“Mom, Josh is ….”
“Dad, tell Sophia to stop…”
“She touched me!”
“He looked at me!”
Tattling… it’s enough to drive a parent crazy! Tattling is aggravating. But telling can be good. What’s the difference?
To get a handle on tattling and to train children to tell, they need to know the difference between the two. “Telling is a report that gets someone out of a harmful or hurtful situation. Tattling is a means to hurt the person being reported.”1 Tattling is meant to get a person into trouble. Telling is to assist in getting someone out of trouble.
Here are two examples:
1. Billy and Sydney are playing Legos when all of a sudden Billy comes dashing to his dad, “Sydney is being mean. Tell her to stop using the yellow Legos. I want the yellow Legos. “ Billy’s comments are meant to get the other child in trouble. This is tattling.
2. Big sister Ava is reading a book and notices her younger brother playing with matches on the hearth. She comes running to her mom, “Mommy, Sammy found a matchbox by the fireplace and is playing with the matches.” This little girl is telling to keep her brother safe.
The best response is to ask a question, “Will what you’re going to say get someone in trouble or out of trouble?” Children will be able to discern the difference quickly. Praise the child who notices and comes alongside someone in need.
Some kids are police officers at heart, making sure their siblings and friends are sticking to the rules. Others will tattle if it improves their own situation. Children will learn the difference of tattling and telling if Mom and Dad take the time to define the terms. When a situation arises ask one simple question, “Will what you’re going to say to me get someone in trouble or out of trouble?” Hopefully this tactic will help alleviate the tattling in your family!
1. Lori Wildenberg & Becky Danielson, Raising Little Kids with Big Love, Friendswood: Bold Vision Books, 2014, p. 152.
Becky Danielson, M.Ed., has two best job descriptions, wife and mom. She is also a licensed Parent & Family Educator and co-founder of 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting and the co-author of THE FIRST CORITHINIANS 13 PARENTING SERIES: Raising Little Kids with Big Love and Raising Big Kids with Supernatural Love along with Study Guides. The series is available on Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com. Becky and her family live in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Subscribe to 1Corinthians13Parenting.com and beckydanielson.com for FREE parenting tips, strategies, and resources.
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