Updated on May 26, 2013
S.C. asks from Anaheim, CA
23 answers

I took my 3.1 yo to the local library to participate in their storytelling program for the first time. Also,this would be the first "organized" activity that she will be attending. They have different schedules for different age brackets,however i was only able to bring her to the "for all ages" bracket.

At first she was very good. She sat with everybody else for about 3 minutes then it was as if she lost her patience and started standing up and jumping in place. At the beginning of the session,the kids had to dance a lil bit as warm up which my daughter enjoyed. But when it was story telling time,she wouldnt sit still. She kept going up to the teacher wanting to touch the puppets. And when i tried to stop her,she threw a fit! I was so embassed as i can feel everyones stare. To make it worst,the teacher told us to leave and come back when werw ready. I just felt my face got really warm and tried not so hard to cry. This was exactly my greatest fear before going and it actually happened! =(

Of course i held my composure and just left and took her to the cubicles and she was just satisfied and happy reading books and playing on her own. She is not shy and shes good with playing with a group. Im just struggling with having her to sit down and focus.

I accept it was probably my fault. I shouldv started with her age bracket and i shouldve taken it slow. I dont know. I felt really bad that for the first time my daughter whom im so proud of,embarrassed me for the first time. Maybe i felt guilty. I just dont want her to miss out

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So What Happened?

Thank you everyone for your very warm and at the same time humourous responses.

A few of you questioned why I got embarassed and reacted so strongly. First of all,i admitted that i felt guilty for being embarassed because I know that was ridiculous of me to feel. But what can I do? The human in me got embarassed. I didnt got mad at my child
and i didnt embarass her in public. We just simply moved on to another activity. i'm a first time mom and being asian (pls dont take this as racism or stereotypin.) we're surrounded by WELL BEHAVED kids,tho of course they still act silly at times. I wrote on this site before asking for suggestions and a lot have suggested story time. Any way,rest assured, im only hard on myself but not on my child. She's happy and normal :)

The points that changed my life (too many to mention but ill try):

-you have experienced the same thing
-my child told me what DOESNT work for her and I should listen
-i should be happy she's curious
-this time,I will STRONGLY enforce taking her in the car until she cries her out
-we will practice storytime at home first

Thank you!!!! This really helped me a lot to understand my child even more. She is quite delayed in speech thats why communicating can be challenging and i know she gets frustrated but we're working on that :)

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answers from Cincinnati on

Think we have all been there. I don't make youngest for this very reason. i KNOW he'd make a scene and embarass me LOL

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answers from Washington DC on

good heavens!
why such a strong reaction?
of course the teacher asked you to come back at a better time. the only thing that really could have been better would have been if you had done so before she asked.
but there's nothing wrong with your wiggly 3 year old.
this is parenthood. we try new things, sometimes they don't work, we learn, adapt and move on.
no need for tears or embarrassment.

13 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Just keep working with her at home and at the library on sitting quietly and just listening, without interrupting and getting up or moving around. I started my guy at a year and we'd sit in the back in case he fussed and we had to leave, as he's gotten older he's improved, his range of understanding has expanded, he knows he needs to sit quietly at times, can play at others. Preschool has helped, too, it's reinforced every day so now at 4 he KNOWS.

Being that this was her very first time there, I'm not surprised, how could she know? She probably got caught up in the excitement of other kids, the library, the puppets, it was a lot to deal with as a first. And don't feel embarrassed or guilty, the librarians see it all the time, and they weren't reprimanding you, just setting the boundaries :)

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Why were you embarrassed?? She didn't do anything abnormal, nor did she have any idea about your expectations! She's 3. She had never done anything like this before. And if they started by dancing, which she enjoyed, and then they stopped, why would you expect her to automatically transition to the next phase?

The teacher didn't tell you to leave because she was mad - she gave you permission to stop an activity your daughter wasn't enjoying so that you could settle her down in private. You did the right thing - you left to do something else. Why did you feel like crying and why was this your worst fear??? This is much more about you and your own expectations for yourself than it is about behavior in a 3 year old.

Going forward, you will know what to expect at this program. In the future, if you really want to prepare rather than just go with the flow, you can always call ahead. Say that your daughter hasn't done this before, and what are the activities or segments involved. Then tell your daughter that you're going to a story program. Tell her it starts with some dancing, and then everyone sits down for quiet time. We dance during dance time, then we sit quietly during story time. The lady will use puppets and if we sit and listen, we get to hear what the puppets have to say. When it's over, we can go get a book. Make it simple - no more than 3 sections. Start with some terms she can practice at home - quiet time, dancing time, reading time, whatever. Then you can cue her.

But you really have to give her a chance to be 3, to learn to function in a group, to transfer her attention to another person (such as a teacher), to learn to sit in a circle, and so on. This is a learned behavior, not an instinct.

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answers from Austin on

Well at least you tried..

Remember at 3 yrs old.. Her attention span is 3 minutes..so really she fell into that time frame.

I am sure it sounded like a reprimand, but it is just reinforcing that your daughter is not ready to just sit and listen.

Practice at home.. Do you read to her at nap time and bed time? Do you remind her that during this time she needs to just listen with her ears?

She wants and needs to be active, so next time go with the younger kids..

Don't be embarrassed...she is still very young....

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Ah, that's not a bad start! For either of you!

She is the perfect age to start to be taught to set still but not to be expected yet. She is a young three.

This is just another step in your parenting. Your expectations were off kilter because this is your first and you didn't have any experience with other's expectations. Start with what you know now. That's too big an expectation for her right now. For most young three yr olds! It has happened to us all that we are surprised that they acted their age. We are always harder on the first child. Don't feel guilty. It really isn't that big of a deal. There will be many other opportunities to learn and set and listen.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Erie on

When I was 3yo there was a nice old lady in our neighborhood that often took the bus at the same time we did on Saturdays to go shopping. I was never able to stand still at the bus stop or sit for long periods of time at the library (or anywhere else). This old lady said, in reply to my mother's exasperation at my fidgety-ness, "She is precocious and needs occupation." My mother never forgot those words and often reminded me of them when my little boys were running in circles at story time (or locking themselves in maintenance closets at the library.) My brain was simply moving too fast for my body to keep still, I have always been someone who has to touch and explore what I see, I learn by doing, not by passive listening.

These days will soon be nothing but a memory. Don't waste time feeling embarrassed about your daughter's totally age-appropriate behavior. You could spend hours teaching her to sit still and listen, and she might do it at home, but not be able to out in the world. Right now, Story Time is not an option for her, so take her to the park instead and leave the story reading for home. She'll be ready eventually, but not all kids can be taught to act like that at that age, and shouldn't be forced to.

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answers from Boston on

Very common. Don't worry! Try again.

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answers from Appleton on

Yep, kids will do that. Part of it is because it was a new experience for her and she wasn't sure how to act. Next time you take her for a new experience explain it all too her in detail. Such as the trip to the library, something like this: " Sweetie, tomorrow we are going to the library for story time. When we get there other kids will be there and all of you will sit down and listen to the story. You have to sit still and not play until the story is finished."
Kids, even as young as 3, bend to peer pressure fairly quickly. They like to be like everyone else and they do like to be removed from any fun activity. If you tell her she will have to go home if can't behave she will understand. Most kids would rather be out and about and be with kids their own age than at home with Mom.
In a way you kind of 'rewarded' her 'bad' behavior by taking her to a cubicle and reading to her. She got your undivided attention and a story. I honestly don't think her behavior was bad it was age appropriate. Don't be so embarrassed I bet every kid in that library did something like that at least once to their parents.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Aww, mama, join the club. ALL of us have been embarrassed by our kids at one time or another.

This is a learning experience for you. Here are some hints to help you:
She has no experience with this. You have to offer the experience. Don't think in terms of not wanting her to "miss out". What circle time is REALLY about is children learning to handle being in a circle. It may take a long time for her to be able to learn to sit still.

Here's what you do. Pick only the age appropriate circle time. No matter what. If she doesn't do what she has to do, pick her up and take her outside. If she has a tantrum, put her in the car, keep the doors open so that it isn't hot, and let her cry while strapped into her seat. After she's done, ask her if she is ready to try again. If she says yes, tell her the rules. Take her back in and repeat.

If you ALWAYS take her out at the beginning of any behavior that the circle will not tolerate, you will train her to understand that she can't do it. Consider it to be success if she can add 5 minutes to each quiet sitting.

You must NOT plead with her to behave. You must remove her from the setting for the comfort of everyone else. It is not fair to the other children or the teacher to make them put up with your child not adjusting to the behavior of the group.

I promise you that if you work with your daughter this way, in EVERY situation (including the grocery store, and I really mean that), she will learn to be a nice little model citizen and your embarrassment will turn into pride for having a child who acts appropriately. But it won't come without a lot of work on YOUR part. It is your job to do the WORK it takes to rein your daughter in. She is just being a child. It isn't her fault. But you have to teach her. If you don't, THEN it's your fault.

Good luck!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

First of all, everyone there knows exactly how you feel and was probably empathizing, not judging you. The sooner you can let go of what other people think, the easier these things will become. I'm not saying don't be respectful of others around when your child has these moments, but there will be times when your child doesn't do exactly what you expect of them. You need to reevaluate in the moment and do what makes the most sense. It may take 2, 3 times or more to get her used to sitting for the story portion. Or she might not ever want to sit for it. If so, go in another direction.

And try not to set such high expectations for success or failure with her. She's very young and activities can have unpredictable results sometimes. You will have times when she is a perfectly behaved, brilliant little angel and you packed the perfect snacks, which she eats at just the right times, and you look like the mother of the year. Then you will have those times when she's teething or sick but you don't know it yet, and she's a cranky mess, and the water bottle you packed for her leaks all over your bag, soaking the food you brought for her to eat, and you forgot a change of clothes and she projectile pees from the toilet, soaking her underwear and pants and your shoes. So goes the life of a mother. Embrace it. You're doing great.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

Keep going, and just make sure to take her out as soon as she becomes disruptive. She will eventually catch on. Trust me, she won't be the first or last kid who has had to leave story time.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Williamsport on

I personally used things like this to discipline my kids so they could sit still through things because they needed to-church with strict relatives, music lessons, waiting rooms-I'm a single parent with no daycare who had to take them everywhere, so at around 2 1/2 we did the first classes where I removed immediately for discipline after quiet warning and then returned to class a few times so they learned to mind warnings and be still and quiet.

If I did not have that need, I would have just avoided those scenarios until later. Left to their own devices kids this age do not st still and quietly. When people witness my kids doing it (yup my youngest and toughest three year old can sit through a violin concert where you could hear a pin drop) they comment in amazement, but if they knew how I got to that point they probably wouldn't approve....don't feel bad. Discipline her, or wait until she's older. This is normal.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

You know what? My kid is just NOT good at this type of activity. We had to find something he enjoyed and catered to his interests. For him that's gym play times, and physical types of activity. He is soooo curious about everything, he does better in situations that curiosity is nurtured. Our library has "treasure hunt" days. They send you on a cute little hunt with all these clues. Very simple questions for the little kiddos to answer, about their surroundings. Lost of curious exploring. I take him to those events, but so don't take him to story time.

Don't worry about fits, and don't worry about other people. Those who judge you either have the perfect kid (ha!) or they are more removed from that stage...and aren't compassionate enough to remember going through it.

With all that said keep going!! This was overload for her this time around. Everything was new. It took quite a few times of me trying, to truly realize story time wasn't for him. Many kids do well, after a few times. Just try again!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I think the librarian may have meant to leave and come back when she is ready, meant a few minutes once your daughter settled down. If the group was for all ages, there's no way she would have asked to you leave the group altogether, but what is done is done. When I your subject line; 3 yo embarrassed me, you were going to share maybe something she shared about you. Like my daughter wrote in her classroom journal; 'my mommy is laisee (lazy) sometimes.'
As for your girl and group time, she will get there she will learn as she goes and becomes aware of others, taking turns, sharing, etc. My son still doesn't like circle time and his teacher is very patient with him. Sometimes for his benefit circle time is about 'how to behave' during circle time. They list the different ways to behave for example, only one person speaks at a time and the rest of group listens. Definitely don't sweat this one :) Good luck. Maybe look into a community class for kids her age.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Oh, Shelle-- we've all been there. At some point or another!

I wrote about this a few years ago on my blog: took my son to a storytime at the library when he was about 2.5 or so and wouldn't you know? He took one look at that big room full of friendly adults and no furniture and thought "What a great place to run and make friends!" (which is what most kids this age likely think-- still not sure if the person who organizes storytimes understands this!) He ended up having a very hard time following along, went up to lots of other mommies for attention and then, when I tried to corral him closer to me, fell over and skinned his nose hard on the carpet, screaming.

We weren't asked to leave, but I left anyway. On the way out I saw the sign which read "Toddler Storytime: Learn to Sit and Listen". I guffawed-- these were so not the skills I valued for my toddler child, passively sitting and listening. ugh! It wasn't like he was going to start attending lectures at three. I realized how boring and stifling it would be for my busy guy and we just chose other outings which met his need to move and socialize, like going to the park or zoo. He could sit and listen at home, which was fine with me.

We went back to library events later, when he was around four and was past the 'big room! let's run!' stage and enjoyed ourselves. At that point, he'd had preschool and practice in the 'passive' department.

All that to say, don't sweat this right now. She's likely not the first kid who has been asked to leave. And I'll say this: anyone who would judge YOU for this is just plain being judgy, nothing else. The child is their own autonomous person and not an extension of the parent, and kids can be pre-corrected, you can 'play' story-time at home and have her practice sitting and listening-- and a child will still get into that environment and whatever happens, happens. My toddler group, I learned, would sit and listen to stories-- but only because these were daycare kids who had been exposed to other kids modeling this for them since they were about 15 months old in with the younger toddlers. There were always older kids around modeling 'sit and listen' for them. All that to say, there are reasons that some children are able to do this and some really aren't. My son was great at home, but take him into that stimulating new environment and "bye mom!"

All of this to say, don't feel badly about it or embarrassed. Now, if you had been the mom who was arguing with the librarian and insisting your child stay-- THAT would have been embarrassing. Most other moms have been where you are, even if they don't want to admit it. :)

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answers from Santa Fe on

oh my gosh, at our story time there are always multiple toddlers doing that same thing! You should not worry about it one bit. They can't really sit and focus very long. Next time just let her be up with the teacher touching the book...that is what a lot of people do. My daughter would last for the first part of the story and then would often just want to wander around. Anyway, don't feel bad! It's ok...and no big deal!

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answers from Las Vegas on

Oh don't beat yourself up.. There's more of that to come. :) It's life and part of her growing up...

She doesn't have all the words to say, Mom! I don't want to sit so still and I really like those puppets and want to touch them..

Next time, don't take her to that type of event, instead.. Take her to a place like the Exploratorium (in San Francisco) if they have something like that down in Simi.. OR even to a petting Zoo or museum like the Monterey where she can be hands on and interactive..

She showed you what doesn't work for her...
There will be other chances to sit down and focus.. At three, she just needs lots of love, encouragement and some good ol playtime..

She does focus in that she will read books on her own.. therefore, I wouldn't be alarmed... Hey, if I were her age and saw a bunch of puppets.. I wanna check em out too... see the positive here.. she is simply VERY curious.. and that IS a good thing :) every child learns and discovers differently... it's a brave new world for her..

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Barbara on

Some library story times are very strict and some are more causal. Most expect a child or two to be active and often say at the beginning 'if your child wants to explore, please take them out of the area so the other children can enjoy the story." You are new at this and so of us have had this happen more times that it seems 'normal' to walkout.

You should check the library Summer program. Many libraries invite entertainers and the kids love them. We had a drummer, a puppeteer (he was very sticks with kids who asked questions), a clown (he put the make-up on in front of the kids and they all loved it and were not scared), and a magician.

I also agree with the 'keep going.' I think she will enjoy it in a few months. Some kids love stories and all love the songs they do in between the stories.

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answers from Washington DC on

I feel for you. I always had the kids that would act like yours did, no matter how many times we went to those activities, and no matter what the age bracket was. And then I would have the judgmental mommies glaring at me because their little darlings were able to sit there quietly while mine was taking the room apart. Keep trying at the age appropriate story time, and if that doesn't work, maybe think about a more active activity for her to try. It will get better when she starts preschool and has more practice sitting still. Just know that others do go through it, and the judgmental moms out there will get embarrassed by their kids eventually.

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answers from New York on

Sometimes we expect our children to act a certain way & we really have to realize that it's just not going to happen! I remember one time yelling at my then 5 yr old to stop acting like such a child when her & her cousin were having a water balloon fight in the house, but you know where they learned it from....me! The biggest child in the bunch! Sometimes you just have to sit there and when someone looks at you just say "where is that little girls mother" and smile! Smile a big smile!

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answers from Columbus on

Now you know why they have story times for different ages. I would have been very upset if I had been there with my child and your kid kept going up and interrupting the teacher. I used to take my kids to story time all the time when they were little and it was very annoying when other kids were so disruptive; I would stare at the parent wondering why they couldn't control their child.

Next time, take your child to the age-appropriate story time and make her behave; if she can't then take her out immediately, don't wait for everyone else to get upset and annoyed!!!

In the meantime, teach her how to sit still while being read to!!

Good luck!!!



answers from Los Angeles on

What she did is perfectly normal for her age, and especially it being her first time. We took our son to storytime at the library and some of the kids got crazy, others sat still. Mine changed from day to day, but they don't have a lot of focus at that age. I would try it again with her age group and see how she does. I guarantee you'll see a wide range of behavior.

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