Monday, January 30, 2012

It's Not Tattling

tat·tle (ttl)
v. tat·tled, tat·tling, tat·tles
1. To reveal the plans or activities of another; gossip. See Synonyms at gossip.
2. To chatter aimlessly; prate.
To reveal through gossiping.
1. Aimless chatter; prattle.
2. Gossip; talebearing.
3. A tattletale.

I've decided to reveal a huge pet peeve of mine. It's about the word tattling and how it's used with children.

If my daughter comes up to me in tears and says, "Caleb took my Barbie and put her in his Batman castle and he said he was going to keep her captured!" should I just brush it off and tell her not to tattle? Doesn't that seem ridiculous? Her feelings have been hurt, and in her world, poor Barbie being in a Batman castle is a big deal.

But I've seen moms say, "Oh, don't tattle on your brother." I think teachers are maybe worse.

Is she "revealing the plans or activities of another"?? Yes. But it's not in a gossiping,
let's get Caleb in trouble for something that has nothing to do with me manner.

What if she tells me that Caleb pushed Gabriel? Or what about name calling?

Here is my perspective and how I handle these situations. If it directly affects Sarah, like the Barbie and Batman castle example, I will address it because her feelings have been hurt and
she is coming to me for help. Caleb should respect her feelings, and they need to play together nicely. If it's something like one of my children pushed another, but it's the one that wasn't directly involved that tells me, I will say, "Thank you for telling me, Sarah," and may or may not address the issue until the ones involved come to me. If it's something completely out don't know..."Caleb put his backpack on the table instead of putting it in his room," (which has never happened as far as someone telling me this, but we'll go with it) I will still say, "Thank you for telling me," because I feel like the child must feel like it's important for some reason.

I think deep down most kids aren't trying to get other kids in trouble. I think they just want to trust adults, and they want to come to them when they are hurt or see something that doesn't appear to be right. Most of the time, I honestly don't think kids are tattling. I think they think they are helping, or they are upset and hurt! Why are adults so quick to say, "I don't want to hear it!" or "Don't tattle!"

Could we try to be more mindful in these situations? Perhaps they need us to just listen, perhaps they just want to feel like they're being heard.


accesskas27 said...

AMEN!! You said it perfectly girl!

Anonymous said...

Great post! I love it! You are so right and it's one of my pet peeves as well. We've gone over what tattling is and when you should or shouldn't come to mommy. I DO have a child who, when he has gotten in trouble for something, will then look for something to 'tell' about the other ones. He gets disciplined for seeking out ways for others to be punished. Other than that, we basically follow what you've said here! Kids just want to feel like they're being heard!

And, if I can get on my soapbox for a minute, I think this is one of the main reasons that adults don't want to "get involved" in other people's lives. They can walk right by a child being slapped or hit and they will rush on by because it's not their business. I can't help but think those adults, when they were children, weren't listened to at all!

Chrissy said...

Maegan...I knew we were separated at birth! :) I was going to add your last paragraph to this post!

Lisa said...

On that same note, maybe if we weren't chastising our six year olds for "tattling" we wouldn't have a teen bullying epidemic. Now we have to BEG our sixteen year olds to stand up for what's right. Mixed signals? I think, yeah!

Now, honestly I'll be the first to say, the tattling bugs me. I've been that mom that says "stop tattling!". But my feelings on it have been mixed and I've been trying to figure out how to deal with it. I've discovered that there is an attitude that accompanies "tattling". It seems that the one tattling is wanting the other to be in trouble. So I've explained to my seven year old that I need him to "report" to me if there is something not right. He's an extra set of eyes and is a big help. If I feel he's just irritated with his brother or friend I ask him if it's something they can work out on their own. If not, I'll step in. Ultimately they're still learning to handle social situations. It's a teachable moment.

Lajoie said...

I always ask, "are you trying to help someone or hurt someone" when they come to me. They always know! I want to teach them they won't always get their way, how to learn to work things out, and to not be whining at me when they are 20.

Ashley said...

I agree with this post...but I am also a firm believer in children learning to work out their issues between each other rather than always needing mommy or daddy to solve it for them. At age 7 (almost 8) I usually ask my boys " did you talk to ___ about it?" If they say "no", then I send them back in to try to work it out on their own with the other sibling. They know that if they can't get it figured out I will always come and mediate.

Steadfast Ahoy! said...

Sounds like you are making yourself available to your children and respecting them as people. Good job!

A Lil Story said...

great post! I agree with you, I want my kids to feel comfortable coming to an adult if someone is doing something dangerous or hurtful. I also can tell when they are just trying to get someone in trouble and I can handle that a little differently ;)

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