Tattling can be a real problem for parents and caregivers. Children that tattle often do not see anything wrong with their behavior and can not figure out why other children tend to avoid them. If tattling becomes a problem for you, odds are you want to nip it in the bud and curb tattling as quickly as possible. These simple ways to curb tattling will help do just that whether the tattling is a new problem or one you have been fighting for a while.
Explain to your Child What is Wrong with Tattling
No one wants to be friends with the kid that is going to tattle on them for every little thing. Take the time to explain to your child that tattling is a great way to make your friends not trust you and not want to play with you. While some things are important to tell an adult some things are best left alone for that their friends can have fun being kids and can feel safe coming to them with important things.
Talk to Your Child About What Things Should be Brought to You
There is a difference between reporting something important like a friend or sibling who is hurt and needs help compared to tattling that another kid did something they don’t like. Every little thing doesn’t need to be reported to parents and caregivers. This is a great opportunity to tell your child the story of the boy who cried wolf and how when we tattle people start to ignore us and one day that could lead to someone getting hurt or even worse.
Do Not Give Attention to Tattling
Tattling typically begins around the preschool years, whether they go to daycare or are in kindergarten. It is a phase that every parent or caregiver has to endure but the less attention you give to the behavior the better off you will be. When your child reports something to you that is not truly important don’t give them attention to it. Tattling is often an attention-seeking behavior and when you simply respond “that’s nice” you take away that attention making it more likely your child will stop seeking attention in this form. To help this method work, make a point to give your child more attention to reinforce good behaviors that you do want your child to demonstrate.
Avoid Punishing a Child that did Wrong in Front of the Child that Tattled
Sometimes tattling can be a form of revenge or a way to control another child. To curb this behavior do not punish a child in front of the tattler. While it can be tempting to yell then and there this just gives the tattler the effect they were hoping for and reinforces the tattling behavior.
Use a Mass Punishment that Punishes Both Children When Punishment is Warranted
Instead of having the child that was tattled on taking a time out at the park teach both children to make better choices by enforcing natural consequences. If they behave at the park it is simply time to go home from the park. This teaches the tattler that reporting things that are truly not important isn’t worth doing because it can ruin their run as well without outright punishing the tattler so they don’t fear coming to you for something that is truly important.
Kids have to learn at a young age that there is a time and place when tattling is the right thing to do. Most kids will tattle for trivial reasons and it is important to use this as a learning opportunity so that you can curb tattling. Communication is key in this situation because you don’t want to dismiss a child for tattling for important reasons like behaviors that could result in injury or someone is threatening to self-harm or harm someone else.