What If Children Talk to Themselves?

Many parents notice that their children talk to themselves and aren't sure if it's normal. It's a common source of worry, though it's a frequent phenomenon in childhood. How should we react to this situation?
What If Children Talk to Themselves?

Last update: 03 April, 2019

It’s quite normal for children to talk to themselves. This is most common when they’re on their own, away from the company of others.

For many parents, it’s a cause for concern – perhaps because they fear their child may have some issue or disorder. So, if your child talks to him or herself, do you need to worry?

It’s actually quite common for individuals to talk to themselves. In fact, everybody thinks out loud every once in a while. When it comes to children, this occurs more often, especially while they’re playing.

There are a number of reasons for why children talk to themselves. Understanding these reasons may help you know how to handle the situation.

Why do children talk to themselves?

When people talk to themselves, they actually think more clearly. In fact, thinking out loud helps us organize our thoughts, which in turn leads to better decision making. 

So, in what cases might someone talk to him or herself? Basically, there are three scenarios: Before carrying out an action, while carrying out an action, or after completing an action.

With this in mind, by acquiring the ability to speak, children use this tool to guide their own behavior. This behavior is known as private speech. It’s a sign that a person possesses great intelligence and has the ability to analyze and understand issues.

There are a number of reasons that a child may talk to him or herself. The benefits of this behavior demonstrate how advantageous private speech is for child development.

What are the advantages of children talking to themselves?

After the birth of a child, parents look forward to the moment when their little ones will begin to express themselves. So, when children begin to speak, it’s a great source of pride for their moms and dads.

What If Children Talk to Themselves?

Without a doubt, with the passing of time, parents may ask themselves about the possible positive consequences of their children talking to themselves. We’ll name a few below:

  • When children speak to themselves, it stimulates the development of language.
  • It helps them be more efficient: By thinking out loud, they go over the steps they’re going to take and, this way, are successful in reaching their objectives.
  • Children need to talk to themselves in order to learn to reason. This way, they develop logical thought.
  • Their memory becomes more agile: When a thought turns into spoken language, children are better able to store this information in their minds.
  • Children express their feelings and emotions.
  • Private speech helps children overcome challenges because they organize their thoughts better.
  • By expressing what they observe around them, children develop knowledge of their environment.

What is private or egocentric speech?

In synthesis, private speech is synonymous with intelligence. If children talk to themselves, it’s because they’re practicing how to think and how to do things.

At the same time, they’re developing their language skills. The conjunction of these actions is also known a “egocentric speech.”

While this may sound strange, egocentric speech has nothing to do with anything negative. Rather, it’s one of the first ways in which children communicate.

First, children begin to speak out loud, which indicates that they’re learning to think.

As their intelligence matures, so does their speech. This process results in improved language, which in turn allows for the development of cognitive abilities.

There are different types of egocentric speech, which we’ll describe below:


This occurs when children repeat what they hearWhen they hear others speak, they store their words in their mind. Later, they start to use these same words in speech when they’re alone.

“This behavior is known as private speech. It’s a sign that a person possesses great intelligence and has the ability to analyze and understand issues”


This refers to the act of talking to oneself and it usually occurs when children are preparing to do something. 

For example, they may speak to themselves when they’re preparing for a game or other activity. This requires them to go over the necessary steps to reach their objective.

Parents may overhear phrases like: “I need to put a car here, and then a bridge here, and then a block here”.

Collective monologues

In collective monologues, children may talk to themselves while also including other characters. They start telling something that happened as if someone had asked them.

There’s no need for parents to be alarmed in the face of this behavior. Egocentric speech allows kids to learn to interact with others, better understand what’s going on around them, and react to diverse situations.

What If Children Talk to Themselves?

Until what age do children talk to themselves?

This situation is normal in children, especially between the ages of 3 and 6. In general, they begin to face new situations during this stage and also develop their ability to communicate.

But you may be asking how long your child will continue to talk to him or herself. As children grow, they need this resource. It’s the way that they address and orient themselves.

Furthermore, children think about what they’re doing, how they behave and get used to making decisions. However, as they get older, they already comprehend how to do these tasks and no longer need to talk out loud.

Therefore, the fact that children talk to themselves is in no way negative. Rather, it’s essential to acquiring and developing new skills. In conclusion, there’s no reason to worry. It doesn’t mean that your child has a disorder or developmental issue.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Berk, L. E. (1995). ¿ Por qué hablan solos los niños?. Investigación y ciencia, (220), 56-61.
  • Martínez, C. S. M., Calbet, H. B., & Santacana, M. F. (2014). Habla privada en los mensajes de niñas y niños bilingües y monolingües. RLA: revista de lingüística teórica y aplicada52(1), 59-78. https://scielo.conicyt.cl/scielo.php?pid=S0718-48832014000100004&script=sci_arttext&tlng=e
  • Montero, I., & Huertas, J. A. (1999). The Motivational Function of Private Speech in Young Children. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED433137

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.