How do you teach kids when to tell? How do you stop tattling? This is one social skill which is fairly straightforward. You need to teach kids the following rules.
“Kids should know when to tell. They need to learn to tell when:
- Someone is being (or has been) hurt
- Someone is being (or has been) bullied
- Someone is missing (such as MIA on a field trip or coming in from recess)
- They are feeling scared or threatened
- They are asked or told to do something wrong or dangerous
- They are told to keep a secret about any of the above.
Kids should not tell when:
- They want to get someone else in trouble
- They want attention
- They are acting like the teacher or parent (such as correcting others, monitoring other’s’ work)
- They are “jumping” into someone else’s business.
- Doing any of the above is called tattling. Our rule is no tattling.”
Most kids can easily understand the differences between these categories. It’s the adult response that takes practice. Some kids develop a screeching tattle-tale voice which triggers an equally screeching response from another kid. SIblings often have this down to a fine art and it becomes a screech-along which is difficult to end. At the beginning of changing this behavior, it helps if you respond consistently with, “When you try to get someone in trouble, that’s tattling. What is our rule about tattling?” After a couple of episodes, it’s more effective to simply say, “You are breaking our rule about tattling.” Then turn to the other screecher and say, “Remember our rule about ignoring.” Oh yes, you have to teach “how to ignore.” Someone yelling, “I’m ignoring you!” with fingers in his or her ears is not ignoring, but it has made me smile many times.