Q: My eight-year-old son gets good grades, but can’t stop talking in school. His teacher says he doesn’t respond to the strategies that usually curb chattiness. At home, I’ve tried taking privileges away, and have also offered rewards for appropriate behaviour.
A: Clearly, consequences are not teaching your son to stay quiet in school. I believe this is because your son isn’t really misbehaving; he’s behaving in a way that makes sense to him, but that disrupts the class. The trick to solving this problem is for you to determine the cause of all this talking; find out what your son gets from it. Perhaps he’s the kind of person who learns best by talking out his ideas. If that’s the case, you need to help him find another way to process his thoughts. Instead of checking in with a classmate, suggest that your son try writing out his thoughts; or maybe he could occasionally be permitted to share his ideas with the whole class.
Let the consequences for talking out of turn be handled at school and not at home. When you remove privileges, you are punishing your son — an approach that does not work, as you’ve already seen. And it isn’t going to help you or your son figure out a successful strategy for dealing with his impulse to chat.