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Monday, 18 January 2021
Repetitive Chatter (or Repetitive Signing) Print
Once my son began to eat a variety of foods at 17 months, he decided that he wanted to eat every waking second of his day and whether he was really hungry or not. He would sign and say "more" over and over all day long. In between signing and asking for "more" he would have tantrums to the point where he was either tantruming at my foot or asking for more non-stop, all day long...even when we were in the car or out shopping! He just would not stop. (a. 6mo, FC)

My son is extremely verbal for his age. Soon after he turned 2 years old, his language development sky-rocketed! I really began to notice his repetitive chatter when he was about 28 months old. He would be talking or singing ALL day long. I never seemed to have any peace and quiet in the house. At first when he would repeatedly show me something in his book, I thought, "How sweet, he wants to show me what he's interested in. He wants me to share in his joy!" Of course I would respond to him positively and try to add to the conversation, but after the tenth,...twentieth time, it's draining! Not only would he repeat his, "Look Mommy, it's _______!" while showing me his book, he would do this day after day, month after month!!! Immediately after we began working on attachment, this behavior diminished drastically. It still resurfaces when my son is anxious and now I am better able to distinguish if his repetitive chatter is genuinely due to excitement or if it's due to anxiety. (a. 4.5mo, FC)

My son talks NON STOP, but it's not conversational speech or questions. It's just identifying things and nonsense babble. He will say the name of an object over and over and over and over until I say, “Yes, that is a ____.” Sometimes my responses won't even stop him from repeating the word. (a. 7.5mo, FC)

I can always tell when we need to do an "attachment tune-up" because she starts this endless stream of "verifying questions." Since she is such an anxious kid, it's been hard for me to determine if this is an obsessive need to be SURE that what we said would happen will happen, or if it's just manipulation. Now that she's older, it definitely feels like manipulation. We're seeing a lot of this right now, since Mommy's spending so much time working on attachment with baby sister. Two nights ago, she actually stood in the hall outside my bedroom door while I was giving sister her bottle, and said, "Good night Mom, good night Mom, good night Mom,....." Now, my daughter was a good 45 minutes away from her bedtime, and she knows that I will start HER bed-time routine after sister is in bed, so this was just PURE manipulation! (10.5mo, FC)

I just finished watching a Nancy Thomas seminar on therapeutic parenting for children with attachment issues. Excessive chattering was referred to as "ancient water tortures"... the things that get under our skin that the kid does, and does, and does to drive us crazy so WE lose control. Children with attachment issues may have this symptom of an anxious attachment and what it does is 1. interrupt (one of the big tests that kids with attachment issues use to see if they are in charge...can they interrupt you?) 2. control (because their world was so out of control at one time that they feel the need to control it and be in charge so they feel safe...but a child who is in charge is NOT safe) and 3. to create white noise. Nothing that they are saying is particularly useful or adding to conversation. It's just making noise. The "white noise" allows the child to avoid thinking their thoughts and feeling their feelings. They have memories (on different levels) and feelings that don't make them feel safe and the white noise of their own chattering helps them avoid facing these thoughts and feelings.

If the excessive chattering is in fact a symptom of an anxious attachment, it will not just go away in time. You cannot treat the symptoms, you must treat the cause of the symptoms and that is the anxiety. If a child suffers from an anxious attachment, waiting it out will do more harm than good.

Of course excessive chattering can be "normal." I recall two very special little girls in my life, now teenagers. One was adopted at age 3 and talked non-stop. The other just talked non-stop. The two of them at once was very noisy. When the excessive chattering is a symptom of an anxious attachment it is over-the-top and very, very difficult if not impossible to stop using traditional methods. One day in the car I had both girls and I couldn't take it (knew nothing of RAD at the time) and announced that we were going to play the silent game. One chatty girl and I remained silent...this was a fun game! Second chatty girl who I did not know suffered from an anxious attachment lasted all of a split second...she could not stop even for fun. That's the difference...the intensity, frequency, duration of the symptom AND no regular corrective measures seem to work.

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