Almost 4 Year Old NEVER Stops Talking in the Car!

Updated on February 02, 2011
K.M. asks from Englewood, CO
25 answers

Hi Mamas, my almost 4 year old son will never stop talking to me in the car. This is turning into a huge problem for me. We live up in the mountains and I commute about 45 minutes each way to my boy's day care and my work. On snow days, this can turn into 1.5 hours each way. We have to leave the house at 6:15 am. My oldest just will NOT be quiet. This morning it was a steady stream of "Mama? I have to wear a heavy coat today, right? Why mama? It's cold our, right Mama? Did daddy have to wear a heavy coat? Mama? MAMA? DID DADDY HAVE TO WEAR A HEAVY COAT MAMA? Eetc." Non stop. It is 6:15am, the road is a sheet of ice, there's low visibility, and I cannot deal with an hour of chatterboxing. This morning, it was so cold the video player wouldn't even work so I didn't have that easy way out. Does anyone have suggestions? I love my little guy with all my heart but just cannot deal with this issue. I just want to scream when he starts in.

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So What Happened?

Wow, moms, thank you! What great ideas and responses. I was expecting at least 1 or 2 "well, if you would be a SAHM like you are supposed to be . .. " comments but there were none. It was so reassuring that i'm not the only one "suffering" and I'm going to try many of the solutions you suggested. His 4th birthday is February 14 and I'm thinking hand-held game device for the car only! I will also talk WITH him more and get some kids books on CD. Thank you ladies!

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answers from Denver on

So funny. I thought I was just such an introvert that the incessant talking was driving me nuts! The best think for us was books on tape - we like the Magic Treehouse series. You can buy the CDs with the books or online.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

We sing in the car to stop that ... and I have explained and have to sometimes many times that it is not safe for mommy to be talking/distracted in the car ... overall once he started singing with me in the car he has calmed down on the chatterboxing.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

My son is almost 5 and we have that problem at times (although his school is only 5 minutes away). Kids music or kids stories on tape are a good idea. I do tell my son he I can't talk to him right now because I need to pay attention to the driving/traffic. He is starting to get it after over a year of me saying it.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Portland on

I have one of these, and even when I'm at home, trying to have a conversation with my husband or even THINKING about dinner, it's tough. I sometimes have to shoo everyone out of the kitchen, because even my husband will be yapping at me while I'm trying to plan a meal or cook without destroying dinner. :)

One magic--yes, magic-- thing that works for me is simply telling my son that I'm going to be all done talking for now. Here's what it looks like:

Son (almost 3): "Blah blah blah-de-blah blah?" etc.
ME: "I need to be thinking about dinner now, so I can't really talk with you. So if you talk to me, I'm not going to answer, because I need to pay attention to what I'm doing.And I will talk with you when I am finished."
Son: (not believing me at first) More "blah blah blah?" He tries lots of questions to engage me. I pretend he is the wind, something passing by but utterly inconsequential. More "blah blah". Ignoring continues.

After about 5-10 minutes (yep, it sometimes takes that long) I hear nothing but silence. He got the message!

The magic trick is to NOT GET HOOKED IN. When they ask the same question 20 times, ignore it. You will have to practice this a lot before you don't want to scream at him, believe me. The practice of ignoring the child when we say we are going to is OUR discipline. I use this technique during our daily Quiet Book Time, when he'd rather engage with me than stay on his bed and look at books or play quietly. I just pretend he's not being completely annoying.:) It's work, but eventually it will take less and less time for them to come around, and when you say "This is a quiet time, because I need to be looking at the road to keep us safe, so I am not talking. I will tell you when I'm ready to talk again" it will become a great example, modeled by you!

And for what it's worth, I believe children at this age are going through a stage of development where they are practicing *how* to ask/form questions. If you notice, they often don't care about the answers. It's more the work of structuring the question correctly, grammatically, etc. that they go through phases of. It happens with every kid, and while I believe they get some measure of knowledge (I test this with my son by asking the same question back:"Hmmm.. Why do *you* think the puddle turned to ice?"), I do think much of this is language development.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Lynchburg on

Dear Kathi-

I feel your pain! Years ago, one of my twins was in a pediatric re hab hospital for a LONG time...and her 6 sibs and I would ALL make the trip in to DC saturday and sunday to spend the day with her. (they were 7 and under at the time...OY!!!) solution was 'show tunes'! I got all my favorites on tape (yes...that long ago) and I would BLAST and sing along myself...I often wished for a plexi glass piece behind me (like a chauffer (sp?) so I could slide it closed!

One visit...they had a party for kids in the hospital...and all got a kazoo in their goody bag. The then 60 minute trip home was perhaps the
L O N G E S T of my life!!

The good news is, I survived...AND my kids know ALL the old

Take Care

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

When I read your title I couldn't help but laugh a little. My son was a LATE talker. In fact, he started speech at 18 months old because he wasn't saying any words. He didn't really start talking in sentences and having conversation until he was about 3. Now he is 5, still in speech and a major chatterbox. When I would stress over his lack of talking everyone kept telling me "just wait because once he starts talking you will not be able to shut him up!" Boy is that ever true! Although for me I love hearing him talk but that's just me. maybe it's because I waited so long to have a conversation with him =-)

Anyway I've heard ppl do the "Who can stay quiet the longest" game. That always seems to be a hit for most kids.

How about trying books on tape too. My son loves those in the car.

Best of luck with your little chatterbox!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Nashville on

Awww! LOL I have a 4 1/2yr old son, too. They are definitely chatterboxes at this age. Well, my only suggestion is a handheld game system. Mine got the Fisher Price IXL for xmas and he ADORES IT!!!!!!! check it out. =0) Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

My son is now almost 8, but his DS saved me QUITE a few splitting headaches! LOL
Do you have any story CDs you can play in the car? That usually worked for us.
(Don't you wonder how school bus drivers even FUNCTION? Imagine 50 of them behind you!)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

An ipod has been a lifesaver for us.

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answers from Dallas on

Oh man! I have no suggestions for you, because when my 4-year-old is driving us crazy with his chatterbox going 90mph, we get in the car and take a drive. This is the ONLY time he is quiet!! Ha!!!

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answers from Boston on

We play "the quiet game" and see who can be quiet the longest. Whoever makes noise first (even coughing or sneezing can count, depending on how tough we want to make the game) loses. Then we start over again. We keep track of the longest times ("did I beat the record mummy?!") and if I'm lucky, they fall asleep from being quiet LOL. This works with anywhere from 1 of my kids to all 4, and we've played with kids as young as 2.

Try to give him things to figure out...words to spell, see how high he can count, count signs, look for things (the letter "a" on signs and billboards, or red fences, or blue cars, etc.). You still won't get an hour of peace and quiet but if he has something to think about, that will cut down on how much talking he can fit in.

Bring a travel etch-a-sketch or magna-doodle and let him draw. Give him things like a Rubik's cube or other non-mess toys to occupy himself.

And keep in mind that when he's 12, you'll be wondering what he's thinking and will hang on every rare word he says so that you can get some glimpse into his life.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

Please recognize that at 4 it is normal (whatever that is) for a child to begin questioning everything, why the blue, why the grass is green, where does snow come from, etc....
Your little guys mind is expanding, he is growing up. Yet chattering in the car constantly can be a distraction, so I would suggest sharing with him that because you as the driver, that you must concentrate on the road, especially in the Mtns, as there is lots of wildlife/animals that can cross the road real quick, and you don't want to hit them........ and if the conditions are snowy and icy, you have to watch for wildlife and focus your attention on driving to keep them safe. So " honey I love you and want to answer all of your questions, but cannot do so while driving the car. So I really really need you to stay quiet so that I can concentrate on driving and keeping us safe."

Much more positive response than " Honey your driving me bonkers, can you please just shut-up." But remember because you must concentrate on driving and ask him to be quiet, you too must be a role model and practice the same act of being quiet----so turn off the cell phone until after he is dropped off.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Miami on

I keep a tape with disney songs my daughter could sing with me. She got motion sickness so we couldnt bring books but I understand others parents did. What I found worked well was a kids book on tape. It told a story he could listen to. But beyond that yes my child talked and talked and talked and still does till this day. But you know what we will miss it when they go off tocolledge and all is quiet.



answers from Raleigh on

It's definitely a 4 yo thing. My son talks non-stop in the car. Actually, he talks non-stop period. I have just gotten used to it. Luckily, I only have 10 minutes of it in the morning. Do you have some music he likes? My son likes The Beatles. So I crank it up and he will hush and listen (for a little while at least). That and he likes the little iXL gaming system he got for Christmas. That will keep his attention for a little while, too.
Hope this helps!



answers from Huntsville on

My 5 year old daughter is a chatterbox in the evenings when I pick her up! I'll be buckling her in, then say "ok I'm gonna get in now" and start to shut the door and she is STILL talking! haha

Sometimes I can tell her "let's have some quiet time" and sometimes tell her that I need to pay attention to my driving & the other cars (which is true, especially in the stop & go traffic off the interstate exit..)

She also has a LeapFrog Leapster Explorer. If she has that with her, it will keep her entertained!! (She also has a Fisher Price iXL, but seems to enjoy the Explorer more... not sure if it's the games she has or what...)

She also used to be good with me playing her favorite songs - she would sing along, with less talking haha



answers from Boston on

First of all, I'm so glad that no one gave you a hard time for asking this question.

Second of all, it might be worth investing in an iphone. I have one, and there are a million (free) apps that are great for the preschool set. My three year old will be quiet for a long time drawing on my phone. And then he won't outgrow it either - you just get new apps.

Good luck. I understand that sometimes you just want to hear yourself think.



answers from Charlotte on

My four year old son is the same way. Sometimes I ask him what sounds letters make since he is starting to read. So I'll ask him what sound does the letter T make and he will answer or he'll think about it. After a while, he gets bored of the what sound does the letter make questions and he decides to be quiet. Try directing the conversation away from the mindless chatter. That might make it more bearable.

Sometimes I simply tell him that mommy needs him to be quiet so I can drive. Or I will ask him what music he would like to listen to but be prepared to listen to children's music like Sesame Street over and over again.

Good luck with your little chatterbox.



answers from Denver on

I wish (oh, how I wish!) that I had the answer for you. Unfortunately, I got the same kind of kid.... Non-stop talking, even in the worst of conditions, and he just asks over and over (plus louder and louder) if you don't answer/acknowledge him *immediately*.
We can commiserate together! :)



answers from St. Cloud on

I know EXACTLY how you feel. You love 'em. You want to savor these moments because you know they may turn into teenagers who never want to talk, but at this point it's a safety issue!

I have to tell my kids to not talk to me when the road conditions require all of my attention. I HEAR you!!!! :)

We listen to CD's in the car. It's the only way I can keep them occupied. I adjust the speakers so it only comes out the back. Everyone is happy.

Hang in there! Spring is coming......someday! :)


answers from Houston on

I tell my son who is the same age as yours, that mommy needs quiet time to concentrate on the road otherwise we might crash.

We sometimes play the quiet game, if he can be nice and calm and quiet, then when we get to our distention, he gets a sticker or sucker or something. It usually works.


answers from Kansas City on

i think that must be a 4 year old thing lol. i have started teaching my son (this winter, mostly during snow storms!) that when the roads are bad it's not okay to be talking because it's not safe. that, and turn the blowers on really high and it kinda drowns him out :) of course, my commute is only about 20 minutes on the worst of days. you can't really expect a 4 year old to be quiet for 45 minutes, and definitely not 1.5 hours......maybe find a cd he would enjoy, to play. bring books? just some ideas.


answers from Sacramento on

Buy that kid an iPod! My husband's uncle bought our kids an iPod touch apiece, which I thought was totally insane, but WOW. The car is SILENT now! Load a couple of kid-friendly apps on there, a few movies, pair it up with some nice headphones, and you're good to go! ;) We took a long car trip recently (12+ hours, most of it through a white out blizzard) and darn if those iPods didn't keep both of my kids quiet and entertained so my husband could focus on keeping the car on the road.



answers from Chicago on

I'm so glad u asked this question...I loved the answers and will use them myself


answers from Albany on

I hate to suggest it, but maybe a Gameboy or something like it that he can ONLY use in the car.

Course, what if he drops it? Sigh

My kids love music in the car, even when they were that little.
I wonder why he doesn't fall asleep.

I hear ya, I hate those white knuckle drives home, spring's a-comin', I can just FEEL it!




answers from Boise on

I agree, try giving him questions to think about. It's less frustrating when it's not just idle chatter about coats and trees, etc. He sounds like a pretty smart kid, or at least that's what they say (that smart kids talk talk talk). I have 2 talk talk talkers and one who just doesn't know how yet, but I"m sure he'll be like his brothers. And the only way to get the oldest one to behave in the car is to ask him "how do you spell....." or "what's 2 +2?" Or play a rhyming game, I Spy, I'm thinking of an animal, what's the opposite of..., etc. And bonus, he'll learn stuff!

And at least that will give you a pause between his words :)

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