Parenting Solutions: Tattling
Gossips, complains, or tells about the actions or plans of another with intent to harm, avoid responsibility, get sympathy or attention; doesn't know how to solve problems, so tattles to get someone to be the arbitrator or problem solver
The Change to Parent For
Your child learns when it is responsibly appropriate to tell, becomes more selective about what she should tell, and develops skills to solve her own problems.
"Mahhhmmm! Sara just took a cookie!" "Kara pinched me!" "You're going to get in big trouble when I tell Dad." "Wait until I tell the teacher what you just did!"
Let's face it: tattling can be a real friendship stifler. Who wants a friend (or sibling) who just can't wait to snitch to someone in authority about the bad stuff you've done? Tattling is a learned behavior that typically starts when kids are preschoolers and is usually the first step to that other annoying "any age" behavior called malicious gossiping. If your kid keeps telling on her friends, no one is going to want her around. After all, what child wants to play with someone who is always telling on him? And this behavior has no redeeming qualities. It only causes bad feelings between the tattletale and the accused and often leads to resentment and broken friendships. To the other kids, a tattler is someone who can't be trusted or who wants to be a kiss-up Goody Two-Shoes. A tattler can also get a bad reputation among adults. Would you want a kid around who is constantly complaining or bothering you with trivial grievances? The good news is that this annoying behavior can be changed, and this entry offers simple solutions to help you make that change.
One Simple Solution
A Five-Finger Problem Solver to Stop Tattling
Some kids—especially young kids—tattle because they don't know how to solve problems. The next time your kid expects you to resolve her problem, teach her how to brainstorm options using her five fingers.
Parent: Hold up your thumb and say your problem.
Child: (holding up thumb): Sara took my doll.
Parent: Now name three ways you could fix your problem. Hold up each finger as you say a solution.
Child: (holding up index finger): You could buy me a new doll.
Child: (holding up middle finger): I could take it from her.
Child: (holding up ring finger): We could take turns.
Parent: (holding up pinkie): Now there's one finger left, so hold up your pinkie. Which is the best way to fix your problem?
Child: We'll take turns playing with it.
Go through the steps again and again until your child can fix her own problems without tattling or using her hand to remind her of the problem-solving steps. Of course you can use the same problem-solving technique without the fingers with older kids. The trick is to teach them to brainstorm their own solutions.
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