What's the big deal about Young Living

On Story Time and Interrupting Children

Children asking questions

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.

Careful Mother vs. Assertive Mother

If you like this post, you might also like "Careful Mother vs. Assertive Mother"


Or "10 Signs Your Child is Spoiled and What to do About it."

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  1. For. Real. Speaking from extensive experience, this is just how it is. I don’t let my boys interrupt story time either. One reason is politeness to the other people listening. The other is just as significant…learning patience by waiting for the answers to make themselves apparent in the natural order of the story itself.

  2. Jennifer says:

    Absolutely agree!

  3. I can’t believe anybody would object to this. I do the same thing, not just with bedtime stories, but any teaching. You get one shot, don’t blow it. They learn a lot faster how to behave, and we’re all happier for it. Why waste time and energy with a gazillion chances when you can train them faster and with less confusion by setting your expectations where you want them and then sticking to them? I think I’ve read a few Charlotte Mason quotes to that effect, too.

  4. Amen, sister!
    I couldn’t agree with your approach here more.

  5. I’m all the way with ya, Connie! Most of the people that would maybe disagree are not moms yet, or not to multiple children anyway!! You left some great teaching here, and I’m enthused about incorporating it into our reading time. I struggle more with the scenario of one child starting to act goofy, child #2 laughs, child #3 also acts goofy, child #4 starts having divided attention to mom and to the crazy acting siblings….so I quit reading, till that gets their attention and they beg me to continue…”well, when you are ready to listen, I’ll read”. I think I’ll have to do as you do and just say “Good-night.” THAT would change things quite quickly! :-)

  6. If a kid interrupts while I am mid-sentence, I hold up my hand and keep reading. If they do that again, they just might face being sent to another room. I always ask them to wait until we get to the end of a page, OR until I stop and ask if they have any questions.
    Like you and Cindy Dyer said, they CAN be trained to wait.

  7. Thank you! I have heard so many times to be ok with questions, shoot, to even interrupt yourself with questions. And I hate it. How would the storytime at the library go if the librarian embraced interrupting questions?? I always say, “Just wait and find out.” Thanks for the validation!

  8. I agree. I think it is important to teach our children that there is a time and a place for everything. They need to learn to sit in a lecture or a sermon or a meeting later in life so what best way for them to learn that than in the home? I usually ask my children to save their questions until I am done. If they are concerned they might forget, or if they want to say something that absolutely cannot wait, they can raise their hand. Otherwise, we have a discussion question at the end. It is all about balance and it does get easier as they get older.

  9. I sure appreciate you sharing not only your perspective (how we do _) but also the reasons behind it (why we do _). Parenting littles can be so daunting. Reading your posts is an encouragement.

  10. We do the same thing here, and we only have two kids. Also, EVERY night we sing 2 songs per kid before story time. If they take too long choosing a song or whine/talk while we are singing their song automatically ends or they lose their turn. Same rules every night. Why? Otherwise it takes an hour to sing 4 songs and read a chapter, at the end of which I have very awake tired kids who think it is fun and okay to make everyone else wait on them, interrupt someone when they are speaking, ask the exact question their sibling just asked, not listen to the story (hence they missed the answer to their question) and to whine when you don’t get your way. My husband used to get frustrated just hearing us do bed times. It was a much needed change when I said, “Enough! This is how it will work from now on.”

  11. Love this! Thank you. I have shied away from reading at night because of the constant interruptions and how many times it takes me to finish. No more!! :)

  12. Disagree! Disagree! Wow! It seems like I’m the only one who has a different opinion. Let the children interrupt. I read stories to my grandchildren all the time. They interrupt most of the time. Is the story time for me or for them? I think it is for them. Let them have it their way. Story time should be stress free for the children and not bogged down with a bunch of rules. If you don’t have time to finish the story, pick it up at the next time. And if they want to hear all of the story, they will not interrupt the next time. It’s about interacting and connecting with each other, folks.