• Each child goes through different stages of things that they do that are considered annoying. Right now, my daughter, who is five and a half has started her “tattle tale” phase. At the moment I feel like it might be the most frustrating phase of all. It’s a delicate situation after all. I want her to tell me if someone is doing something dangerous, or just plain wrong. But I don’t want her to come running to me every time her brother looks at her funny. Dealing with tattling has definitely been a trial for me.

    I don’t want her to come running to me every time her brother looks at her funny

    The key for us has been to not get mad (or exasperated) with her no matter what is going on. I don’t ever want her to feel scared to come talk to me. Especially if it is something that she thinks is important. As parents we have to understand that when a kid tattles (especially young kids) its because they know a rule that is being broken. My daughter is a great rule follower, her younger brother however, is the exact opposite. When she tattles on her brother I try to give her ways to fix the problem herself. If her brother took a toy, she simply asks for it back. If that doesn’t work, I encourage her to find a compromise. Something along the line of, “Here you play with this for five minutes, while I play with for next.” Most of the time that is enough. The more we go through this scenario the better she becomes at dealing with the problems herself.

    My daughter is also quick to point out when other kids are allowed to do things that she isn’t. So and so gets to play outside without a parent. To this, I simply explain that other people have different rules, and we do what’s right for us. Our family is what matters, and therefore we have rules that work for us. And of course, if her tattling is actually about someone being dangerous, I make sure to praise her so she knows that she has in fact made the right decision. As annoying as it can be, try to not punish the tattler. Most often they just need a touch of guidance or reassurance. For older kids who are using tattling to gain something, or get another person in trouble, things get more complicated. Do your best to figure out what’s really going on and again, encourage kids to figure out a solution. Give them a few starter ideas on how to begin and unless it’s harmful or dangerous, let them figure it out for themselves.