Chatter, Chatter, Chatter
By Tricia Goyer
Non-stop, preschool chatter. It’s often a steady droning–an unstoppable flood of interrogation.
“Why do cows eat grass?”
“What makes a tree grow?”
Your ears ring. Your brain aches. How can I handle one more question?
Not to fear, help is HEAR! Errr . . . here! Below are four tips for dealing with your miniature motor-mouth.
1. Face it. Chatter Happens.
A child between the ages of three to five-years-old is often curious about life. Everything is new and exciting. His eyes have opened to this new, mysterious world and his limited level of speech has reached the point of real communication.
Realize that chatter is a sign of developing communication. While chatter cannot (and should not) be cut out completely, a child can learn there is a correct time and place for those many, many questions. (And 6:00 a.m. on Saturday is not one of those times!)
2. Don't Ignore the Unavoidable
At first, the questions are cute. But after a few hundred (or so) they can be annoying. Some moms attempt to simply ignore the babbling. You can do this only so long before your child’s exasperation level explodes, and she WILL demand a response.
Instead of ignoring your child, begin by providing simple answers. For example, if she asks, “Where does the food go after I eat?” instead of saying, “In your belly”–which will only lead to more questions–explain, in simple terms, how the digestive system works. Your child won’t be able to fully understand, but she will learn, and she will feel like you’re taking her questions seriously. (Note: Just don't be surprised if your four-year-old starts using words like “esophagus”!)
3. Use the Interrupt Rule.
One of the most common complaints of preschool chatter is the constant interruptions. To combat this, Gary Ezzo, founder of Growing Kids International, suggests teaching the “Interrupt Rule.” He explains it like this:
“When your children need to interrupt, have them rest their hand on your side or your shoulder and wait silently until you acknowledge them. They should not pull, tap or shake you for your attention. Rather, they should stand patiently with a hand on your side. This gesture beautifully displays respect for you and the one with whom you are speaking.”
Teach your child how to use the Interrupt Rule when you are talking to someone else, when you’re on the phone, reading a book or doing your homework. The best way to teach this is to “role play.” Pretend you’re talking on the phone and show your child how to approach you. Then wait ten or twenty seconds until you give his your attention. Reward his patience with praise and a warm hug.
When teaching the Interrupt Rule, also teach that if the child is not close enough to touch you (or should not touch you because of dirty hands!), to raise his hand or politely ask for your attention. Be sure to role-play this too. Believe me, kids will catch on . . . sometimes quicker than their moms!
4. Ask For Quiet Lips When Appropriate.
There will be times when it is appropriate to ask for “quiet lips.” But remember, during the normal course of the day, conversation should become as natural as eating and sleeping.
Don’t be afraid to chatter with your child. Talk about the signs of spring outside. Talk about friends and family members. Share favorite stories and songs. Mostly, think of your prattle as a wonderful tool for training. After all, this natural conversation creates line of communication that will benefit you both in years to come!
Okay, so here are your quick tips for the training the talkative.
- Give your child your full attention while she is talking. Focus on her eyes.
- Listen to his questions and answer them in a way that will teach him something new.
- Teach your child the “Interrupt Rule.”
- Ask for quiet lips when appropriate.
- Enjoy this new stage of sharing the world with your child. Remember, everything is new and excited and worthy of chattering about!