Teens begin developing their individual identities during adolescence, including their conversational styles. Some teenagers might delight in monopolizing a conversation, while others appear more shy or withdrawn. Parents can encourage shyer teens to participate in conversation by asking direct, open-ended questions or tone down talkativeness by setting dinner table sharing rules or limiting phone time.
Technology and Gender
Technology might compel some teens to become more talkative than others, according to Researcher Joanne Davila in a 2009 study involving 83 girls. Cellphones and social networking sites could encourage girls to converge for mega-sharing sessions. Davila found that too much negative discussion, especially discussion that is repetitive, can negatively impact a teenager’s emotional health. Talking through problems can be positive and productive when chats are solution-oriented, but lengthy whining sessions can have the opposite effect. Sharing with friends can also enhance intimacy and self-esteem, according to a 2008 New York Times article, “Girl Talk Has Its Limits.” In a 2011 University of Missouri study, researchers found that boys often view gabfests negatively, describing them as “weird” or “wasting time.”
Some teens might focus their talkative natures on gossip and rumors. Although mild gossip isn’t an unusual adolescent activity, rumors or unkind gossip fall into the category of verbal abuse, according to Band Back Together. Teens might talk about a peer’s family, behavior or attitude. Parents should intervene when teens talk negatively about other individuals, form cliquey alliances based on gossip, attempt to socially isolate others through rumors or gossip or whisper in front of peers. Too much negative talk can indicate a teen’s personal insecurities, so parents can ask their teen why she feels compelled to participate. Social insecurity can hurt academic performance.
Childhood shyness is fairly common, which explains why some teens might talk more than others, according to HealthyChildren.org. Social situations and meeting new people can make some adolescents feel tongue-tied. Others might wait for someone else to make the first conversational move, or feel more comfortable listening to a gabbier friend. If shyness persists into later adolescence or adulthood, without your teen learning to become more talkative, this could lead to withdrawal and avoiding social situations. Parents who feel their teen might not be talking because of an anxiety disorder should contact a therapist or doctor.
Parents can deal with talkative teens by gently interrupting and steering the conversation back to include everyone. Discourage teens from interrupting others, however. Confronting a talkative teen to share concerns about monopolizing a conversation can be effective, but hold the discussion in private to avoid embarrassment, according to Youth Leaders Academy. You can also set rules for shared conversation; for example, allow your talkative teen to share just three events from her school day at the dinner table so that her siblings can get a word in edgewise.
- HealthyChildren.org: Shyness in Children
- Band Back Together.com: What Are Rumors?
- New York Times: Weaning Teenagers Off Gossip, for One Hour at a Time
- The Escapist Magazine: Science Discovers That Teenage Girls Talk Too Much
- The New York Times: Girl Talk Has Its Limits
- University of Missouri: Males Believe Discussing Problems is a Waste of Time, Study Shows
- Youth Leaders Academy: Dealing with the Talkative Teen in Your Small Group
- Reader's Digest.com: A Get-Along Guide for Parents of Teens
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