Little MacGyvers – Kids Who Talk to Themselves

clip_image002When I sit in my car, driving the kids to school or just on my way to the supermarket, I like watching people in their cars. Some funny people talk to themselves. Yes, I know it may look like they are on the phone, but I am talking about the crazy people that actually talk to themselves.

I call these people “MacGyvers”. Do you remember the TV series with this guy who was narrating the whole time? We heard his thoughts all the time wherever he went.

This happens to me a lot. I see people on the street moving their lips while they walk. As funny as it looks, these people have an advantage.

If you are concerned when your kids talk to themselves, rest assured they have an advantage over “normal” kids who do not talk to themselves.

A research done on young kids found that preschoolers perform better when they talk to themselves. The finding was that “78 percent of the children performed either the same or better on the performance task when speaking to themselves than when they were silent”.

The research found that telling kids to be quiet while they were learning was actually disturbing the kids’ natural “private speech” or “self talk” and limited their performance.

My son Tsoof is such a “MacGyver”. He talks all the time (and I do mean “all the time”). If he has an audience, cool, and if he does not have an audience, it makes no difference. His brain is so full of thoughts (and jokes and songs and musical notes and comedy skits and movies) that if he did not talk about them, he would probably blow up. He has taken “self talk” to the extreme. He is a wonderfully talented, funny, joyful kid but our friends say they do not think they could have survived living with him in the same house for more than two seconds.

Every time I hear this, I think about the special education kids I work with. Do they have a problem or is it just the reaction of the people around them, who cannot survive living with them in the same house (or class or playground)?

clip_image004If you take my son and put him in a different house, this will most likely be a formula to manufacture a “troubled child”. It would take less than a week for him to start thinking that something is wrong with him, when in fact, nothing is wrong with him, he is just an auditory kid, with a superior sound recording machine. He could not have been so talented without this ability (and without us being tolerant to his constant sound production).

Kids find natural ways to deal with to things in their life. If they are kinesthetic, they move a lot to help themselves think. If they are digital, they ask a lot of questions. If they are visual, they decorate their notebooks to make them look nicer, and if they are auditory, they talk to themselves to slow down and serialize their input. Auditory and digital kids are at a relative disadvantage, simply because there are not many of them in our society. Research about learning styles has found that there are only 20% people that are auditory, while kinesthetic are 40% and visual 40%. That research did not recognize the digital style, but estimates are that only 5% of the population are auditory-digital.

Being different is not a problem

Being only 20% of our society makes auditory kids a minority. If you have an auditory child and you feel they are different, you are right, but being different does not mean they have a problem. The problem starts not with the fact your kid is different but when they start thinking there is a problem with being different. As I have said before, when working with a troubled child, most of my work is dedicated to repairing the kid’s damaged self-image.

Talking to yourself is a very helpful technique for auditory people in general, but useful to deal with stress for everybody. It is almost the same as sitting on the therapist’s sofa and putting some order in the mess in your head.

So next time you are with yourself in the shower or after a hectic day at work, use the space and time to put some order into your life by talking to yourself, and when your kids ask about the noises coming from the shower, be proud to say you have been talking to yourself.

  • tina

    I talk to myself! – Good to know I’m not crazy!

  • Ronit Baras


    This is why you are so smart!


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  • Mary King

    I googled a question “why kids talk to themselves” and came across your site. I’m so glad I did. Your site has eased my mind. I clearly identified with you. My son now 10, talks to himself whether anyone is listening or not. And everything you stated he does too. His fourth grade teacher said he had focusing issues, short of saying he had ADD. But his math and reading scores were way up there.
    I was concerned about his talking, because my husband has a brother and cousin who are paranoid schizophrena. And I was afraid that my son was going down this path.
    As my son enters fifth grade I will be better prepared to handle any teachers comments about my son’s thinking aloud. I’ll tell them to look up “auditory child” on the internet and hopefully this will help enlighten them. And I will prepare my son for what’s coming ahead for him.
    Interestingly, my three other kids never did this, two of them hardly ever talk. But they are all great listeners. My 10 yr old is the last child at home.

  • Ronit Baras

    Hi Mary,

    I am happy you googled it. ( we have a joke at home, my 21 year old says “I will google it” for everything we talk about and she doesn’t know enough or wants to know more)

    Your son is probably an auditory kid. It is not a disease, like other people ( who expects everyone to do things the same way) think. It is a wonderful ability that can be highly developed.

    I wrote other articles about the communication styles and if you need more ammunition to be prepared for his teachers’ comments just search this site.

    I am happy it helped.
    If you need any more tips and ideas to help him excel with this style, ask, I will be happy to answer.

    Happy parenting

  • C.McKinney

    Thank You for sharing your insight. My daughter who is 11 talks to herself all the time. My sister makes fun of her for it and has tried to convince me that my daughter has a serious problem. I have worried about it for some time but I also know that my other sister used to do the same thing. It helps to see other comments from parents who are dealing with the same thing.

  • Ronit Baras

    C. Mckinney,

    I am glad you had the opportunity to read the information about auditory kids and save your daughter from your sister.
    She has no problem. I have one of them at home and have worked with so many of them, they are just perfect and if you let them be, they will be awesome kids.
    you can search the blog for all articles about auditory people and find ways to help your daughter excel with a bit more appreciation to her her style.

    I am glad reading other parents helps.

    Happy day

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  • Anjali Roy

    my daughter talks too much and talks to herself …..i was worried that may be there is a problem or she is wasting her energy but thanks to you ….for changing the way i think and also the way i deal with my daughter

  • ronitbaras

    Hi Anjali,

    I am happy you had a chance to read this post.
    I see many auditory kids that their parents are worried about this and their negative reaction only make things worse.
    We’ll all benefit from talking to ourselves. Thoughts process is so fast we can not control it very much. Talking to ourselves slows down the process and allow us to monitor the thoughts and change them, control them. When we have happy and good thoughts, we don’t want to monitor them, we prefer the brain to go wild. If the thoughts are challenging, we want to stop them, we want to slow things down. Talking to ourselves is a good way to do it.
    For auditory people/kids, this is essential or they get into a loop of feeling bad about themselves.
    Those kids can be extremely successful kids. They have an amazing talent. I hope you’ll find your daughter’s talent.
    I am so happy to read your comment.
    Happy day

  • Anjali Roy

    thanks to u too……i vl try to find the talent of my daughter n let u know