Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Talking Excessively

Elementary School Expert Advice from Barbara Potts

Q: My eight-year-old nephew has been getting in trouble for talking at school. The school has a check system -- anytime a child doesn't follow the rules, he receives a check. The more checks a kid receives, the lower their conduct grade goes. By the end of the week he has a D or F in conduct because he cannot be quiet. Therefore, he is punished almost every weekend. There are times he will behave and receive an A or B -- only when he is really interested in going somewhere over the weekend. What can be done?

A: It sounds like the behavior system that is being used with your nephew is focused on the negative, with the emphasis on punishment and consequences. Suggest to his parents that they talk with the teacher about shifting the focus to the positive.

The fact that your nephew can control his talking when the reward is appealing enough to him suggests that a positive approach will work. The key will be to find rewards for which he is willing to consistently work.

Your nephew's parents should ask the teacher to send home a daily note (could be as simple as a check mark or a smiley face) to let them know how his day went. Many eight-year-olds (and your nephew may be one) need more immediate feedback on a daily basis instead of waiting until the end of the week. He is also old enough to help determine the rewards and consequences for his behavior; his parents can sit down with him and ask for what he is willing to work, as well as what consequences would be effective with him.

The key to any system like this is to enforce both the rewards and consequences consistently over a long period of time. Rewards don't have to cost money; a good day can earn extra computer time or a walk around the block with his parents; three good days in a week can earn having a friend over to play on the weekend. Appropriate consequences would be that he would not get computer time or have a friend over to play.

Your nephew's parents may also want to talk with the school counselor. She may be able to give your nephew some individual time or include him in a small group on good behavior.

More on: Expert Advice

Barbara Potts has worked as an elementary school counselor for many years. She has a BA in psychology from Wake Forest University, and an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


Special Books for the Kids You Love
Celebrate 20 years of sharing love to the moon and back with the anniversary edition of Guess How Much I Love You, one of the world’s best-loved picture books. Plus, search our Book Finder for more great book picks. Brought to you by Candlewick Press.

Vote Now for the Children's & Teen Choice Book Awards
Voting is open now through May 3 for the Children's and Teen Choice Book Awards — the only national book awards program where the winning author, illustrator, and books of the year are selected by young readers. Encourage your child to vote for his favorites today!

Top 10 Math & Science Apps for Your Whiz Kid
Looking for the best math and science apps for kids? Check out these cool apps for all ages, which will grow your child's love of the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math).

Registered for Kindergarten — Now What?
Wondering what to do now that you've signed your child up for kindergarten? Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks