Talking with your kids or teenagers is an effective form of communication, but when your child engages in excessive talking, this could be a sign of a serious issue. While it’s normal for some rapid and self-focused speech in adolescence, teens who talk excessively may speak impulsively and overshare information at inappropriate places and times. Excessive talking also makes it difficult for others to engage with them in conversations, negatively impacting relationships.
“Excessive talking impairs various aspects of a child’s social, work, and school life,” stated Katherine Atherton, a mental health therapist at Optimum Performance Institute. She noted overtalking can be a symptom of deeper issues, such as anxiety or bipolar disorder. Thus, if your teen is speaking excessively to an extreme, learning what is at the root of your child’s excessive talking is essential to treat them effectively. This article explores the mental issues behind different forms of excessive talking and how children learn to communicate in healthy ways.
Table of contents
- Signs Your Child or Teen May Talk Excessively
- Common Types of Excessive Speech
- Mental Health Issues That Can Cause Excessive Talking
- How to Help a Child or Teen Who Excessively Talks
- Coping Strategies for Parents
- Excessive Talking: Wrapup
Signs Your Child or Teen May Talk Excessively
Distinguishing excessive talking from normally chatty behavior is important to determine if your child has a problem. Children and teens who talk compulsively may:
- Speak at inappropriate times and/or places
- Talk over or interrupt people
- Regularly take over a conversation
- Overshare information, including inappropriate information
- Impulsively say whatever comes into their mind
- Talk so rapidly that other people find it hard to get a word in
Common Types of Excessive Speech
Overtalking takes different forms based on the type of mental issues behind this behavior. Common types of excessive speech include hyperverbal speech, pressured speech, and compulsive talking.
Hyperverbal speech is characterized by talking at a very fast pace, to the point where a person can verbalize many words in a short span of time. If your child or teen engages in hyperverbal behavior, you may have noticed them interrupting people to get everything they want to say out.
Like hyperverbal speech, pressured speech is a very rapid, forceful form of speaking. People who use pressured speech may find it hard to stop talking and speak at a higher volume. But where hyperverbal speech involves simply talking quickly, people who engage in pressured speech can jump from idea to idea so fast that other people have a hard time following their train of thought.
Compulsive talking, which can be linked to a personality disorder, leads your child or teen to talk more than others. They may find it hard to remain quiet in places such as the library, movie theater, or classroom, drawing negative attention. Some compulsive talkers may not realize how much they are talking and can become argumentative, take over conversations, and show little regard for criticism.
Mental Health Issues That Can Cause Excessive Talking
Excessive talking is a symptom associated with multiple problems with mental health. This makes it important to properly diagnose your child or teen to develop an effective treatment plan. Common disorders associated with overtalking include ADHD, anxiety, bipolar, and personality disorders.
Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
“It’s common to see compulsive talking in people with ADHD,” stated Atherton. “There’s a feeling you do not have the ability to stop talking.” She noted that poor impulse control is an aspect of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder which can cause excessive talking. Children and teens with ADHD tend to have a hard time taking turns in conversations and frequently interrupt others.
While many believe people with anxiety disorders avoid social interaction, Atherton found anxiety can also manifest as hyperverbal speech and/or compulsive talking. This disorder may cause a person to feel as if they can’t stop talking while their increasing anxiety causes their speech to become faster.
Bipolar disorder leaves a person in manic and depressed states. During manic moments, they may use both hyperverbal and pressured speech. But during depressed states, they become withdrawn and quiet. Thus, if your child does not excessively talk all the time but alternates between hyperverbal and withdrawn states, they could be exhibiting symptoms of bipolar disorder.
While there are different personality disorders, Atherton noted narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is associated with excessive talking. People with NPD have low self-esteem and compensate by creating a confident façade. This leads them to talk about themselves excessively. Unlike some excessive talkers, a narcissist may not use pressured or hyperverbal speech but will frequently interrupt others and dominate conversations to maintain their sense of control.
“It’s common to see people who are in psychosis having consistent patterns of disorganized speech and moving rapidly from one idea to another,” said Atherton. This pressured speech makes it difficult for others to understand a schizophrenic and can be accompanied by other cognitive symptoms such as memory issues, difficulty concentrating, and problems with organizing thoughts.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
“Sometimes people talk a lot because they are trying to avoid painful emotions,” stated Atherton. “So, if you’re constantly talking, you don’t have time to sit with yourself and feel. But trauma stays alive when you avoid dealing with it.” She noted that talking about yourself causes your brain to reward you with dopamine, which provides temporary relief from pain. However, constantly talking also prevents people from addressing and managing their trauma.
How to Help a Child or Teen Who Excessively Talks
Atherton noted that helping children who are just starting to develop communication skills differs from treating teenagers, who are trying to master social skills. Nevertheless, she found the following tips benefit both children and teens:
1. Teach them healthy communication skills
Atherton found that observing people talk and seeing how others react to their behavior is a useful way for children and teens to learn healthy communication skills. You can then reflect on these behaviors with your children and decide which behaviors provide good alternatives to excessive talking.
“I tell the young adults I work with, ‘Okay, you’re going to be a sociologist and watch how people interact. You’ll take objective statements of what you see and then we’ll come back to my office and analyze them’” she stated. “It’s a great way to get kids to really look at other people, see how they’re engaging, and then practice what they found works.”
Some of the most effective communication skills include:
Active listening involves being fully present in a conversation by observing verbal and nonverbal cues in others to understand what people are communicating. This makes others feel heard and valued while the listener becomes immersed in the conversation without talking so much. Effective active listening techniques include:
- Pause and respond: Teaching your teen or child when talking to them to take a moment to pause and collect their thoughts before speaking gives them time to process their emotions and respond appropriately. This keeps excessive talkers from impulsively saying inappropriate things or going off-topic. It also provides time to reflect on what other people may be feeling, allowing teens to adjust their speech and show empathy.
- Paraphrasing: Paraphrasing involves summarizing what another person has just said. This gives the other person a chance to clarify what they meant or confirm what they said. It also reveals they were being listened to, making them feel valued.
- Asking questions: Rather than moving to a different topic or talking about themselves all the time, asking questions shows interest in the current conversation and the other person’s thoughts. Asking open-ended questions like, “Can you tell me more about that?” or “What did you think about that?” also keeps the conversation flowing and keeps one person from dominating the conversation.
- Paying attention to social questions: Social questions are designed to spark conversations and help to know others better. They can be anything from “What is your favorite type of music?” to “Do you have any siblings?” By being willing to respond to and ask social questions, children and teens help create more of the healthy back-and-forth in a conversation rather than engaging in excessive talking.
2. Teach them mindfulness skills
Regularly pausing to self-reflect and practice mindfulness keeps teens aware of their own behavior and how others are acting in their presence. Realizing they may be interrupting others helps them know when to let others speak. Likewise, noticing that people are looking at their phones or not maintaining eye contact when they overtalk helps reveal how their excessive talking affects others.
3. Practice healthy silence every day
Helping children and teens become comfortable with silence is an effective way to manage overtalking. Atherton suggested making silence a game by asking children how long they can wait until they need to speak. This might start with a period of three to five minutes and gradually work up to fifteen to twenty minutes of quiet time. This time can be used in healthy, productive ways — such as self-reflection or meditation — and shows children and teens they can control their overtalking tendencies.
4. Seek therapy and treatment if needed
If excessive talking is having a negative impact on your child or teen’s social life, work, schooling, or family relationships, finding a therapist through the Psychology Today search tool is beneficial. A therapist can help uncover the underlying reason for your child’s overtalking and come up with a treatment plan to address any mental health issues.
“Cognitive behavioral therapy helps treat anxiety and ADHD,” noted Atherton. “And dialectical behavioral therapy helps treat narcissistic personality disorder because it focuses on gaining emotional control and emotion regulation skills. This helps with the lack of self-esteem someone with NPD is overcompensating for.”
Coping Strategies for Parents
Dealing with excessive talking is challenging not only for your child and teen but also for you. Atherton encouraged parents and caregivers to take time for themselves by practicing self-care and keeping themselves grounded. Adopting the coping strategies listed below helps keep you at your best for your children and yourself.
While it is important to schedule regular quality time with your child when you can give them your uninterrupted attention, Atherton stated this should come with time limits to keep you from becoming overwhelmed.
“If it gets to a point where your teen just won’t stop talking, you can excuse yourself,” she said. “Let them know, ‘Hey, it’s important to me to let you have space to say these things, but I have to go. Let’s catch up later.’ Set boundaries.”
Choose what to engage with
Atherton stated that stating ground rules with your child on how you will respond to certain situations or what conversation topics are off-limits is useful when choosing what to engage with. Knowing how their parent will respond if a teen begins oversharing information or talking about inappropriate subjects — and understanding that such behavior has already been established as unsuitable — makes managing difficult situations easier.
Create no-talk zones and quiet spaces
Atherton suggested that children and teens be allowed to create their own no-talk zones and quiet spaces in the house. Creating comfortable zones where they can sit in silence and practice healthy quiet activities lets them manage their own excessive talking behavior. No-talk zones extend outside the house in places like the car or quiet workspaces like the library.
While therapy can be an effective way of treating excessive talking in your children, having your own therapist provides you with a much-needed outlet to express yourself. After listening to your children and teens talk for hours, it’s very healthy to be able to share your own frustrations, thoughts, and concerns in a safe space.
Excessive Talking: Wrapup
Dealing with your child or teen’s excessive talking is challenging. Once you recognize that overtalking is often a symptom of a larger mental health issue, you need to understand what specific disorder is causing this behavior in your child. By uncovering this core reason, you can work with mental health professionals to teach your child effective communication skills. Meanwhile, it’s important to practice coping strategies so you can be at your best when handling issues with excessive talking.
“It can be frustrating and lonely when your child or teen is talking at you,” acknowledged Atherton. “So be sure to have an outlet for yourself. These are things that can be addressed, so there is hope. It’s just going to take diligence and patience. So, hang in there.”
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