My son recently returned from a weekend camping retreat with several other teens his age. With sleepy and tired speech he informed me that he’d had a great time and that nothing had gone wrong (always in my line up of questions). A short time later I phoned the gentleman who had been driver/counselor for the group over the weekend and asked him how things went, specifically for my son. He gave rather lukewarm comments and I knew that something wasn’t right. I pressed him a bit, fearing something dreadful. In the end he confessed that while nothing dreadful had occurred, my son did need to learn the “fine art of knowing when to shut up.” I probably should have been upset in some way, but in truth I just laughed. I know he’s right. I know my son has…
about 28 thoughts per minute and feels compelled to share each and every one of them. I know that the simple input of non-stop chatter from him can make me extraordinarily tired. I know all of that, and yet I love him still.
But I didn’t completely dismiss the comments. It prompted me to have yet another chat with my son about the fast pace of his brain, his generous spirit of sharing and his very social nature. But I also shared with him how it can impact the rest of us whose brains process in a more linear fashion…and how non-stop input can tire and even annoy us. It’s not personal. It’s not about him. It’s about input…ANY input that comes at us non-stop.
If you too, have an especially chatty child, you might want to share with this child the difficulty that the rest of us have in processing the many thoughts he or she so easily entertains. You might also want to start teaching this child the value of giving the world a little extra margin, a little extra transition time. You might even tell them that there is a special skill involved in having a thought and NOT sharing it. You might not like Sharon’s new outfit. You needn’t share it. You might have preferred mom had fixed something else for dinner. It wouldn’t hurt a thing to let that thought pass. It might even prolong the current cheery atmosphere.
As an assignment, have them practice NOT sharing 10 thoughts for one day, just for the experience of it. It’s a skill we all need to cultivate, but our impulsive sizzlers even more so. And a word of advice?…Try to share all of this with your child BEFORE someone says they need to learn the fine art of knowing when to shut up.
Have a wonderful, if chatty, evening.