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Tattle Tale

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.

tattle tale

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.

tattle tale

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?

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About Virginia

Hi there! My name is Virginia, and I am the author/owner of That Bald Chick. I am a Christian, wife, mother of three, full time homemaker, homeschooler, and ministry volunteer in addition to being a blogger. In my free time *cough* I enjoy reading, writing, taking walks with my family, and listening to music.


  1. I 100% agree with your opinion- and the comic is great!!!

    I never really got it when people said ‘no tattling’ lol, it takes a village these days, moms don’t have 100 eyes! we need a little heads up when something is going wrong

  2. I guess it’s a fine line between considering it tattling or communication. Good point!

  3. I agree with Heather. With my kids I allow it to a point. Most of the time I just tell them that they need to work it out between them if it’s over a toy/activity. Tattling isn’t always 100% truth.

  4. I guess it depends, sometimes I do, sometimes I encourage them to work it out.

  5. I’m totally with you. We allow tattling when someone is in danger of harming themselves, others or property! Otherwise…work it out! BUT we also allow for help in working it out if its asked for properly. With mine being 8 7 and 3 and the 7 year old having SERIOUS middle child syndrome, sometimes he struggles with dealing with a 3 year old. If he comes to us asking for help rather than lashing out when his ‘baby’ brother is trying to take stuff from him etc, I will step in and help him. I’ve seen my nieces develop serious issues dealing with thing themselves and so I don’t see the benefit of making them work it out without teaching them how to, then it simply becomes survival of the fittest and that it not the environment I want my kids growing up in. Who wins shouldn’t be the one that is feared the most.

  6. I don’t generally like tattling. I think that kids (especially siblings close in age) need to learn to work out their disagreements on their own. I also think that they need to stick up for each other and try to protect each other…because as they get older, they will need that protection, and they will need to stick together.

    That said, I do think tattling is necessary if physical harm is done, or if there is a danger of physical harm. I don’t want a simple pinch to end up in an all out fist fight. My kids are 3 and 1, and we go through the same scenarios like the one you posted. My 3 year old will take something from her 1 year old brother, and because he doesn’t talk yet, he lashes out with his teeth. Then she gets hurt and hits him or pushes him down or whatever, and then they’re both crying. I keep trying to tell her that she can really hurt him because he is so little, but she doesn’t care. So I have told her that if he does something that bothers her (like trying to play with what she is playing with), instead of pushing him away or yelling at him, just ask me to come get him. This way he doesn’t get mad and bite, and then she doesn’t retaliate.

    I have a brother that is 20 months younger than me and we fought like crazy growing up, so I’m sure the same things will happen in my house. I don’t want my kids running to me every time there is a disagreement. They need to work things out on their own, without physical violence.

  7. Hmmm this is interesting! I didn’t allow much tattling, but like you I made sure they knew to tell me when something was dangerous or when someone was hurt. My kids are 6 years apart though, so it really wasn’t much of an issue.

  8. I only have one child right now so I’m not there yet but I think I’m leaning more towards the allowing tattle telling.

  9. Good post! I only have one child at the moment, but I’ll keep this post in mind if this is the case scenario in the future.

  10. I think your approach makes sense. I do want to know if it’s something serious, but I don’t want them tattling on every little thing.

  11. I only have one child, so the idea of tattling is a little different here. However, she is ALWAYS blaming one of our cats for everything “Etoo scratched me!” (cat’s name is Tulo, but that’s irrelevant). Tulo does in fact scratch her now and then, but often it’s not a scratch she shows me. I try to explain to her how lying like that can get her in trouble if she tells on someone who hasn’t even done anything. It’s tough!

  12. Oh heavens, my daughter is ALWAYS tattling on her brother for everything, LOL. Drives us all insane! I try and tell her, unless you are hurt or got your feelings hurt then you two need to work it out yourselves!

  13. When I was working at the school, we’d always ask this kids when they were coming up to tattle if what they had to tell us was going to get someone in trouble.

    Most of the time, “yes” was the answer. So then I’d suggest they try to work it out one more time.

    It’s tough with kids…but I like your rules!

  14. I think there is nothing wrong with “tattling” personally so I don’t discourage it (though I don’t encourage it either).

  15. I love your post and most of you have young kids. My kids have grown and married so I have been through it once and now going through grandkids that are tweens and a 3 year yr old. This day and age is not the same as it was when my kids were growing up. It’s much more dangerous. And while little tales can get out of hand, as they get older you don’t want them to be afraid to tell you things because of being labled. You want them to come to you and tell you everything. Especially if they think their sibling may be in danger. Hanging with the wrong crowg=d. Doing drugs. I thankk God I did not have any of these problems and I pray my grandkids escape these, too. But I want them to know we have open communication.

  16. I’m not there yet. I just have a 2 year old, but I think I’d have to play it the same way you are playing or your kids might learn to keep secrets from ya. I don’t know, guess I’ll know when I get there.

    Heather From and Mommy Only Has Two Hands! and Lynhea Designs

  17. Tattling….I remember those days well. That part of child rearing I don’t miss! 😉

  18. We’re having tattling issues here, big time. Sometimes it’s warranted, other’s its just extremely annoying. It’s hard to get them to understand when it’s appropriate.