7Yo 3Rd Grader Is Getting in Trouble for Talking and Interrupting in Class

Updated on March 08, 2017
J.G. asks from Atlanta, GA
17 answers

My 7yo who is currently a 3rd grader because he started school early is constantly getting in trouble for talking and interrupting in class. We have tried everything to change this behavior and have even talked to the teacher who let us know that he is not being disrespectful however he is always talking and when she catches him he always says "it wasn't me". It is completely driving us crazy and we are not sure what else to do to change this behavior. I have sat in on a class session and because I was there he was the best student, the next day he received another bad report. I did notice that when I was there, the class seemed a little out of control for my taste HOWEVER I do not want to blame that as my son needs to learn how to conduct himself in any environment. HELP as I feel like all we ever talk about now at home is the fact that my son is not doing what he is supposed to do in class. Academically he is super smart and right where he is supposed to be for a 3rd grader but the talking..OMG. I do have to say I was a talker growing up and so was my daughter who is now in 7th grade. By the 4th grade she learned that if she didn't be quiet she would never get a principal honors award for straight A's because she kept getting B's in conduct........what do I do?

ETA: He will be 8yo in June.

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So What Happened?

Thank you all for your input on this post. I am really taking in everything that was suggested. As for the decision to start him early, that wasn't the easiest decision for us but my mother helped raise him along with my husband and I until kindergarten and that one on one plus what we did at home with him really got him to the point where we felt like he was ready. Both of my children are very social so they will talk your ear off and he really has been doing great until this school/class but again I am the type of person that looks within before suggesting that someone else is at fault. They have moved his seat, they have sent him to another classroom for a few moments which I hate because he is missing lessons. I am hoping that this too shall pass but unfortunately I cannot get pass that we may be doing something wrong. I have asked him why does he act this way in class and he said because he has new friends and he wants to talk to them. Thanks again everyone....so glad I found this site. Keep the suggestions coming please.

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M.D.

answers from Pittsburgh on

I'm all for supporting teachers. I am. But, in my opinion, there is nothing you can do in this situation. The teacher needs to handle this.

ETA: I don't want to totally skip over praising him for good behavior. That's always a good thing. But at this age, immediate feedback always works better than delayed rewards/consequences. Thus, my reasoning for why the teacher needs to handle it. If you are working with her, can you make any suggestions (is she the kind of teacher who would take them)? My little one finishes his work quickly then gets off task (singing to himself, talking to others, etc) which is very distracting to others in the classroom. His teacher had a special "look" for him (she looked at him with one eyebrow up) and it was their signal for "don't forget that you need to be quiet". She could do it from across the room and it reminded him of classroom rules right away, and only if he ignored their special signal would she move him from "green" to "yellow" on his behavior chart. Has she tried any strategies like this?

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N.B.

answers from Oklahoma City on

Here's what you do. You let the teacher handle it. She needs you to allow HER to be his authority figure at school. SHE needs to give him instant consequences. It does little good, if any at all, to give more consequences at home.

He needs her to catch him, dole out whatever her consequences are, then move on. She does not need to keep telling you that he's doing this. SHE needs to handle it.

The sooner she learns this step the better off she'll be as a teacher. If she can't handle her classroom then she will have to go to her supervisors or other teachers to learn better skills.

Your son is young. Starting early isn't all that great for kids. Even if he was a genius he's socially still a much younger kid. If he's a young 7 then he'd still be in first grade, if he's almost 8 then he'd normally be in second grade. So he could be up to 2 years behind his classroom peers just because he started school early.

5-6 Kindergarten
6-7 First Grade
7-8 Second Grade
8-9 Third Grade
9-10 Fourth Grade, etc....

My point is that he's going to have some struggles. He doesn't need to be held back or anything like that, that isn't what I'm saying. What I'm saying is that knowing he's younger and will have social problems, like talking too much, are going to be NORMAL things for his age. He shouldn't even get in much trouble for this.

We develop along a pretty consistent line. He's 7 and 7 year old kids talk in situations that we don't always want them to talk. He's normal.

His teacher needs to address this in an appropriate manner and remind him that talking is not allowed during this or that time. They need to redirect him or channel him, perhaps the teacher can have him read a passage from their text or something. Keeping his talking directed in an appropriate way.

All in all, this is a school issue and one that you should redirect back to the teacher. When kiddo comes home with a note or something saying he's been talking in class you say "It must be hard to remember this. You need to work on this in the classroom, there are times in class when you need to use your ears and not your mouth". No punishment, no lectures, nothing. The teacher needs to manage consequences AT school. This has nothing to do with "home".

If she's really not capable to figure this out perhaps you can ask the district counselor to come in and observe her class so they can give her ideas on how to manage this. Ulterior motive would be that the counselor is observing the teacher and would be able to offer them some needed ideas in how to manage a classroom better.

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E.B.

answers from Honolulu on

My ds was in a very similar situation to yours. Bad reports about talking aloud in class, humming aloud, lots of efforts to help him stop. Nothing worked.

I knew my son was a visual learner. Audible signals or instruction didn't have the same effect (he sometimes didn't even realize he was talking out loud when he was engrossed in reading something).

So I gave the teacher a few index cards. On them were very brief phrases, like "Silence" or "No Talking Now", "Closed mouth, silent mouth" and things like that. Instead of speaking to him the teacher would walk past his desk and place one of those cards on his desk. Seeing them reminded him to close his mouth and he soon learned.

At home we developed a hand signal (open hand, then closing it like an orchestra conductor does to signal to the orchestra to stop).

Basically, visual cues worked.

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D.B.

answers from Boston on

This is the hazard in putting very young children ahead in school because of their academic ability. They are not where their classmates are socially. I understand the challenges of a gifted child being bored, but look at what this situation has turned into. Most of his classmates are 9, maybe 8 - and he's just 7. Huge difference.

Classroom management is entirely up to the school staff. Nothing - NOTHING - you say at 7:30 AM or 5 PM will have any impact on a child this young at 10 AM in a different environment. He is light years away from you.

I agree with some of the things said below about seating arrangements and using other cues (visual, tactile) vs. only auditory cues. But that's up to the teacher and any other staff (aides, learning specialists, psychologists) involved. Sitting in on the class is rarely useful, and it's entirely problematic because you are also observing other children and their issues (as their parents would be observing yours). And kids don't always behave the same way for observers/visitors as they do on a regular basis.

In my opinion, your son needs more immediate consequences for his behavior (not a discussion at home 6 hours later), a different type of intervention and redirection for the first "offense" of the day (and consequences for subsequent ones), perhaps different cues, and some help from the extended staff of the school. The teacher needs to "catch him being good" as well as catch him talking, and she needs to break up any problem social groups/pairings in the class as well as have something else for him to do when he's unable to control himself.

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G.♣.

answers from Springfield on

The only thing you can really do is remind him that it is a wonderful part of his personality that he is outgoing and social (and that really is true!). He does need to be respectful of the teacher and the other students - listen quietly while the teacher is talking, only talk when it is his turn or the teacher has said that the students may talk, etc. You could try rewarding him when he has a good day.

Beyond that, this is really on the teacher. The teacher needs to work out his/her own classroom management without involving the parents. The teacher needs to be an authority figure. The students need to respect the teacher, not fear that the teacher is going to tell mom/dad.

There is only so much you can do.

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C.B.

answers from San Francisco on

Maybe inviting one or two of his school friends over to play after school will help. That will give him the time to talk to his new friends when its appropriate to do so.

Also, have him practice. Make him sit in a chair and he cannot talk until he raises his hand and you acknowledge him. He needs to learn that you can't always say everything that pops into your head and you have to wait until you are called in before talking. Practice makes perfect!

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M.G.

answers from Portland on

I had a chatty one around the same age as yours. He was actually bored. He would finish his work and then chat. The teacher and I came up with a plan - she would give him extra projects to keep busy. He loved this. He was doing super well academically and he liked the challenge.

I worked with the teacher - it wasn't all left up to me. At home we just talked about being respectful. What got through to my child was that he was making it hard for other children to concentrate and learn. It wasn't fair. For him, that sank in. He didn't want to make life hard for his friends or his teacher.

The teacher was great and rewarded him when he did well. I did too - just praise for being considerate. We didn't go over the top but the teacher would send home positive notes when he had done well.

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R..

answers from San Antonio on

Children these days get surprisingly little time to actually talk with each other in school.

How about contacting one of these new friends mothers and arranging a play date for the weekend? Then make a deal with your son the he has to get no bad talking reports from school so many days during the week to keep the play date. Maybe two or three out of five at first then up the ante for another get together and make it four days then a whole week.

If he wants to talk with these friends maybe the chance to do so outside of school will help and be a great motivator for reward.
Good luck!!

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H.W.

answers from Portland on

Okay, while the management of the class is the teacher's work, you can augment those efforts by having a small reward for every day that he has a good report (or, not a 'bad' report). You can either do something small, like some extra media time, or have him earn something bigger, like 5 days of good reports means a small outing for a treat, choosing a favorite dvd/movie to watch as a family, or something else which is a motivator for your son.Let go of the daily conversations about "not talking" and praise him for the days he's able to stay on task (I would even go as far as to suggest you use that phrase, 'staying on task' instead of focusing on what he's 'not' doing with the chatter.)

We had similar challenges, my son has ADD-inattentive type, and had a really hard time with some of the same things. Distractions abound at school. Keep reinforcing the positive behavior and encourage him in his challenge with being quiet when he's supposed to. :)

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D.D.

answers from Boston on

This really isn't up to you to fix. The teacher is in charge of classroom behavior and events so I would remind him to listen to the teacher and follow the classroom rules and then let the teacher know that you are ok with whatever the punishment for his behavior will be. Your son will either figure out that he needs to close his mouth and be removed from the room but its really up to him to deal with.

I always had a rule that I didn't punish for things that happened at school because I wasn't there and didn't see it. I'd always remind the kids to listen to the teacher and follow the rules but once they were at school discipline for their behavior wasn't my responsibility.

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J.B.

answers from Boston on

My 12 year old is an incessant talker. FWIW he was recently diagnosed with ADHD and is on medication. It definitely helps with impulse control for him and has slowed down his motor mouth a bit, and allows the filter between his brain and his mouth to work so he's less likely to just blurt out every thought that comes into his head, stream-of-consciousness style. Just something to keep in mind.

Anyway...when this child was in 1st grade his talking in school was non-stop. I picked up a copy of the book "The Kadzin Method for Parenting your Defiant Child" at the recommendation of a psychiatrist. It had a very helpful, very clearly explained method for turning around a problem behavior. Basically, behavioral psychology 101. We used this to tackle the talking and was quite effective. In a nutshell, we set up a point-reward system. He could earn as many as 12 points a day (0-3 points each before school, AM school, PM school and evening). With 10 points, he got a small reward like 15 minutes on the iPad. With 50 points, he earned a bigger reward like picking where we went for dinner on Friday night or going out for ice cream or extra time at the park. His teacher filled out a little note card that I sent in, giving him 0-3 points for the morning and afternoon depending on how many times she needed to remind him to lower his voice and not talk out of turn. We followed this for about 3 weeks and it was long enough to curb his habit of talking relentlessly. He was still naturally chatty and opinionated and loud, but a reminder could keep him on track for a while.

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C.T.

answers from Santa Fe on

This is a common problem in classrooms! What has the teacher done about it? Many teachers have a hand signal that means no talking. Usually they change where the talker sits...to put them with kids that are not their close friends. Or they reward a kid at the end of the day if they did what they were told (one teacher would hand out two gummi bears at the end of the day each day to the kids who were good). Or they write the kid up...give out a pink slip or a yellow slip or whatever system is in place to warn the child breaking the rules. Or they have that child go sit in the hall for 5 minutes or something. What does your son's teacher do? I'm not sure what you can do except talk to your son about it at home and support the teacher.

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J.J.

answers from Buffalo on

I don't know if this has been tried, but rearranging seating usually helps. I've noticed the "new" way of seating tends to be in groups or circles. This just encourages kids to talk and adds to the out of control atmosphere. When I was a kid, we sat in rows and a lot of the more traditional private schools and charter schools to the same. We rarely had problems with kids talking because they would have to turn around in a front facing desk.
In any event, the teacher should rearrange his seat next to some girls or others that he has no interest in talking to. Either that, or his chair should be up next to the teacher where she can give him reminders.

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A.J.

answers from Austin on

Continue to encourage your son to respect his teacher as an authority figure. Are there consequences taken by the teacher at school? Sometimes parents want to see the gold stars but get upset when they find out that little Johnny is sitting out part of recess for his behavior in class. By all means it sounds like this teacher may need to up her class management for talkative students, (extra work is a GREAT idea, reasonable clear instructions on what to do after assignment is finished, etc) since this can be managed. Just don't undermine the school's/teachers way of handling it, as long as she is utilizing the best teaching/class management practices. Just a thought.

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C.C.

answers from New York on

I think it's just normal and developmental due to his age - and it might be worth reminding his teachers about that.

These challenges will continue. For example, your DS will be 10 years old for the whole year of 6th grade...in many areas that is the beginning of middle school...academically rigorous but also socially a time when the other boys will be preteens starting puberty etc.

It is great if your son is a good fit academically for these grade levels, but teachers should be handling his behavior in an age-appropriate way. (As a more extreme example than your son - a 5-year-old prodigy in 3rd grade could not reasonably be expected to socially behave like a 9-year-old simply because he is smart enough to do 3rd grade math problems etc.) If your son's current teacher needs tips on "how to control a 7-year-old in the classroom", maybe she could ask the 1st grade teacher for some ideas.

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B.C.

answers from Norfolk on

There's a time and place for everything.
The time for him to talk is NOT when he should be listening to the teacher.
He needs to learn to listen and save his socializing for lunch, recess, or other more appropriate times.

Sometimes being super smart can be a problem when they get bored or finished with their work ahead of the rest of the class.
With our son, he always had a book on him.
He asked the teacher if he could read if he finished his work early - and his teachers never had a problem with it.

You have to tell him that he's not the only student in the room and his talking out of turn is getting in the way of other kids learning.
He'd be upset if someone else was getting in his way.
It's just polite and the proper thing to do to get his talking under control.
It may be a work in progress for awhile, but school starts ramping up in 3rd and 4th grade and the sooner he learns to curb his tongue - the better off everyone will be.

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S.H.

answers from Santa Barbara on

When will he be 8? This makes a difference in how i answer. Did he turn 7 last month, or will be 8 years old before July?

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