Why Do Kids Tattle – And What to Do About It

No one likes a tattletale. But, unfortunately, it is common for kids to go through a phase where they tattle on their friends or siblings. While it is normal for kids to tattle occasionally, it becomes an issue when it is constant. For instance, it can affect them socially as other children will not want to play with them. For parents, it is a tricky situation to handle. First, you must identify the reasons behind your child’s constant tattling. Then, you have to come up with ways to address the issue. Let us help you out.

They Don’t Understand.

Often, children tattle because they do not understand why other children are not obeying the rules. As adults, we know that not every home functions the same way. But, kids think everyone is under the same rules. Therefore, if a friend breaks one of your home rules, they feel like the adults should be alerted, so the child can suffer the same consequences the tattler would. Additionally, children struggle when they perceive things as being unfair.

They are Mad.

There are also times when children tattle just because they are mad. For instance, if a child takes a toy, the other child may tell their parents because they are upset that this happened. In some cases, the child may tattle purposely to get the other child in trouble. As the parent, you will need to get to the root of the issue.

They Want Control.

Children are always looking for opportunities to be in control – and tattling is one of those times when they get to feel like they have power. Tattling is a power play, and a way for them to dominate over their siblings and peers by showing how they did right and someone else did wrong.

How to Handle Tattling:

  • Discuss when it is and is not appropriate. You never want to make your children feel like they can never tell you when someone is doing something wrong (such as when someone is doing something that is hurtful or can cause pain). However, you want to explain that they do not have to tell you every single time someone does something that upsets them.
  • Give clear examples. As discussed previously, you must give your children examples of occasions when you should and should not tattle. For example, when your child tattles, point it out and discuss why it was not appropriate.
  • Talk about how it makes them feel. Children also need to consider how tattling makes them feel. Turn the tables and ask them how it makes them feel when someone tells on them. This conversation will also open the doors to talk about how tattling can negatively affect them socially.
  • Teach kids to take care of things on their own. Rather than tattling, teach your kids to stand up for themselves and speak out against wrongdoings.

Tattling is a nuisance, but it is typically a passing phase. Once you understand why your child is telling on others, you can begin to handle it.

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