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Tattletaling - what is your approach to this?

post #1 of 35
Thread Starter 

There's no other way I can phrase it except to call it tattletaling. 

 

My ds ran out of his classroom today at pick-up (half-day kindergarten) to meet me and yell, "(Girl's name) pushed me and yelled at me and tried to trip me!"  ... and then, when he caught sight of the girl's dad there, ran over to him to tell on her to him.

 

This certainly isn't the first time, but it is the first time I noticed the teacher and the other parents glancing at me to see if I fell all over him.

 

I gave a small smile to the girl's dad and mouthed "Sorry!" as I asked ds to come out to the car with me.  The girl's dad was friendly about it:  "Thanks for letting me know, (ds).  I'll talk to her about it.", and he was smiling and chuckling.  His daughter and my ds are a lot alike (same birth month, youngest in class, he's an oldest/she's an only) and they don't get along very well.

 

 

 

 

I don't want to react out of embarrassment, but the teacher's rules (which are similar to mine at home) basically state that if you're telling on someone because they might be hurt/bleeding/etc., and you want to keep them safe, then that's okay -- but if you're telling on someone to get them in trouble, that's not okay.  I would agree, only the times I've explained it to ds, he takes the loophole of being able to tattle if "Someone is being disruptive!" -- his words, not mine, after he heard my mom (teaches 2nd grade) describe her rule of "Dangerous/destructive/disruptive".

 

How do you all handle this?  I can use some solid wisdom here.

post #2 of 35

I honestly don't understand why "tattletaling" is a problem. Why on earth would you WANT your kids to not tell you if they're being bullied or harrassed at school? Not that it sounds like this girl is bullying him, but think about what you're teaching your kindergartener here. If he never feels safe telling you what went on at school, what kind of habits are you setting up for a few years from now, when bullying just might happen?

 

I would, however, talk to my child about tact and respect. Telling me that the child misbehaved during class isn't going to solve anything- talk to the teacher. And do it privately, not yelling it out in front of the whole class. Nothing good will come from embarrassing the other child.

 

Yes, I want to hear how your day went and if you had any problems at school- so tell me privately, in a quiet voice, about how another child bothered you. We can brainstorm together ways you can interact with that child to make things better. If things are really bad, maybe I need to talk to the teacher and/or the other child's parent about it. But all that can be accomplished without embarrassing her. If I need to talk to the teacher or other parent, I can give him/her a call or speak to him/her privately tomorrow- there's never, ever a need to yell negative things about somebody else (unless there's immediate danger.)

 

post #3 of 35
Thread Starter 

Ruthla, I totally agree with you -- I WANT my kids to tell me what's going on at school, and we had an incident earlier this year where a child was being inappropriate and I was glad that my son feels like he can communicate what is going on.

 

However, the bolded part in your reply is exactly what I want to figure out how to teach my son.  He was coming out of the classroom on one mission:  to get this girl in trouble and embarrass her -- and I think that's why he yelled to me as he was coming down the hall, versus telling me quietly.

 

This is what I'm puzzling over:  we talk all the time about communicating things to keep ourselves and other people safe, but his sole purpose was getting her in trouble.  In fact, when I was talking with him on the way home and we were discussing why he felt he had to do it loudly/to me, his teacher, her parent/in a mean voice, he stated "Because I think (child) deserves a consequence for being so mean!"

 

Your last paragraph is what I have repeatedly discussed with my son (this isn't the first time this has happened), and I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong that he doesn't get it.

 

Is it because he's five?  Or is he way too black & white about this whole "injustice was done, now justice shall be served if I tell!" or how can I best communicate this?

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruthla View Post

I honestly don't understand why "tattletaling" is a problem. Why on earth would you WANT your kids to not tell you if they're being bullied or harrassed at school? Not that it sounds like this girl is bullying him, but think about what you're teaching your kindergartener here. If he never feels safe telling you what went on at school, what kind of habits are you setting up for a few years from now, when bullying just might happen?

 

I would, however, talk to my child about tact and respect. Telling me that the child misbehaved during class isn't going to solve anything- talk to the teacher. And do it privately, not yelling it out in front of the whole class. Nothing good will come from embarrassing the other child.

 

Yes, I want to hear how your day went and if you had any problems at school- so tell me privately, in a quiet voice, about how another child bothered you. We can brainstorm together ways you can interact with that child to make things better. If things are really bad, maybe I need to talk to the teacher and/or the other child's parent about it. But all that can be accomplished without embarrassing her. If I need to talk to the teacher or other parent, I can give him/her a call or speak to him/her privately tomorrow- there's never, ever a need to yell negative things about somebody else (unless there's immediate danger.)

 

post #4 of 35

In addition to working on the concepts of tact and privacy, one of the concepts that I've worked with my daughter on (ds doesn't seem to have this tendency) is to ask:  Why are you telling me this? What do you want me to do?

 

This reduces the amount of complaints that I get about random things (so and so didn't do their homework), but it keeps the flow of info coming. For older kids, I like: Am I telling mom/teacher this to get someone INTO trouble or OUT OF trouble? 

 

As kids get older, I think this distinction becomes more important. There are a fair number of grey areas -- if someone isn't eating lunch, it's probably not my kids' business. However, if that same child is also throwing up in the bathroom at school 2-3 times a day, and talking about how they're fat when they're clearly getting thinner and thinner,  the other child may need help getting out of trouble. I have more resources than my children do for figuring out what to do, and I don't want my kids dealing with it themselves.

post #5 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post
For older kids, I like: Am I telling mom/teacher this to get someone INTO trouble or OUT OF trouble? 


I like that saying for certain scenarios too, but with bullying I can see how it'd be confusing for the child. They might think, "I think the student who hit me should get consequences, so maybe I'd be telling my mom about this so that the bully would get INTO trouble -- I guess I shouldn't say anything." So I think it's important to talk about that specific scenario, and make the sure the child understands that the person they're trying to get OUT OF trouble could even be themselves, and that physical violence should always be reported. 

post #6 of 35
Thread Starter 

Wow, thanks!  I like that approach:  Why are you telling me this -- into vs. out of trouble.  Thank you so much.  That's a good example, too.  I appreciate it!



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post

In addition to working on the concepts of tact and privacy, one of the concepts that I've worked with my daughter on (ds doesn't seem to have this tendency) is to ask:  Why are you telling me this? What do you want me to do?

 

This reduces the amount of complaints that I get about random things (so and so didn't do their homework), but it keeps the flow of info coming. For older kids, I like: Am I telling mom/teacher this to get someone INTO trouble or OUT OF trouble? 

 

As kids get older, I think this distinction becomes more important. There are a fair number of grey areas -- if someone isn't eating lunch, it's probably not my kids' business. However, if that same child is also throwing up in the bathroom at school 2-3 times a day, and talking about how they're fat when they're clearly getting thinner and thinner,  the other child may need help getting out of trouble. I have more resources than my children do for figuring out what to do, and I don't want my kids dealing with it themselves.

post #7 of 35

Not *precisely* relevant to this post, but maybe handy in some situations:  Sometimes there is a fine line between tattling and venting.  (Tattling usually begins with a whinny, "Maaaameee!"  eyesroll.gif )  If I sense that the purpose is neither to get someone into trouble nor out of it, but simply to complain about an injustice -- perceived or otherwise -- I have been known to take a sympathetic but passive stance.  "That must be frustrating"; "I'm sure that must have hurt"; "How did you feel when that happened?", etc.  I find that often there is no need to solve anything and once they get out their feelings, it blows over. 

 

I know the OP situation is somewhat different, as he was publicly trying to shame/indict someone, but once you get him to be more tactful, it can be helpful to let them blow off steam without either dismissing or stoking their emotions.  If the child is complaining about someone's behavior that does not affect them ("George kicked Sally and got in trouble") you can start teaching about gossip.  winky.gif

post #8 of 35

My 5 year old is in preschool instead of kindergarten, but it's still the same type of thing. She just wants to tell me everything. It's not to get anyone in trouble. It's just it happened so she wants to share it. If some one has been hitting her or her friends, she wants it to stop. So telling someone's parent or telling the teacher means an adult can help it stop happening. We don't do punitive consequences so she doesn't expect people to get into trouble.  I really don't think kids should be discouraged from telling an adult if someone is being hurt in any way. When I think of tattling I think of someone telling an adult about small victimless offenses just to get the other person in trouble. It's not because the child needs to let people know she's been hurt, it's not out of a need for justice, it's a spiteful act to cause trouble or drama. I don't think the OP's child was really tattling. I think telling those in authority if some one's been violent toward you is a good idea.

post #9 of 35

I don't think that is tattle telling because he would have been telling to keep himself safe from a child tripping him.  Are children only supposed to be safe from other kids purposely hurting them if they are lucky enough to have friends who notice and go get the teacher?  That doesn't make a lot of sense as a rule and I would bring this up with the teacher. 

 

When this has happened with my dd I have said I was sorry that the child did that and asked if she talked to the teacher about it.  I also talk to her about how to word things when she talks to the teacher so her teacher knows she has tried to get the behavior to stop on her own and now needs help from her teacher finding a solution because I don't think it is wrong for a child to expect other children to not hit or verbally torment them (for a prolonged period of time) at school.  I think his reaction was completely understandable.  A child hurt him and he was very angry and hoped she would get in trouble.  Wishing bad things on people who hurt us is very normal.  I haven't said anything on the few occasions when my dd has told parents what their kid did to her.  I think it is great that she knows she shouldn't be hurt and knows that the parents should be doing something about their child hitting in first grade (though I  hoped they would teach rather than punish).  Our situation was different because the boy was a bully and had been for over a year, but I was happy that she felt confident enough in her rights as a human being to take her complaint to someone in authority over him. 

post #10 of 35

I would totally expect my child to tell  me if another child pushed them, yelled at them or tripped them. I wouldn't expect my child to put up with that behavior, to just take and keep their mouth shut.

 

May be it's because I have girls not boys, but the whole "just take it and keep your mouth shut" attitude creeps me out. The "don't tattle" nonsense sets kids up for predators. (I know the little girl in the story is just a kid who is still learning to behave, but what you say to your child *could* have an impact on how easy it is for an adult to manipulate him).

 

The other child's behavior would be considered a discipline issue at my kids' school. It's just not OK to treat people like that. You don't need to apologize to another parent because their kid is still learning how to behave.

 

And it's really OK to be angry when someone treats you badly. It's OK to channel that anger in words to adults rather than in actions toward the other child. I think your kid did fine.

 

I think it's far safer to tell our kids they can always tell us everything. I listen to all the little nonsense, and just do active listening and let them process. Instead of "don't tell me that,"  I say things like "you sound really angry."

 

(You might mention talking to you quietly, and letting the teacher talk to the other child's parent)

post #11 of 35

Interesting discussion!

 

OP, I don't mean to disagree with your notion that your kiddo was telling on the perp in order to get her in trouble--you know your son, so I'll take that as a given.  I'm interested, though, because sometimes my DS, also 5 and in kinder, also tells us when things like what you describe happen to him.  My thought is that he feels the need to point out when someone else's behavior is a breach of the rules.  I try to treat it with a "and what did you do about that?" rxn as a reminder that he _can_ handle most situations on his own--and that's been an interesting process this year after last year's pre-school environment in which every interaction was supervised and facilitated by the adults (as was appropriate for the age).  

 

I liked the "why are you telling me this?"  approach suggested here.  I'll definitely ask that question next time this happens in our family!

 

Finally, if my kid were the one your son was "tattling" on, _I_ would have apologized--instead of your doing so!  I don't think YOU have to say you're sorry to the other parent.  The kids are just five and this is totally normal, IMO.

post #12 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by limabean View Post

I like that saying for certain scenarios too, but with bullying I can see how it'd be confusing for the child. They might think, "I think the student who hit me should get consequences, so maybe I'd be telling my mom about this so that the bully would get INTO trouble -- I guess I shouldn't say anything." So I think it's important to talk about that specific scenario, and make the sure the child understands that the person they're trying to get OUT OF trouble could even be themselves, and that physical violence should always be reported. 

 

I agree -- which is why I said that I'd try this with an older child. It's worked really well with a neighbor's 8 year old, who did tattle to get kids into trouble. But if it's yourself - you get to tell me any time. But since 5-6 year olds tend to be very black and white thinkers, they sometimes report every little rule violation, even when it doesn't involve them.
 

post #13 of 35

Your son is telling on someone who is trying to hurt him. If she had tripped him,and he gashed his head on the table corner I guess it would be OK for him to tell? I think he is being wise to tell so that teachers/parents can correct their childrens behavior BEFORE injury.

 

When my ds was 5 and in K kids would push,kick,pinch,,and step on his fingers among other things. It was so lame that everyday this would happen,ds would tell the teacher,and the other child was told," Don't do that again." Over and over each new day. It was a very sad experience.All he wanted was for kids to stop hurting him,so he could enjoy his time at school. Telling wasn't about *getting back* at the other kid so they would get in trouble.

 

Adults should correct improper behavior not just say," Stop it.".Many teachers simply do not want to deal with the physical issues that arise in kids.They find it easier to ignore and/or tell the victim," I told you not to tattle." Eventually kids that are hurt stop telling adults ANYTHING and just suffer in silence.

 

To me tattling would be something along the lines of: I saw so and so cheating,writing on the table,tearing up a book,or stealing John's pencil.

post #14 of 35

I was thinking about this after I went to bed last night and all the little things my kids (who are now 12 and 14) have told me over the years that could have fallen into the "just to get someone else in trouble" zone, but that I'm glad they mentioned.

  • One of our neighber's has guns that are not stored properly.
  • One family considered their 16 year old an adult, and would leave their kids and our (who were 6 and 8) at the time, in her care and not tell us, even though their 16 year old was irresponsible and would just sit outside and smoke.
  • One time at a slumber party, after the parents went to the sleep, the kids put on R rated movies (they were all about 10).

 

Lots of little stuff, and most of it things I couldn't do anything about after the fact. But I'm glad that my kids mentioned these things. I'm glad that I could at least TALK to my kids about it.

 

I think telling kids that if another child does something wrong DON'T TELL ME is a really bad lesson. I just don't see what good can come of that.

post #15 of 35

Gosh, I'm not seeing a lot here about empowering the kids to work it out themselves. That's what happens in our school. It is facilitated by teachers as needed, but we need to teach the kids how to let another kid know that they don't like something. It's not all about bullying, although, of course that can be a component, but sometimes it's about games getting out of control. You might have a game of chase which was really fun for awhile, but then it got old for one child and that child needs to be able to communicate to the other child, "I'm tired. I'm done. I don't like this any more," and not have to run "tattle" on the child to the teacher or a parent.

 

In the OP's situation, if my child came to me and said that another child had "pushed me, yelled at me, and tried to trip me" I would ask my child first if he/she was hurt. Assuming not, I would then ask what happened when this occurred. Did the other child push and yell and try to trip because my child took her book or insulted her drawing or wouldn't let her play with the soccer ball? Then I'd ask my child what s/he said to the other child when the other child pushed and yelled and tried to trip him/her. I'd offer some suggestions, "I don't like that, please stop, what's wrong?", etc. It really sounds like in this situation the kids need some coaching on how to deal with each other when they're not happy with the other's behavior. I don't think telling the teacher or parent is wrong, but they need to talk to each other first.

post #16 of 35
Thread Starter 

OP here.  There's a lot here that I'm thinking about, and I appreciate your responses.

 

I do need to make some things abundantly clear:

 

---  I do encourage my children to tell me about things that happen at school:  the good, the bad, and the ugly.  All of it.  This is not a post about me sticking my fingers in my ears and saying LALALA and "Unless you're bleeding or dying, don't tell me!"  I want my children to communicate with me.

 

---  I could have been more specific about this in my first post:  the girl bumped into my child in line, witnessed by the teacher, and tried stepping around him.  What my child stated was how he interpreted it.  I do encourage my children to tell me about this kind of thing; the teacher and I had a conference earlier in the year when my son reported that another child was repeatedly pushing, etc., and the purpose of this is to make sure that the kids are learning about appropriate contact and in order to prevent any bullying situations.  I was absolutely not dismissing the physical contact between my child and this girl and trying to minimize it simply telling him to stop it and suck it up.

 

 

 

There are nine children in ds's class, including him.  The teacher is very well aware of all of the kids' interactions and actions, and she is not only a good teacher, she's a mother of four.  We are on the same page as far what is appropriate and inappropriate, and my husband and I have met with her to make sure this is the case --- really, I'm not trying to encourage an environment of teaching kids to suck it up and fight it out amongst themselves at age five and don't tell me unless someone's dying.

 

The reason I posted is because to me, "tattletaling" is when a child is deliberately, publically, and usually fairly loudly trying to call attention and shame on another child in retaliation for a perceived offense, out of spite.  I do not think it is the simple matter of "He hit me" ...because I do want to know about that.

 

I really am not telling my kids "Don't tell me!" --- it was simply the WAY he went about it and the manner in which he did it.

 

I do appreciate the constructive advice here about different ways I can talk with my child about this.  Thank you.

post #17 of 35

Without having read the whole thread, i just wanted to say, that im all for keeping  the lines of communication open with my kids, and i dont really understand what 'tattletaling' means, except as a way to diminish the importance of what a child has to say.

 

If their motive is to get someone in trouble, just for the sake of it, then address that issue separately.  

 

 

 

 

 

post #18 of 35

Things like tone of voice can mean the difference between "I want the whole world to know" and "I'm trying to get her in trouble". Regardless of the tone though, I'd probably respond with questions "Did you ask her to stop pushing?" "Do you think she was angry or could it have been an accident?" "Did you guys work it out?" "Did you tell your teacher?" and so forth. It does sound like you have a really good teacher. I have told my DD that she should tell her teacher or teachers, we have parent volunteers each class, and not talk to another child's parent about stuff. Talking to the other child's parent is an adults job if it needs to be done. So far my DD hasn't gone to her classmates parents with any negative stuff, but she doesn't have any tack at all when it comes to just announcing to the world the details of her day bad and good. She's really just telling me, but she's loud. Most of her 4 and 5 year old preschool classmates are loud too. 

 

I think it's really common for kids to have completely different realities about the same occurrence. It can be difficult to get them to understand the other kids point of view but when it happens understanding the other side of things can help a child be less emotional when things do happen.

post #19 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by contactmaya View Post

Without having read the whole thread, i just wanted to say, that im all for keeping  the lines of communication open with my kids, and i dont really understand what 'tattletaling' means, except as a way to diminish the importance of what a child has to say.

 

If their motive is to get someone in trouble, just for the sake of it, then address that issue separately.  

 

 

 

 

 

Tattling is when I used to say "Mom sister is drinking pickle juice ..... out of the JAR!!!" just because I was annoyed with my younger sister. Or some third grader telling his teacher "mswhoever" thatkid is drawing instead of doing his work". The action really isn't harming anyone. It's not really the tattlers business. And it's said to cause drama or get someone in trouble. Kids seem to do it because they are bored or annoyed with the kid they are telling on or maybe just like drama. A good response is to tell the tattler to mind their own business or ignore it. Tattling seems to reach a peak during preteen years and then as the importance of peer relations rises it mostly goes away.
 

post #20 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by hopefulfaith View Post

 the girl bumped into my child in line, witnessed by the teacher, and tried stepping around him.  What my child stated was how he interpreted it.  I do encourage my children to tell me about this kind of thing; the teacher and I had a conference earlier in the year when my son reported that another child was repeatedly pushing, etc.,.

 

it sounds more like the problem is that he blows things out of proportion, and sees himself as a victim.  I don't think labeling this behavior as tattling is helpful for him. I don't think it helps him learn to process any better. Instead, it shuts down the conversation.

 

Have you tried just practicing active listening and seeing where the conversation goes?
 

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