What to do when … A boy constantly talks even when asked to be quiet

View a list of all the problems covered in this series.

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The bane of almost every Brigade leader is the incessantly talkative boy who cannot be quieted even with dire threats.

There are several “versions” of the talkative boy:

  • The ‘wise-crack’ who makes humorous comments at inappropriate moments. Often these are innocent remarks but sometimes they can hurt if they ridicule another boy’s abilities or performance.
  • The ‘compulsive talker’ who thrives on chatter. For whatever reason, he can barely control himself and must engage in conversation with someone. Silence is a form of torture to him.
  • The ‘cynic’ who makes sarcastic and cutting remarks, usually only loud enough for those near him to hear. His negative attitude toward the group and its activities usually hide some other problem, perhaps low self-esteem.
  • The ‘know-it-all’ who can be counted on to say things like ” I’ve heard that story before” or “This is boring. I’ve heard all that stuff before.”

The successful Brigade leader handles these kinds of boys in several ways:

  1. Don’t lose control of yourself and lash out at these boys. By paying too much attention to the comments of the talkative boy, you actually reinforce negative behavior. You make more of the situation than it is worth. Ignore the comments as much as possible. If it disturbs other boys or encourages other boys to talk, calmly ask the boy to be quiet. After one or two more requests, ask the boy to leave the room (a leader should talk with him).

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For a story about a leader who didn’t stay calm click here or here for some more insights on difficult boys

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  1. In a private discussion, explain to the boy that his constant talking is hindering the group’s progress. Explain to him that this habit will have consequences on his friendships and his future opportunities as he grows.  Try to show him the consequences of his actions, but respect his feelings and motives. Avoid trying to make him feel guilty for what he has done. Your goal is to help him control his mouth.
  1. If a boy genuinely wants to be more quiet, but can’t help talking, offer your help to remind him. Agree on a signal that you can give when he is chattering (e.g. finger on your lips). When he has been quiet, compliment him and express your delight in his self-control. Let him know you are praying for him and that God will help him.
  1. The boy who displays more negative attitudes is one who needs a positive experience. Make him an ally, not an enemy. Find ways that he can contribute to the group e.g. an oral presentation of a topic, a task or position of responsibility, reading a Bible passage, participating in a skit. He may have a talent for public speaking that needs to be cultivated.

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This series was adapted from a resource that has been used by Brigade leaders for decades.

View a list of all the problems covered in this series.

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