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Lori Gephart
Lori Gephart, Licensed Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 259
Experience:  Licensed Psychologist and Hypnotherapist 20 years of experience helping clients of all ages.
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Have a friend who is having to raise his

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Have a friend who is having to raise his great-granddaughter. From the monent she awakens in the morning until she goes to bed, she talks. Teacher says the child finishes all the teacher's sentences. The child is bright and very active. What would cause the excessive talking and can anything be done about it.

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I am sorry to hear about the problems your friend is experiencing with his great granddaughter. It can certainly be quite frustrating to experience this type of behavior. It is possible that she may be exhibiting symptoms of ADD or ADHD.

Attention Deficit Disorder can be characterized by the following symptoms of inattention which are present for at least six months:

  • Difficulty paying close attention to details or careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities.
  • Difficulty keeping attention on tasks or play activities.
  • Does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
  • Does not follow instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or work duties (not due to oppositional behavior or failure to understand instructions).
  • Difficulty organizing activities.
  • Avoids, dislikes, or doesn't want to do things that take sustained mental effort.
  • Loses things needed for tasks and activities (e.g. toys, school assignments, pencils, books, or tools).
  • Easily distracted.
  • Forgetfulness in daily activities.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is also characterized by the following symptoms of hyperactivity which are present for at least six months:

  • Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms.
  • Difficulty staying in seat when expected.
  • Restlessness, for children - running or climbing about when it is not appropriate.
  • Difficulty playing or enjoying leisure activities quietly.
  • Acts as if "driven by a motor" and is constantly "on the go."
  • Excessive talking.

Symptoms of impulsivity also include:

  • Blurting out answers before questions have been finished.
  • Difficulty waiting turns.
  • Interrupting or intruding on others.

The best course of action if your friend believes that the girl may have many of these symptoms is to have her evaluated by a psychologist. The psychologist will be able to evaluate and suggest a course of treatment that may include medication as well as psychotherapy to help with the symptoms.

If she does not seem to fit the description above, then this talking could be attention seeking. It has been called the law of the soggy potato chip in that if a child thinks that he has a choice between a soggy potato chip or no chip at all, he will choose the soggy chip. If the girl feels that she has the choice between negative attention through excessive talking or no attention at all, she will choose the negative attention and so she will talk excessively and/or act out until she gets it. The only way for this pattern to stop is to begin to catch the good behaviors and reward them with attention, and to calmly and matter of factly give consequences for the negative behaviors with as little attention as possible. A very good book on this subject is Win the Whining War & Other Skirmishes: A Family Peace Plan by Cynthia Whitham MSW. The more consistent this is implemented, the more secure the child will begin to feel and the more her behavior should improve. Keep in mind that any behavior that gets attention is likely to be repeated, so punishments should always be with as little attention as possible. I hope this answer is helpful. Please let me know if I can clarify further.

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