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My 5 year old son is very extroverted, and loves to talk to anyone and everyone.

Sometimes, this feels problematic.

For example, he engages waiters and waitresses in conversation, which frequently lean more towards lectures.

A waitress recently came by to clear an empty plate from our table. He launched into a detailed explanation of everything he did this morning, right down to the details such as walking from his bedroom to the kitchen, pulling our his chair, etc..

Most people seem okay with this, and politely listen, but I feel awkward in these situations because they're working, and he's monopolizing their time. Indeed, some people do show frustration, and even cut him off or walk away mid-sentence (which hurts his feelings).

My wife and are both introverts, and talking to people too much is not something we have much experience with.

How do we handle these situations? How do we address the difference between chatting, and "talking someone's ear off", without discouraging him from being friendly? Can we do this now, or should we wait until he's older?

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Well, I have the same problem with my 5yo (almost 6yo). She is a very extrovert girl, she talks with everybody and makes friends very easily. In that types of situation, we say to her that the people are busy or working, so she can't monopolize their time. At 5, they can understand concepts such "busy" and "work". Obviously, you have to say it very kindly: "honey, the waitress it's working right now...you can talk to me instead".

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No, you should not discourage your son from talking so much.

What you could do is encourage your son to become more aware of the situation. Talk about what people are doing, and why they are busy, and why they might not be able to, nor want to, talk to him. You'd want to let him know that in some situations talking is not appropriate (talk very quietly if you're in the cinema, for example).

You might also want to talk to the other people in that situation to "give them permission" to ignore your son or to walk away when they're done. Something like "ho ho, isn't he talkative! He'd be here talking all day if he could, but we know you're busy."

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    Please note that the OP states, "...some people...cut him off or walk away mid-sentence (which hurts his feelings)." I don't think giving people permission to do this painful act is an appealing or helpful option. Better to work with the child. – anongoodnurse Dec 30 '15 at 3:24
  • @anongoodnurse Did you read the second paragraph? Also, it's probably better if you write your own answer – user19912 Dec 30 '15 at 15:00

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