"My son talks non-stop. I cannot get him to shut up! Also, he says the most inappropriate things. Any advice?" --About.com forum member
Talking too much and blurting out whatever is on one’s mind (whether it is appropriate or not) is a common concern parents express. Kids with ADHD often have trouble inhibiting and controlling their responses. Instead, they may blurt out whatever first comes to mind without thinking through how their words may be received.
The impulsivity and hyperactivity associated with ADHD makes it tough to stop and think -- there is a lack of impulse control and filtering that can be quite off-putting to others, and quite difficult for the person with ADHD who ends up experiencing rejection as a result. Kids (and adults) with ADHD may also monopolize conversations and talk excessively, as you describe. One parent recently referred to it as "diarrhea of the mouth." It is like hyperactivity with words.
What are some ways to deal with these issues?
The first thing to do is talk with your child’s doctor. Kids with ADHD often have trouble with "too much behavior" -– too much talking, humming, noises, movement, fidgeting, wiggling, getting into things, etc. This overactivity and the constant struggle with self-control can be very frustrating for the child.
The next thing to do is sit down with your son when he is fairly focused and amenable to talking and problem-solving. Address the talking/blurting out issue with him and come up with a plan to reduce the excessive talking. Your son may be interested in setting up a reward system to help motivate this change in behavior.
Together with your son, come up with a signal you can give him to help increase his awareness of the times when he is talking too much -– perhaps the signal could be you placing your hand on his shoulder as a reminder to stop himself when he is going on and on. A physical signal like touching his 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 his shoulder or your finger to your lips, your son says either out loud or to himself, "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 him to develop this skill.
For the situations in which your son blurts out inappropriate things, teach him how to delay his 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 son frequent and immediate feedback about his behavior and let him know what he is doing well. Words of praise combined with strong incentives can be very powerful in motivating a change in behavior.