Tattle Telling - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 12-08-2011, 11:04 AM - Thread Starter
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I have 1 child outside of my relationship that I am currently in. My husband has two children from his previous marriage. We just barely had a baby a few months ago , and we have also gained temp custody of his two children. My daughter, and his daughter are 8 years old. Than the other child is 6. His children love to tattle! Even if it's for no specific reason.


I have just recently noticed his daughter loves to get the other two in trouble or acts as if she's the boss and they have to do everything she says. I thought at first it's because she's so independent and the constant choas she experienced at her previous home. she is either acting out or just loves to start choas! I don't know what to do. We have gone through parenting classes but, they didn't even touch the subject of tattling. And, I didn't think to ask about it because it wasn't happening than. When I first started being a part of their lives this stuff happened than, but than I thought I had them broken of it, but I guess not?...



It's really wearing on me! I don't know what to do . I have tried positive reinforcement, or even being passive. But, I've noticed his daughter loves the attention and the choas she receives from tattling. It's like it gives her some self fulfillment.. It causes tension with my little girl and now she's starting to do it as well. Monkey see monkey do.... She is sometimes down right rude, and disrespectful. She thinks she is the boss of everyone and than when she gets in trouble ie time out or marbles taken out of the jar, she deny's the behavior or explodes and tries to shine the light on someone else's faults... I don't know what to do....



Any suggestions.....???irked.gif

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#2 of 7 Old 12-08-2011, 11:43 AM
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My dd tends to be bossy and she also tattles from time to time.  Her personality is just a bossy one not because she is mean or bad but because she has a take charge personality (just like I do).  I help her learn to curve her bossiness by telling her to rephrase something if it sounds rude and by telling her it is not her job to talk to me in a bossy tone if she goes too much overboard.


For the tattling I have found it is very effective to teach her the difference between telling and tattling.  This is mostly an issue she has at school since the only time she is around other kids is at school and on playdates, but she often tells me things kids do at school that she has told on them for and we use those things as examples in our framework of telling versus tattling.  IMO tattling is when a child is trying to get someone in trouble and telling is when a child is trying to help someone or themselves.  With this girl being an older sibling some of the tattling/telling may stem from her standing up for her little brother and some from frustration because she is accustomed to being in charge of her brother.


She may also just not have the skills to stand up for herself yet, especially if everyone around her allows her tattling to lead to chaos.  If she tells you that one of the children did something to her and you think she can deal with it herself then tell her what she can say to deal with it.  Maybe some rules around how to deal with problems would work out also.  In school I encourage my dd to tell the child to stop, then try to walk away, then if the child follows them to go get help and let the teacher know the steps she has already tried.  Maybe you could teach all of the kids these steps then when you hear tattling ask them if they followed step one and step two before you decide whether to intervene or not.


You might find the book Siblings Without Rivalry very helpful, many people with more that one child have recommended it on this site.  Remember that all of you are dealing with a big adjustment; you no longer get to focus only on the happiness of one child, your daughter is no longer your only child, all of the children are seeing the baby you two produced together and that alone can cause some behavior issues, and your step-daughter now has someone else her age to put up with instead of being the clear one in charge on top of being pulled out of a chaotic situation.  Don't expect a quick fix, find something that you think will feel right for your family and give it a lot of time to work.

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#3 of 7 Old 12-09-2011, 10:51 AM
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I recently heard a child development expert explain how she has started to look at this as an important developmental phase. In her experience child who tattle are starting to learn what is bad and what is good behavior, even though they can't yet display that behavior themselves. She noticed that over her 20+ years that after a tattle phase usually came a better control over themselves. She encourages her students to explain how the behavior is wrong (never blaming them for tattling) and instead asks the child to explain what would be the right behavior. Tells the child to share what she knows with the other children or praises the child for knowingthe right thing and distracts them with something else.

She also suggested that when we discourage a child from tattling we are sending mixed / the wrong messages. Don't we want them to tell us when something really bad happens? They are not yet capable of distinguishing bad behavior from criminal behavior. Before they can make this distinction we have taught by example not to tell on others, something that is certainly car worse then tattling on friends.

Good luck.
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#4 of 7 Old 12-09-2011, 12:51 PM
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I am the oldest of 4 kids and when I was young I had a major problem with tattling. I remember not even realizing what I was doing until  my 2nd grade teacher wrote something about it on my report card. Looking back, I now know it stems from being the eldest child and "feeling" responsible for teaching the youngers how/what to do/act/say/etc. I was definitely a bossy kid and I think that often the oldest child is like this. As adults I think we often expect (and voice this expectation) the oldest child to help take care of the younger kids and I think it can be confusing to children when everyone expects them to be a good example and teach the younger sibs the appropriate way to behave, etc. Anyway, what I'm trying to get at is that I think it can be as simple as sitting with the child and explaining to them that they don't have to always tell an adult, unless of course someone is in danger, and offer the child some appropriate ways to address the situation. Maybe it is not that simple, but I feel like this would have been really helpful to me if someone had sat down and just talked about it with me. I wonder if your stepdaughter even realizes that she is tattling. Good luck!

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#5 of 7 Old 12-11-2011, 07:57 PM
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I've got two "bossy" kids. One phrase that they hear a lot around here is: "Is it your job to worry about this, or my job to worry about this?" Another version of this is "It's your job to worry about your behavior, and it's my job to make sure everyone is safe and respectful." (And my niece got told things like "If you pick your friends up and move them, they won't invite you back." It runs in the family.) My kids needed really firm boundaries on what's MY job and what's their job. That boundary let them relax and be kids.


Another way to approach this that I like is to ask the child "are you trying to get someone out of trouble or someone into trouble?"  I always tell them that if they're in doubt, they should tell me, and I can help them decide. My kids rarely tattle for this reason, but that line worked wonders on one of our neighbors a couple of summers back. Once


Having said all that, I think you've hit the nail on the head in that it's probably an attention issue. It's probably also a control issue. Her life has been chaos lately, and she's trying to control her corner of the world to feel safe. My biggest prescription would be for her dad to spend 30 minutes a day with each of his older children in one-on-one time. Ideally, they'd lead the play and he'd follow. Not only does that get them positive attention, it helps them feel in control in a positive way. (They can direct play, they can't run the household.) If he can't swing that, then he needs to spend 30 minute every other day with each of them. Then he needs to take the baby so you can spend 30 minutes of time with your older child. If kids get positive attention, then they'll have less need to seek negative attention in other ways.


I'd highly recommend "Playful Parenting" -- the title is a bit misleading. Yes, it's about play. But really, it's about attention and how to fill up kids' cups of attention so they don't have to seek it by being negative.

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#6 of 7 Old 12-12-2011, 01:38 PM
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I have a similar issue where the oldest of my BF's kids likes to tattle a lot and now my daughter has seemed to pick up the habit. What I do is when someone tattles I tell them that I don't want to hear about the other kids. If they have something to tell me about themselves, that's fine. But I don't want anyone coming to me or Dad saying, "So and so did this or so and so did that." They can come to me and say, "*I* need help getting my toy back," or something like that. The only exception is if something dangerous is going on. We just started this and it is starting to change, but I think it will take some time for the kids to understand what is appropriate to say and it still gives them attention they may need and in a more positive way I think if you're talking about them and not the other kids.



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#7 of 7 Old 12-12-2011, 02:01 PM
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We have a  tattling policy.  If it's a dangerous action, tell.  If it's going against house rules, tell.  If it is harming to your person and you have asked the other person to stop and they haven't, tell.  If you have been hit, tell.  When telling there will be no yelling or finger pointing.  The whole story must come out even if you have done something wrong too.   


I see a lot of issues getting resolved with out mama intervention... Either way it depends on how they're feeling, not enough sleep, cruddy day at school.  I usually try to get to the bottom of the constant yucky behavior.

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