If you have a couple kids around the house, there is going to be tattling. What do you do? Here are some common responses:
*Become the referee and find out which kid is more deserving of punishment and punish or talk the offender myself and ask them to stop their behavior.
*Inform the tattler they should not be a “tattle tale.”
*Tell the tattler to “get over it.”
*Yell at both kids to get it together.
With five kids in my house, I’ve had my share of falling into all of the previously mentioned answers to tattling.
*When I referee, I’m communicating the following: taking sides and telling my kids they aren’t responsible for or capable of resolving their own relationship issues.
*When I tell my kids not to tattle, all this does is bring them shame and makes them less open to me in the future.
*Asking them to just “get over it” does the same thing.
*When I yell I have created a non-safe atmosphere suggesting the children are an inconvenience to me.
Here is my connected response to tattling.
Kid: “Mom!!! I was reading that book, you asked me to get up and do my chore and when I came back, she took it and now SHE is reading it!!!”
Me: “That sounds super frustrating. I’m sorry that happened.”
Often times, that is ALL my kid needs from me.
Sometimes, I might add: “How are going to tackle this?” Or “Need some help brainstorming some ways to talk to your sister?”
This approach makes known that I care about the situation. There is a clear message that I believe in my child to solve his own problems. Not only do I believe he is capable, but I’m communicating that HE is responsible for his relationships. I’m available to help if he gets stuck. He leaves our interaction feeling cared for and equipped to own his relationships and interactions. It’s rather simple.
Try it and let me know how it goes for you. Happy parenting!