Kids 5-12 Behaviour
Explaining Tattling vs. Telling To Kids

Explaining Tattling vs. Telling To Kids

You want your children to be able to manage circumstances on their own, solve problems and come up with their own answers. It’s all part of collaborating without always involving a “manager” or a third party (like parents, teachers or another grown-up).

It’s easy to become frustrated when your children come to you for everything. It’s a little…annoying when your toddler comes crashing down the stairs for the third time in 15 minutes to tell you her sibling “looks at her strange.”

On the other hand, you don’t want your children to keep you in the dark about key events.

You’re aware, for example, when another child is repeatedly bullied and singled out at school. When a friend gives them drugs, for example. When the babysitter requests that they keep a secret, for example.

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How To Respond to Tattling or Telling

When you use the describe what you observe strategy, you don’t have to worry about separating tattling from telling since you may describe what the child is thinking, doing, feeling, or saying without asking any questions, mending anything, or passing judgement.

You can always trust the child’s word and reflect what you see back to them by describing what you see. 

“You didn’t like it when your brother didn’t share with you.”

“You didn’t like it when your toy broke.”

“You wanted to let me know she leaped on the couch.”

“You came to inform me about your friend because you were worried about him.”

Young children lack the ability to distinguish between tattling and telling. It’s always telling to them, and then it’s up to us — the parents – to decide.

It’s always okay, in my opinion, to tell an adult about something that’s going on.
It’s up to the adult to help the youngster figure out if they can handle it on their own or if they need aid from an adult. As your children grow older and more mature, they will be able to predict when they will need to tell you about something.

For instance, if the youngster hurries down the stairs and exclaims, “My brother won’t share with me,” you can remark, “Your brother won’t share with you, and you’re not happy with that.” You wanted to inform me. Tell me what you can do to make him aware that you don’t agree.”

This immediately shifts the youngster into problem-solving mode, allowing you to leave the “manager” role behind.

Now the child may inquire about what they can do, and you can respond by saying something like this:

“You can approach him and say, ‘I’d like a turn with that toy.’ Alternatively, you may say, ‘Please share.’ ‘Perhaps I could take a turn as soon as you’re done.’ You can also take a break from him and do something else. Perhaps you have another idea that might work as well!”

Giving our children the opportunity to deal with difficulties on their own is a life skill that will benefit them greatly.

Kids must learn to manage situations without the continual supervision and intervention of an adult. It’s critical for children’s development that they have the opportunity to practise at home so that when they’re adults and someone does something they don’t like, they’ll be prepared to respond in a variety of ways.

Tattling Example

Let’s pretend you instruct your oldest child to put the toys away. After about five minutes, a smaller youngster approaches you and says, “He’s not picking up the toys.”

On the surface, it appears that the younger child is attempting to get the older child into trouble. While this is true, a simple shift in perspective also reveals two things:

The child may be trying to prove to you that he is responsible, that he understands the rules, or that he heard the instructions you gave his elder sibling. The underlying need in this situation is for the younger child to connect with you.

If the younger child feels powerless or inferior to his big sibling, he may use this as a method to feel more strong or reestablish the power balance between them.
While our adult brains may not always understand exactly what is going on in the time, we can trust our children’s words by using SAY WHAT YOU SEE.

The best thing about this method is that you don’t need all of the answers.

So, if a youngster comes to you and says, “My brother isn’t picking up the toys,” you can respond, “Your brother isn’t picking up the toys, and you sound concerned about it.”

“You want your brother to pick up the toys,” says the narrator. There must be something you can do to assist him.”

“You wanted me to know that your brother isn’t picking up the toys, so I told you. He appears to be in need of your assistance. “I’m sure there’s something you can do.”

This assists the youngster in entering problem-solving mode, removing you from the management role and encouraging the child to solve the problem on his or her own.

You can sit down and speak about instances when it’s necessary to ask a grown-up for help when the kids aren’t tattle-tattle-tattle-tattle-tattle-tattle-tattle-tattle-tattle-tattle-tattle-tattle-tattle-tattle-tattle-t

This could be a good conversation starter:

Tell me if you’re in a grown-up position – when you need a grown-aid up’s – or if you’re in a kid situation – when you can talk to a kid about something before going to a grown-up.

Why do kids tattle?

You can always ask yourself, “Why would a good kid do this?”

Most kids who snitch do it because they’ve seen it done before: someone correcting another person and telling them to follow the rules.

We enjoy correcting children on a regular basis: sit up straight, go to bed, stay in bed, dress up, speed up.

We don’t like what we see when they serve out what we’ve modelled.

When a child says to you, “So and so did this or that,” what they’re really saying is that they’re attempting to assist others follow the rules by letting an adult know they need to be corrected.

It’s also a child that enjoys learning new things.
A child who enjoys adhering to the rules. A child who enjoys leading others.

He or she will open up to your direction if you can recognize and say the child’s best intention (e.g., “You were only trying to assist your brother follow the rules.”).

When your child screams, “He…he…not he’s sharing!” from the bottom of the stairs, you’ll be prepared.

You can describe what you notice right away.

“You don’t like it when he doesn’t share. There must be something you can do to inform him. Hmmm…tell me what you’re going to say when you get back upstairs.”

What You Should Do Next:

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