I was recently privy to a conversation, which included several moms, when the subject of tattling came up. It was interesting, to me at least, to listen in as two of the moms weighed in (amicably, I might add) on the subject with different opinions. One of the Moms allows tattling and the other does not. Both had compelling reasons for her stance.
Of course, everyone has heard the phrase, “No one likes a tattle tale.”
And chances are you’ve also heard someone mutter “don’t be a tattle tale” at some point in your life. But, really, have you ever given the subject much thought? I know I hadn’t. I mean, my kids are just two and three, so I hadn’t had much cause to ponder tattling.
In the last week, though, I have thought about it. Quite a bit, actually.
Then, lo and behold, my children presented me with a real life scenario. As I washed dishes in the kitchen, the kids were playing in the living room. Soon enough, crying ensued. Suffice it to say, one wanted the toy that the other had. When said toy was not handed over, pinching commenced. The response to said pinching was biting. The result? Both were crying, and I was left to sort out the fray (fortunately, neither was actually hurt, save a few red marks).
A snippet of my sorting…
Me, to Mister, “Did you bite your sister?”
“Yes, but Sissy pinched me,” he replied, pointing to a red mark.
“Why did Sissy pinch you?” I queried.
“Because she wanted this,” he said holding up a toy.
“Did you pinch your brother?” I asked her.
“Why?” I asked.
She stared back at me, pouting.
“Why did you pinch your brother?”
“Mine,” she said pointing to the toy.
Looking at the toy, “No, Sissy, this isn’t yours.”
To Mister, “You know, if you had told Mommy that Sissy pinched you, she would be in trouble, and you would have your toy. But, since you bit her instead, now I have to take the toy, and both of you have to go in time out.”
So there it is. I allow tattling.
Of course, I think I need to set some ground rules for tattling. I mean, a tale is generally viewed as an intentionally untrue narrative… such as tall tale. I don’t want my kids telling tall tales on each other, just to get each other in trouble. I do want them to learn to “work it out,” but, I also want them to know that they can come to me and tell me when something is wrong.
So, I think my rules are going to be something like this…
When tattling, only tell the the truth and only tattle if *someone (i.e. your sibling or anyone else)…
- hurts you
- tries to hurt you
- does something dangerous
- is intentionally disobeying set rules
- is intentionally destroying something
Of course, the list is a work in progress, since they are just two and three. I am quite certain it will be revised at least five hundred seventy four times within the next ten years.
What are your thoughts? Do you allow tattling? If not, why? If so, when and how?