Teaching a tattler – Part 2

Understanding the difference between tattling and informing

In Part 1 of Teaching a Tattler, I talked about the difference between tattling and informing. In this post, we’ll discuss training and follow up strategies.

Take time for training

boy dressed as policeman

After explaining tattling versus informing, role-play scenarios to reinforce the difference to your kids. For example, you could start by saying to your child, “Let’s pretend that you and Sam are playing outside, and Sam won’t let you play with his basketball. You come to me to tell me that Sam won’t share the ball. Is this tattling or informing?” This scenario is a prime example of tattling, as the goal of the action is to get Sam in trouble. Follow up each scenario by helping your child brainstorm ways that she could solve the problem on her own, instead of tattling.

On the other hand, what if your child told you that six year-old Sam was playing in the street with his basketball? Informing is the correct response this time, as Sam’s actions put him in a dangerous situation.

Follow-up strategy
After explaining and training, we can now set the standard for our children. Let your children know that the tattling department is closed. Make sure they understand that from this point on, you expect that they will limit their “I’m telling!” communications to informing rather than tattling.

If your child forgets, ask him, “Are you telling me that to get your brother in trouble, or are you trying to help him?” Most kids will respond that they are trying to help. You can then say something like, “Okay, let’s focus on solutions to his problem. What ideas do you have to help him out?” If it’s a simple sibling argument, reply with, “I have confidence that you two can work it out.” Then, give them a chance to do so.

By creating a distinction between tattling and informing, we can help our kids know when to come to us and when they can solve problems on their own. Focusing on problem solving helps our children develop a lifelong skill.
Now that’s something to tell!

What other tips do you have to curb tattling?

About the Author

Amy McCready
Nationally recognized parenting expert Amy McCready is the Founder of Positive Parenting Solutions and the best selling author of The “Me, Me, Me” Epidemic - A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World and If I Have to Tell You One More Time…The Revolutionary Program That Gets Your Kids to Listen Without Nagging, Reminding or Yelling. As a “recovering yeller” and a Certified Positive Discipline Instructor, Amy is a champion of positive parenting techniques for happier families and well-behaved kids. Amy is a TODAY Show contributor and has been featured on CBS This Morning, CNN, Fox & Friends, MSNBC, Rachael Ray, Steve Harvey & others. In her most important role, she is the proud mom of two amazing young men.