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What to do about tattling

Author GreatDad Writers
Submitted 18-01-2007

  • Check out the situation: Before you decide that your children are turning into a tattletale, take stock of the situation yourself. Your children need to learn not to tattle, but they also need to feel secure in the knowledge that they can ask for help when necessary. You might tell your youngsters that it’s okay to alert you when someone does something dangerous, but they may still have trouble differentiating dangerous from annoying. (Is jumping on the bed dangerous, for instance?)
  • Don’t make the payoff: There are lots of situations, of course, where safety isn’t at stake. In these cases, if you punish the other child you’ll reinforce the tattling. If you refrain from jumping in, your kids will soon understand that some battles are meant to be handled by them alone, and that they can be proud of themselves when they handle a situation solo
  • Explore alternatives together: When they run into a difficult situation, your youngsters need guidance on what to do instead of tattling. Tell them, “William, I can help you more if you calm down and tell me what happened.” The idea is to reassure them that they can handle things, and then empower them with strategies to do it
  • Go back to the bargaining table: Once you’ve heard the complaint, assessed the danger, and helped your children come up with potential solutions, send them back into the fray. What you want is for your youngsters to develop their own problem-solving abilities.