6 Ways to Stop Your Child From Being a Tattletale

Stop children from tattling
Blend Images - KidStock / Brand X Pictures / Getty Images

Tattling is a common problem among preschool and elementary school kids. If left unchecked, tattling can turn into a bigger problem. Kids who become known as tattletales may struggle to maintain friendships and may have difficulty winning favor with adults. If your child has started to making tattling a habit, it’s important to intervene fast.

Here are six discipline strategies that can effectively stop tattling in its tracks:

1. Explain the Difference Between Tattling and Telling

Kids often struggle to tell the difference between tattling and telling. Explain the types of incidents and rule violations that should be reported to an adult – such as a safety issue. Talk about how tattling on a child for minor issues can interfere with friendships and cause more problems. When your child tattles, use it as a teachable moment to help your child distinguish between tattling and telling.

2. Role Play Various Scenarios

Role playing can serve as an excellent teaching tool that can help your child develop an understanding of what constitutes tattling. Role play specific situations to ensure that your child has a good understanding of the types of behavior that should be reported to an adult.

Engage in pretend situations and ask, “What would you do if this really happened?” Role play scenarios that involve bullying or serious rule violations and make sure that your child recognizes when it’s appropriate to seek help from an adult.

3. Teach Problem-Solving Skills

If your child tattles on other children because he struggles to handle situations on his own, help him learn to problem-solve alternatives for tattling. For example, if he tattles because a friend cut in front of him in line, talk to him about how he can use his words to tell his friend that he was there first.

Use incidents of tattling to teach your child essential skills that he may be lacking.

4. Investigate the Motivation Behind Tattling

While some kids are motivated by revenge, others tattle as a way to seek attention. It’s important to consider why your child is squealing on other kids. Ask questions and do a little investigating to see if you can uncover why your child tattles. When you understand the reason, address the problem accordingly and teach your child healthy ways to deal with uncomfortable feelings that may be at the root of the problem.

5. Provide Plenty of Positive Attention

Positive attention can often reduce tattling. Set aside a few minutes each day to play with your child. During your time together, let your child take the lead. Build with blocks, play with dolls, run around outside, or do whatever your child wants. Just ten minutes of your undivided attention can reinforce good behavior and reduce attention seeking behavior, like tattling.

6. Praise Your Child for Appropriate Telling

When your child reports something to you, whether he tells you his brother is looking at inappropriate websites or that he’s being bulled on the bus, make it clear that you are very pleased he came forward.

Praise him for telling an adult when it's appropriate to do so.

It’s essential that you send the message that when in doubt, tell an adult. If your child tattles, point out to him that he's tattling but avoid handing out a consequence. Doing so could discourage your child from coming forward in the event of a serious situation. Over time, with appropriate coaching and discipline, your child will learn to discern what constitutes tattling and it’s likely to subside over time.

Continue Reading