Alexa has a tendency to go on and on about herself, her things and doesn’t leave room for anyone else to comment because she just keeps talking.
Sam always talks about the same thing over and over – Minecraft. When the other kids are talking about a class project, Sam offers a comment about Minecraft instead of the topic at hand.
Becky is afraid to ask questions in class because she is afraid that her questions will be seen as stupid by her classmates.
Dan is always interrupting. He interrupts his parents when they are talking, he interrupts his teacher and he interrupts his friends. Many in his life are frustrated with his constant interruptions.
Sometimes, speaking impulsively without any sort of filter can cause more than just embarrassment – it can cause hurt feelings and lead to unwanted conflict. Learning to think before speaking is a crucial social skill used in all aspects of life.
The lady in the red dress at the supermarket is most likely not feeling too good about herself and Johnny’s mom is probably mortified. Alexa is going to have a hard time maintaining friendships if all conversations are all about her. Minecraft is certainly a fun and favored game by many, but there is a time and a place for it. Classmates may end up giving Sam the hairy eyeball and Sam may not realize why. Becky may miss out on learning the lesson at hand if she doesn’t feel she can ask questions. Like Alexa, Dan may have a hard time holding onto friendships too.
T-H-I-N-K Before Impulsive Speaking
The acronym in the image above is a helpful tool to help kids like Johnny or Alexa, maybe even Dan. To avoid hurt feelings, teach children to think before they speak using the acronym.
T – is it true?
H – is it helpful?
I – is it inspiring?
N – is it necessary?
K – is it kind?
Pause Before Impulsive Speaking
Andrea D. Cherry, M.Ed of Navigating Behavior Solutions, shares the following self directed questions children can ask themselves before they speak. Cherry advises to teach children that it is okay to stop or pause before speaking and take that moment to consider the following:
Is my comment or question on topic?
YES- consider sharing it;
NO- filter and wait for an appropriate time to change the topic or share your information.
Are my words or thoughts friendly and helpful?
YES- then absolutely share them;
NO- use your social filter in your brain to filter them away- do not share them
Are my words truthful?
Yes- share. Friendships are built on trust and honesty;
NO- filter- lies will crumble your friendships. Friends won’t know what to believe or if they can trust you
Do my words show that I am interested in the other person?
Yes- make the connection comment or ask the question to show interest;
NO- if the comment or question steers the conversation to your interests, you need to filter and practice using your social fake skills
Do my words help bring the group together?
YES- keep asking questions to gain more information and then use to build a group plan or win-win compromise;
NO- filter and start asking questions that generate the groups ideas.
Is my question a smart question?
YES- I have looked for the answer myself in two different locations and still do not know the answer and can not not make a smart guess- ask the question;
NO- look for the answer in two books and use you brain to make a smart guess.
Observe for Reactions
Teach children to use their eyes to watch others for reactions.
If they are smiling and nodding then my words and questions are expected.
If others laugh or they look confused or even upset, then my comments and questions are unexpected and I need to start filtering.
Resourceful Social Stories for Impulsive Speaking
Julia Cook, a former school counselor and teacher, has published over 50 books addressing common behavioral isms children are dealing with. Below are three of Cook’s books that just may be a resource for the kids mentioned above.
I Can’t Believe You Said That teaches kids to learn how to use a social filter. A resourceful social story for Johnny.
Wilma Jean the Worry Machine is also a workbook with wonderful tools for kids who experience anxiety. This would be a fantastic social story for Becky who is afraid to ask questions in class.
My Mouth is a Volcano and it’s accompanying workbook full of activities is a wonderful social story that teaches kids tools to prevent them from interrupting. This would be a good story for Dan.
Other resourceful social stories include:
Lacey Walker, Non Stop Talker by Christianne C. Jones would serve as an insightful resource for Alexa who has a tendency to go on and on about herself. A case of laryngitis puts a halt on all that talking and Lacey learns the benefits of listening to her peers.
What Does it Mean to Be Present by Rana DiOrio is a wonderful book about being present and aware of all that we do, all the time. This may serve as a good social story for Sam – maybe he can step out of his own head and learn the benefits of being in the moment.
Depending upon the social ism a child is struggling with, practice T-H-I-N-K in each and every social situation. Take Cherry’s suggestions and print them on a cue care for kids to carry in their pockets. Head to the library or search Amazon for a story that addresses your child’s specific challenge. Impulsive speaking can be curbed with a bit of effort and training.