Mom, She’s Being Bad!”


I don’t know where you are and what you’re doing but I am travelling to the desert to visit with my brother and sister-in-law.  They also have five grandchildren and I hope to meet them all.While I am relaxing, visiting and holidaying I thought I’d help you deal with the vexing issue of tattling. This drives most of us crazy so let’s see if we can deal with it.

Tattling or Telling: What’s the Difference?

Andrea and her friends are playing happily in the family room. You can hear the voices of the three eight-year-olds as they hold a tea party with themselves and all their dolls and stuffed toys. They are clearly having a great time.

But suddenly Andrea’s friend Ashley comes running into the kitchen. “Andrea and Justine aren’t playing fair,” she announces.

You look up and you can tell this is another case of Ashley tattling on the other kids. Ashley has a look of righteous indignation. “You need to come and tell them to behave!” she announces.

This is a clear case of tattling. Handling tattling is frustrating. The tattler is convinced that she is in the right and that it’s important that you come and deal with the misbehaving kids. You can almost see her rubbing her hands with glee as she considers that her friends are going to be in trouble.

Or, Andrea and her friends are playing happily in the family room. You can hear the voices of the three eight-year-olds as they hold a tea party with themselves and all their dolls and stuffed toys. They are clearly having a great time.

But then, Andrea’s friend Ashley comes running into the kitchen. “Justine dropped a glass onto the floor and there is glass everywhere.”  This is clearly not a case of tattling, she is telling. Her demeanor is one of concern and fright. She knows this is serious and someone could be hurt.

And that’s the difference between tattling and telling.

When a child wants to get other kids in trouble, she is tattling, when she sees that someone is in trouble and needs protection or is going to wreck someone else’s property, that is telling.

You can usually tell the difference by the attitude of the child. The tattler has her halo glowing with righteous indignation. The teller is clearly frightened and needs help.

That being said, how do you deal with a child who tattles?

First, consider why they do it. Some consider it is their responsibility to save the world from all wrongs and need to have an adult to help deal with the offender, and some want to be labeled the good kid.

The best way to handle a tattler is to refuse to engage. If this is the first time she has tattled just let her know that she is tattling and you don’t want to deal with that.

Don’t give her eye contact, just keep on doing whatever you were doing. You can ignore her or just say, “ummm”. Or you can say, “I bet you kids can work it out together.”

If you can hear that the problem is accelerating, go to the family room and summarize the situation without any blame. Make a subtle suggestion or two and then let them work it out. For example, “I see that there are three girls here with three dolls and three stuffed toys. I know you guys can figure out how to make this work.”

When you have a group of kids over to play and you know that one is a tattler try to nip the problem in the bud. At the point at which you realize she will usually show up, you go in with a treat or game suggestion.

If you are having an ongoing problem with a specific child who loves to tattle there are some steps you can take. Make sure you are paying attention to her when she’s not tattling. Get her involved in a project where she can be successful and feel good about herself. Teach her, and the group she plays with how to problem solve. Have them think about a problem and discuss options. What could they do? How could they handle it differently?

Once Ashley no longer feels the need to tattle she will be a happier child and you will enjoy having her in your home.

Bring Kathy to your Community

Kathy is always happy to come and speak in your community, at you event or as a workplace wellness presentation. On her website  you can find more information on her material.

My presentations will share a basic value that I call

P.U.R.E. Parenting.

P — is a parenting plan

U — is unconditional love

R — is respect for your child as he is right now

E — is encouragement

Digital Books Make Parenting Information More Accessible.

There are times when digital is the perfect answer and let’s face, on a holiday having access to hundreds of books on one small tablet is ideal. I will have my kindle with me on the trip.

There are lots of times when a busy parent would like to be able to simply read and my books are digital and make it easier for you to take a look.

Two of my parenting books started as print versions but the third is only digital. The first two are also now in digital format. Who’s in Charge Anyway? talks about roots. It provides a clear road map for parent to focus on the tough but rewarding job of raising children to be responsible, self-disciplined adults.

But Nobody Told Me I’d Ever Have to Leave Home talks about raising children to become capable young men and women.

I am told the books are down to earth and common sense as well as easy to read. If you want some basic parenting tips and information these books are a good place to start.







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2 Responses to Mom, She’s Being Bad!”

  1. Lorraine Barner says:

    Spot on information as always Kathy ! Thanks !

  2. Jennifer says:

    I strongly believe we should never label a child as a “tattler”, and we should never just dismiss it. I agree, we should not feed into it by jumping into the situation to handle it for them, but instead, use it as a learning moment. Take the time to discuss the situation they’re dealing with, and encourage them to think of possible solutions on their own. Gently guide them and teach them. Don’t ignore, dismiss or label them as all you will do is very effectively shut down any communication with you in the future, which is a message you don’t want to give them. As the care-giving adults, we need our children to feel like they can ALWAYS approach you to ask for our help or assistance on anything. It starts with these small problems now (which seem very trivial or annoying to us, but big for them), however, it means that when the bigger issues occur later, which is when we really want them to come speak with us, they won’t hesitate to do so because you’ve always allowed them to come speak with you, no matter what.

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