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Is Your Kid Talking to Himself? When to Worry

When your kid first learns to talk, it’s one of the most exciting things you experience as a parent. After a few years, some of them can become real chatterboxes. Some kids have entire conversations with themselves.

You may have noticed your child having conversations with himself. These can range from a few quick, murmured words to extended chats that seem to go on at length.

Should this worry you? In most cases, it shouldn’t. There are several reasons children talk to themselves.

He Might Have a Lot on His Mind

Is your child involved in many activities? Does he have a full schedule of school and after-school activities? He might talk to himself to keep himself organized and on track.

You probably do it yourself. Have you ever said to yourself, “OK, first I need to go to the store, wait, do not let me forget my phone..?” If you’ve ever had that conversation with yourself, and most of us have, you know exactly what your kid is doing.

If your kid is running around from school to play to sports, he’s probably just organizing his day in his mind. It’s a way to pump himself up and stay on track.

She Might Have a Creative Imagination

Children have vivid imaginations, and they’re still learning about the world around them. They’re able to invent imaginary worlds as young as three years old. A color, an animal, a fruit or something else that’s new to them can set off a chain reaction of creative ideas. They can invent entire stories around a simple concept or picture.

Have you ever seen your child totally wrapped up in an imaginary landscape or an illustration of a fictional town? Some children can stare at these pictures for hours as they make up stories about the people or creatures living there. They might even murmur these stories out loud.

It’s a Way To Reinforce Learning

When children learn or see something new, their response is to fit it into what they already know. This usually involves making mental notes about the new thing. Many kids do this aloud. Talking to themselves is a way to make sense of what they’re seeing and reinforce their learning.

He Might Have an Imaginary Friend

Many children have imaginary friends. This is a normal part of growing up. Parents used to worry that an imaginary friend meant their child was lonely or wanted a new sibling, but new research shows those theories aren’t true. In fact, children with imaginary friends are more sociable, more creative and better able to deal with stress than other children.

Most children drop their imaginary friends in favor of real ones around the age of nine. In some cases, an imaginary friend can hang around into the teen years. There are even some adults who admit they have imaginary friends.

Experts say it’s fine to acknowledge your child’s imaginary friend, but let your child determine how much interaction you should have with their invisible pal. Don’t ask too many questions or act as if you’re trying to interfere with the friendship. Children should have full control of their imaginary world and its imaginary characters.

Should You Do Anything About It?

Talking to ourselves is normal and healthy. In an interview with NBC News, psychologist Jessica Nicolosi said, “If we speak out loud, it forces us to slow down our thoughts and process them differently because we engage the language centers of our brain. By talking to ourselves we become more deliberate, and this creates a slower process to think, feel and act instead of being bombarded by our thoughts.”

We all talk to ourselves. If your child is doing it, it’s just part of what makes her human.

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