ADHD comes with a number of possible symptoms and traits that are frequently misunderstood. One of these can include excessive talking. If your child with ADHD speaks excessively, what can you do?
Why Children with ADHD May Talk too Much
Why might children with ADHD talk “too much” - or more than other people? The answer is simple: Excessive talking and talking out of turn are actually direct symptoms of ADHD.
If your child has ADHD, they may talk excessively without realizing it. But, what causes this in folks with ADHD? There are a number of different things that could cause or contribute to the problem:
- Hyperactivity/impulsivity symptoms. People with ADHD may have thoughts that come and go faster than other people. A child may speak impulsively, blurt things out, or they may feel excited and eager to say what’s on their mind.
- Inattention symptoms. Inattention symptoms, like trouble remembering, can impact social skills and conversation. When your child has a thought, they may feel pressured (internally) to say it right then so that they don’t forget.
- Executive functioning. Awareness is one executive functioning skill that people with ADHD struggle with. This may mean that they are less aware of natural pauses in conversations, when to stop talking, and when to let others speak.
- Reward system. Talking about oneself can light up the reward system in the brain. We know that, for people with ADHD, rewards play a profound role, so this is worthwhile to note if your child tends to talk about themselves or their thoughts specifically.
With it in mind that excessive talking isn’t typically on purpose - and is something that can impact a person’s self-esteem well into adulthood - it’s important to address this issue with patience and compassion.
How to Handle Excessive Talking
Wondering how to handle excessive talking in kids with ADHD? Here are some things you can do:
Teach kids to apologize for slip-ups.
For many people with ADHD, there will be slip-ups when it comes to symptoms like talking more than other people or speaking out of turn. So, one of the best things you can do is teach your child how to apologize for interrupting. You can say something like, “we all interrupt sometimes. If you notice that you interrupt, you can say something along the lines of, ‘I’m sorry, I noticed that I interrupted you! What were you saying?’”
Talk about active listening skills.
Gently educate your child on active listening skills. Similar to how you might teach your child how to read, engage in chores, or use other life skills, kids also benefit from learning about communication and how to treat others.
This doesn’t mean saying “you need to listen” - that isn’t specific enough for many kids. It also doesn’t mean shaming your child for excessive talking. Instead, it means giving your child real listening skills.
You may teach them tricks such as counting to three in their head after someone’s done talking before they reply so that they know the other person is done talking or showing people that they are listening by nodding their head and asking questions.
Reward positive behavior.
Rewarding positive behavior is very beneficial for kids with ADHD. This can include rewarding a child for active listening, or it could include rewarding a child for noticing that they interrupted and correcting their behavior. Rewards don’t have to be objects or things that are expensive, but can also be verbal praise (e.g., Good job catching yourself).
Lead by example.
Listen to your child attentively, use the listening skills you want them to apply, and apologize if you interrupt. This can be particularly important if you live with ADHD, too, and share this symptom. The more that kids are able to see their parents model positive behavior, the more likely they are to also engage in the same behavior.
Pursue therapy and other treatments.
Therapy and other forms of treatment can be helpful for kids with ADHD and may aid in curbing symptoms such as excessive talking or talking out of turn. Parent therapy or training is very helpful and recommended for parents of those with ADHD, as it can provide you with individualized, professional, evidence-based guidance for navigating excessive talking, blurting, and other ADHD symptoms.
Curbing Inappropriate Comments
A potential sign of ADHD is blurting things out - as in, blurting out answers to questions, or blurting things that are otherwise inappropriate, whether it’s the timing that’s inappropriate (for example, when someone else is talking), or the content of what they’re saying (for example, a child may say something hurtful or rude to another person, even if unintentionally so).
Your knee-jerk reaction to curbing inappropriate comments may be to say, “don’t do that!” but this actually is not often the most helpful response. Instead, it is often best to calmly explain why it was inappropriate or to ignore it altogether.
Be specific, and come to the conversation from the perspective that your child may truly not understand why what they did was wrong. Take a deep breath and consider thinking of what to say first to avoid reacting in anger or distress. Apologize and re-start the conversation if you do.
Comprehension of ADHD symptoms can help you understand your child and their behavior. In time, and with help from you as a parent, as well as professional support, such as that which a child may receive in therapy, symptoms can improve.
Other Symptoms of ADHD
Maybe, your child isn’t diagnosed, but you suspect ADHD. Alternatively, perhaps your child is diagnosed, but you’re not as educated on ADHD as you would like to be quite yet. What are the symptoms that might lead to an ADHD diagnosis?
You might notice inattention symptoms, like:
- Forgetfulness that affects daily activities.
- Trouble listening or appearing as though one isn’t listening when they’re spoken to.
- Frequent difficulty sustaining focus or attention during tasks (such as homework, lectures, conversations, and reading) or play activities.
- Making seemingly careless mistakes or difficulty with attention to detail.
- Frequent trouble in following through with tasks or following instructions (one may become sidetracked, etc.)
- Frequent trouble organizing tasks or activities.
- The avoidance, dislike, or reluctance to engage in tasks (like school assignments) that require sustained mental effort.
- Losing things that are necessary for life activities (school supplies, keys, phone, etc.)
- Being easily distracted by external stimuli.
Or, you might identify symptoms of hyperactivity/impulsivity. In addition to frequent excessive talking, which is a common symptom within this category, you might notice:
- Fidgeting, squirming, or tapping.
- Running or climbing in situations where this is inappropriate (or, in adults, restlessness).
- Moving or getting up when one’s expected to sit down.
- Trouble playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly.
- Seeming as though one’s “driven by a motor” or as though they’re “always on the go.”
- Blurting the answer to a question before the other person is done speaking.
- Interrupting or intruding on others (IE, entering someone else’s conversation or game).
- Difficulty waiting for one’s turn.
If you notice that your child experiences a significant number of symptoms in either or both of these categories, they may have ADHD.
There are three types or presentations of ADHD, including inattentive ADHD (which requires 6+ inattention symptoms in those aged 17 and below or 5+ inattention symptoms in those aged 17 or above), primarily hyperactive-impulsive ADHD (which requires 6+ hyperactivity/impulsivity symptoms in those aged 17 and below or 5+ hyperactivity/impulsivity symptoms in those aged 17 or above) and combined presentation.
A qualified healthcare professional can provide an adequate assessment and diagnosis and will rule out any other potential causes prior to diagnosis.
Excessive talking is a common ADHD symptom. If someone experiences excessive talking alongside other symptoms of ADHD, it could lead to the diagnosis of ADHD. Symptom management is possible for those with ADHD and can include improvement in this area as well as others.