Tattletaling - what is your approach to this? - Mothering Forums

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Old 02-24-2011, 11:15 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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.


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Old 02-24-2011, 11:34 AM
 
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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.)

 


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Old 02-24-2011, 12:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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.)

 




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Old 02-24-2011, 01:55 PM
 
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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.


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Old 02-24-2011, 04:47 PM
 
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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. 


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Old 02-24-2011, 04:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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.




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Old 02-24-2011, 05:14 PM
 
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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


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Old 02-24-2011, 05:34 PM
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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.

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Old 02-24-2011, 06:04 PM
 
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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. 

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Old 02-24-2011, 08:29 PM
 
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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)


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Old 02-24-2011, 09:02 PM
 
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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.

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Old 02-24-2011, 11:23 PM
 
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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.
 


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Old 02-25-2011, 05:43 AM
 
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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.

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Old 02-25-2011, 07:00 AM
 
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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.


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Old 02-25-2011, 07:21 AM
 
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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.


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Old 02-25-2011, 09:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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.


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Old 02-25-2011, 03:10 PM
 
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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.  

 

 

 

 

 

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Old 02-25-2011, 03:14 PM
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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.

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Old 02-25-2011, 03:26 PM
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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.
 

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Old 02-25-2011, 04:28 PM
 
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Quote:
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 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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Old 02-25-2011, 05:58 PM
 
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So I haven't read the whole thread.  But anyway, my approach has been to try to distinguish between "tattling" and "telling".  You tell someone when you are afraid or really hurt, or when someone else is hurt, or when you're afraid someone will be hurt.  If it's just because you want someone to get in trouble, then it's tattling.  And it's ok to tell me in private about anything at all, but the dragging over to the dad part would be the tattling issue.  Telling me when we get in the car would not be tattling.  Telling me alone is to tell me about her day, telling me in front of the dad is to tattle to get her in trouble.

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Old 02-25-2011, 06:47 PM
 
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It sounds like the problem is more that he has a problem seeing a situation as an accident, many kids have the same problem.  I don't know that anti-tattling techniques will really be that helpful because he probably doesn't realize what he is doing.  At that age my dd truly wasn't able to distinguish between accident or on purpose so telling her that sometimes it was okay to tell me what happened and sometimes it wasn't didn't seem like a good solution because she wasn't able to distinguish.  I asked her questions about the whole situation: what happened, how it happened, what the child said about what happened, what she did to stand up for herself, how it went, whether she got help for a teacher or not, and how she felt now.  It was usually really obvious when it was an accident that she was blowing out of proportion because she would say the child said it was an accident.  She was also able to work a lot of things out for herself without intervention because she knew the sequence her school teaches and was very vocal about standing up for herself in any case.  I also would ask her how she would feel if she did something on accident and someone got mad at her because they thought it was on purpose and I helped her work through deciding if something was really a big issue or could be let go of.  It takes a long time for kids to learn to see another person's point of view and for them to accept that when people accidently bump them it isn't a malicious act. 

 

At five kids are still very focused on their emotions even if they seem to be doing wonderfully with group skills in all other ways.  You might find the book Raising A Thinking Child helpful.  I read the second book in the series, Raising a Thinking Pre-Teen and really loved how the author writes and sets the book up so it is easy to follow.  She walks families through exercises they can do together to help kids see things from other people's points of view and take other people's emotions, as well as the possibility that two people feel very different feelings even in the same situation, into consideration.

 

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Old 02-26-2011, 02:52 PM
 
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As a kindy teacher, I deal with "tattletelling" ALL THE TIME.  I don't have a problem with kids asking for help with solving problems with their peers, but I don't think that's the same thing as "tattletelling."  To me, the purpose of tattletelling is to get an adult to go over and yell at the other kid and get them in trouble.  I.E.  "TEACHER!  HE THREW HIS BREAKFAST IN THE GREY TRASH CAN" (it's supposed to go in the red one).  That is tattling.  "Teacher, so and so is hitting me."  That is asking for help.  So first, you have to draw a distinction between tattling and asking an adult for help.

 

I do several things with my kiddos.  Not necessarily in this order.  These are just a few tricks that I have found to be helpful.

1.  I will ask them if they are telling me to be helpful or hurtful.  I ask them if they are telling me because they need help or because they want to get the other child in trouble.  They usually tell me they are trying to be helpful.  So then I help them brainstorm ways to help their friend do the right thing.  As in the first example, I might ask if the child tried nicely reminding them that they are supposed to throw their food mess in the red trash can.  I have them practice doing it in a nice tone.  Then I send them to practice it with the "offending" child.

 

2.  If they are telling me that a friend hit/kicked/hurt them or said something mean (and the child is no longer actively doing so).  I will ask the child if they told the friend to stop.  If they say they asked the child to stop, then I asked if the child stopped.  If they say, "yes."  Then I say, "AWESOME!  You solved your own problem!  All by yourself!  You didn't even need to ask for my help!  Give me five!"  And I don't go say anything to the other child, mostly because I figure the other child wasn't really trying to be hurtful if they were respectful enough to stop when asked.  And that asking was all they needed to correct the behavior.  If they say that the friend didn't stop hitting them when they said stop, then I will go over and intervene.

 

3.  I do a lot of role playing to help the children learn how to solve those kinds of problems with their peers (i.e. using assertive tone of voice, saying stop, walking away, etc.).  And what to do if they are having difficulty solving a problem (ask an adult for help), and what to do if they successfully solve a problem (basically that they don't need to tell on the other child if the other child stopped when asked)

 

Now, if there is an ongoing problem... or if a child is in the middle of a situation that they need help with, I step in immediately.  But I don't see these situations as the same as "tattling."

 

ETA:  When I do the whole "You solved your own problem!" thing, it's amazing how quickly it turns the whole situation around.  Offending child has already stopped offending.  And telling child is all of a sudden excited and empowered because s/he is a great problem solver... in the blink of an eye, the problem has completely dissolved.

 

ETA part 2:  I did want to add that if the problem seems to be happening over and over again... i.e. one child is always picking on another child, then that is a different situation and these "tricks" don't really apply


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Old 02-26-2011, 10:34 PM
 
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This is a good book that puts it in words kids can relate to:

 

http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Squeal-Unless-Its-Deal/dp/1591472407

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Old 02-27-2011, 09:47 AM
 
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I didn't read all the replies, but this came up in my dissertation research on social groups of preschoolers, so I'll condense what I found there:

 

1.) Tattling is NORMAL. It happens all over the world (I've read Russian articles on it, etc.) and is is believed to be developmentally linked, so try to put it in the mental category of "it's there" vs "I need to stop this behavior".

 

2.) Tattling is largely about children learning social rules, testing them against your oppinions, seeing your response, etc. So "Joey is spilling water in the bathroom!" could very well mean "Joey is doing something I know is not supposed to happen, but I'm not sure how important it is or how to deal with it!"

 

3.) Tattling, in the preschool realm, is less about power and control and more about learning communication and social norms. In elementary school, the power part may become a more significant issue. That doesn't mean it is LESS about social learning, but it may be a different social learning.

 

As for a response, the best I've seen is when adults use the tattling as a way to understand the situation and what options they have to influence it. Often the strategy is to either a.) Encourage the tattler to talk directly with the tattlee about the offense ("You hurt my feelings." "I was sitting in that chair." and mentor them through the process if they need it) b.) If it is an issue that is best handled by adults, include BOTH children in your explination of why the situation is unsafe, etc.

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Old 02-27-2011, 09:49 AM
 
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I'd like to add that this won't *stop* tattling in preschool, since it is largely developmental. But it helps to serve the underlying issues vs. punishment or expecting a young child to understand the difference between a "tattle" and something important they need to tell you. In blunt terms, young children are not able to do that. In their minds, the tattle IS important. And if you look at the issues that bring to you, I would largely agree with them. Often the underlying issues are equity, fairness, justice, etc. And those DO deserrve to be addressed. So while to us "Suzy took the doll I was playing with!" seems like an insignificant tattle, to THEM it is a very real issue of justice. Ignoring it or telling them not to come to you when they can't solve their problems by themselves is ultimately counter productive to learning.

 

So the frame of mind really has to be to work with it and use it for learning vs. trying to stop it :-)

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Old 02-27-2011, 10:58 AM
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by alexsam View Post

 

Often the underlying issues are equity, fairness, justice, etc. And those DO deserrve to be addressed. So while to us "Suzy took the doll I was playing with!" seems like an insignificant tattle, to THEM it is a very real issue of justice.

 


I like this point. With such a young child, they are still figuring why they should do the right thing when other people don't always. (It's a moral question many adults still ponder!)

 

I also think that the line between on purpose behavior and accidental behavior is very fuzzy to young children. It's quite common for young children to get into trouble for things they did accidental or without thinking, so when we expect them to cut others slack for accidents, it doesn't make sense to them.

 

It's all chances for growth, opportunities to help them become bigger people.


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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Old 02-27-2011, 07:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow, thank you.

 

I appreciate being able to look at this in a developmental context.  Really - thank you.

 

I have a lot to think about here - and without going through and naming names, I do appreciate your help, everyone.  luxlove.gif


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Old 03-02-2011, 07:44 PM
 
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In terms of the sibling relationship - we would stop and ask our kids, "Is this a tattle, or a report?"  A tattle was to get someone in trouble.  A report was to keep yourself, or someone else, or someTHING safe.  

 

Most of the time, the kids would stop and think about it, say, "Oops, this is a tattle, we need to try to work it out first."  They knew/know that we are available to help if they are unable to work it out as siblings.  As they are older now, the approach doesn't seem to have cramped them talking to us about problems they can't solve - but they do try to solve things on their own first.

 

More than anything, I wanted the kids to think about what they were trying to communicate.  With three girls in a row, you can bet that we got a lot of "Maaaaaaaawwwwwwwmmmmmmmmyyyyyyy!!!" shrieks at the top of their lungs.  I really wanted to curb that in terms of tattling, and help them to a) think about what they were communicating and b) foster a more cooperative spirit with problem solving and their siblings.  They haven't killed each other yet at 16, 13, 11 and 9 - the baby just gets doted on :)

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Old 03-07-2011, 06:44 AM
 
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There really isn't one right or wrong way to handle this type of situation. It's yet one more parenting "seat of the pants" situations, IMO. I think it makes sense to find out, first, if anyone was physically hurt. After that, it's a matter of finding out what the child's motivation for telling you is, and why he feels the need to tell you the way he did. And then talking through that with him, however many times it takes.

 

However, running over to tell her Dad? Deciding that she needed a consequence for her behavior? My response to him would have been "Sweetheart? NOT your job." That is up to you and the teacher to handle, if it is necessary.

 

When mine were younger, I pretty much held the line of "unless one of you is bleeding or badly hurt - you need to try and sort out your differences yourselves." If it wasn't working, then they could come to me - but not in a "tattling" sort of way. Tattling got them both in trouble - one for doing, the other for telling. I should likely state, although it seems obvious, that this is for breaking of house rules - not for truly dangerous things. And ya know - kids usually can tell the difference. If one felt they could impose a consequence (or even suggest one for their sibling/friend/whoever? "NOT your job."

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