control her impulses.
For instance, stop her from interrupting conversations. If she’s talking too much, remind her it’s not time to talk yet, or that it’s quiet time. Do this naturally and respectfully, not like she did something wrong. It’d be as natural as telling her “It’s Monday.” Avoid placing guilt—you’re just stating a fact.
You can also play games that involve taking turns. Board games make for a fun turn-taking activity, or make your own listening and telling games where you each takes turns telling a story. You can also read a book together but take turns reading pages aloud (you read one page, she reads the next).
Praise her when she’s behaving well
Despite her constant talking, your child will at some point be able to contain her urge to talk. During these times, praise her when you catch her behaving well and not speaking out of turn.
Ask her teacher to do the same, even if it’s just a quick whisper of acknowledgment that she waited to speak. It’s more effective to praise the behavior you want to see than to correct the ones you don’t.
Have your child write her thoughts first
Sometimes kids feel an urge to talk because they assume they won’t remember if they don’t say it in that moment.
When she feels this urge, have her write her thoughts instead. By writing it down—even just key words—she now has something to refer to when the appropriate time to speak comes up. She’ll feel reassured she won’t forget what she has to say while giving other people a chance to finish speaking.
Encourage her to keep a small notepad in her pocket to record these thoughts. Should she feel the urge to share a new idea, she can jot it down first before blurting it out at an inappropriate time.
She might also find herself too tired to write her thoughts, at which point, she can develop impulse control. Between a choice of writing it down and simply waiting her turn, she just might learn to wait more often.
Avoid making talking a bad thing
Talking a lot is not a bad thing. I’d hate for any child to grow up thinking she got punished for talking, or to associate her opinion, speaking up or sharing her ideas as something negative.
While you’re teaching her the skill of turn-taking, don’t discourage her enthusiasm to talk and express herself, either. That’s a positive trait in itself. (You can imagine the many parents wish they can get their kids to talk more.)
No parent wants to see the dreaded note or to have the after school conversation about her child talking in class too much. Thankfully, parents can do a lot to change this behavior, even if we’re apart from our kids.
Find the reason your child could be talking a lot in class, from competing for attention to a lack of physical plan. Together, come up with solutions she can try by asking open ended questions. Practice turn-taking and back-and-forth conversations at home, praising her when you catch her making an effort.
If she feels the urge to speak, encourage her to carry a notepad to write her thoughts. She can refer to these for a more appropriate time to talk without fear of forgetting her ideas. And finally, don’t make talking a bad thing—you wouldn’t want the opposite where she feels obligated to remain silent all the time.
Instead, focus on teaching social skills and etiquette. Teach her when it’s appropriate to talk, and when it’s time to listen. Talking is a great skill, but so is listening and the ability to know when to do each one.
Get more tips:
- Remember to Praise Your Child’s Positive Behavior
- Parenting Your Strong Willed Child
- Help Your Child WANT to Behave
- How to Stop Your Child from Interrupting and What to Do Instead
- Unfair Reasons We Get Mad at Our Kids
And read My Mouth Is a Volcano by Julia Cook with your child (affiliate link). The story talks about why kids interrupt and ways to stop.
Tell me in the comments: Does your child struggle with learning how to stop talking in class? What are some ways to encourage children to practice turn-taking and listening (instead of just talking)?
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