Well, it seems I touched a nerve when I posted on my Smockity Facebook about not allowing my children to interrupt when I am reading aloud.
Here’s what I said to my Facebook audience about the way I handled the problem:
I used to struggle with constant interrupters during bedtime story time…
Now, I remind everyone that if anyone interrupts me, the story is over until the next bedtime. Occasionally, someone interrupts, and I quietly close the book and say my “good nights.”
Interrupting problem solved!
Let’s picture the scene, shall we?
Scenario: Bed time
Audience: Children, ages 2-8
Mom: (Opens book) “Once upon a time there were three little pigs. The first…”
Kid 1: “Is this the story with the big, bad wolf?”
Mom: “Yes, you can see a wolf on the cover.”
Kid 1: “Oh.”
Mom: “The first little pig…”
Kid 2: “Is he the one who built the stick house?”
Mom: “If you will listen, I am about to get to that. The first little pig built…”
Kid 3: “Is this a true story?”
Mom: “Do pigs build things in real life?”
Kid 3: “No…”
Mom: “The first little pig built his house of straw.”
Kid 3: “So, is it a true story or not?”
Mom: (Gives up and runs away from home with her belongings wrapped in a bandana on the end of a stick.)
Now, this little reenactment is slightly exaggerated for the sake of humor, but if you know children, or have taught children, or ever read aloud a story to them, you probably know this very much represents their nature.
I have taught Sunday school, public school, and homeschool for more than 20 years, and if there’s one thing I know it is this: Kids are impatient and impulsive.
But they don’t have to stay that way. They can be taught self control.
Yes, it is good to have a curiosity about the world around us. Yes, it is good to question things we do not understand. Yes, it is good to discuss stories that are read aloud.
But there is a time and a place for everything. (This is the same thing I tell my kids about booger picking, by the way.)
Imagine, if you will, a child who likes to draw. Not hard to imagine, right? Now, imagine a child who likes to draw on walls. This might be something that would be age-appropriate for a toddler, which a parent would work on eliminating.
Imagine that same child at age 8, drawing on the walls at the local library with a Sharpie.
Not cool, right? The library staff would likely be upset, and maybe even ask you to make restitution and/or leave the library.
There is a time and place for everything. Drawing = fine. Drawing on walls at the library with a Sharpie = Not fine.
This is how I approach questions during story time. There is a time and a place for questions. Asking questions at the end of the chapter or book = Fine. Interrupting me during the story = Not fine.
Very often, the questions the children have will be answered if they will just be patient and listen to the story. Sometimes the answer becomes clear through clues in the story. Sometimes the pictures I show them reveal the answers. Occasionally, the answers are found only at the end of the story during our discussion of it.
The bottom line is children must be taught self control, patience, and delayed gratification.
I am in no way suggesting that children not be allowed to ask questions about that which they do not understand.
I am suggesting they absolutely can be taught to wait and do that at an appropriate time, instead of interrupting.
If you like this post, you might also like “Careful Mother vs. Assertive Mother”