Excessive Talking and ADHD: When a Child Talks Incessantly

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Excessive talking is a common symptom for kids with ADHD who often have trouble inhibiting and controlling their responses. They may blurt out whatever first comes to mind (whether appropriate or not) without thinking through how their words may be received.

Kids (and adults) with ADHD may also monopolize conversations and talk excessively. Some parents might refer to it as "diarrhea of the mouth." It is like hyperactivity with words.

Talking too much can be hard for kids, parents, and teachers alike. Here we take a look at why kids with ADHD talk too much—and what you can do to curb excessive talking and quell inappropriate comments to ensure this symptoms does not impact your child's school and social life.

Why Kids With ADHD May Talk Too Much

In general, kids with ADHD often have trouble with "too much behavior"—too much talking, humming, noises, movement, fidgeting, wiggling, getting into things, etc.

In addition, the following may cause kids with ADHD to talk too much:

  • Hyperactivity: Hyperactivity may present as physical and/or verbal overactivity, including talking excessively, interrupting others, monopolizing conversations, and not letting others talk.
  • Language pragmatics: Talking too much is also related to language pragmatics, or the social use of language. Language problems, including pragmatics, is common in nearly half of children with ADHD.
  • Social cues: Many kids with ADHD have a hard time picking up on and reading social cues, which can make it difficult to take turns in conversations.
  • Self-control: ADHD can interfere with a child's self-control and ability to manage impulsive behaviors like blurting out whatever comes to mind.
  • Medication: Although not common, one study found that a child with ADHD experienced an increase in verbal output 45 minutes after taking Ritalin (methylphenidate).

Curb Excessive Talking

Coping with overactivity and a lack of self-control can be very frustrating for the child with ADHD, and a lack of impulse control and filtering can be quite off-putting to others. In fact, excessive talking may cause children with ADHD to experience rejection from others, which is why it's so important to work with your child to manage this difficult symptom.

Talk to Your Child's Team

The first thing to do is to talk with your child’s doctor, who may want to prescribe or change medications or refer your child to a psychologist or occupational therapist to address excessive talking. If it's left unaddressed, it may impair your child's social life.

It's also important to involve your child's teacher. Tell them about your child's excessive talking and share any strategies you've found helpful when working on this symptom.

Problem-Solve With Your Child

The next thing to do is sit down with your child when they are fairly focused and amenable to talking and problem-solving. Address the talking/blurting out issue with them and come up with a plan to reduce the excessive talking. Your child may be interested in setting up a reward system to help motivate this change in behavior.

Together with your child, come up with a signal you can give them to help increase their awareness of the times when they are talking too much—perhaps the signal could be you placing your hand on their shoulder as a reminder to stop when they are going on and on.

A physical signal like touching their shoulder is often stronger than a visual signal like a finger to the lips, but you may want to try using both signals together. It might help if you pair the signal with self-talk. In other words, when you place your hand on their shoulder or your finger to your lips, your child says either out loud or in their head, "I need to stop myself from talking right now" or something similar.

This self-talk can often be very helpful, especially for kids with ADHD who tend to lag a bit in their ability to use self-talk to guide their behaviors. You’ll need to provide a lot of modeling, feedback, and guidance to help them to develop this skill.

Strengthen Social Skills

Unfortunately, excessive talking can make it hard for kids with ADHD to make and keep friends and be accepted within a larger peer group. When your child is young, you'll likely need to play the role of "friendship coach," as you carefully plan playdates and activities that will create opportunities for friendship development.

Prior to these get-togethers, you can review and practice some of the basics, including taking turns in conversations, listening, showing interest in the other child, and speaking in a normal tone of voice, that can help shape good social skills. Your child's teacher (and coach or another adult caregiver) can also play a role in social skills training.

Quell Inappropriate Comments

For the situations in which your child blurts out inappropriate things, teach them how to delay their response by counting to five before making comments, and then practice, practice, practice. This is another new skill that will require a lot of modeling and assistance from you.

Also, it is important to give your child frequent and immediate feedback about their behavior and let them know what they are doing well. Words of praise combined with strong incentives can be very powerful in motivating a change in behavior.

A Word From Verywell

Talking too much can be challenging for children, parents, and teachers alike, so helping kids learn to manage this symptom will help reduce stress for everyone. Luckily, there are treatment options, including medications and therapies, as well as coping strategies that can help you and your family curb excessive talking and prevent it from interfering with your child's school and social life.

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