Friday, June 3, 2011

"I'm Telling on You!"

I wrote about a tattling situation on my facebook status this morning.  The response from my friends was funny.  Tattling does not rank up there on my list of annoying things like being ignored or being whined to do.  Yes, tattling is annoying, no doubt, but I think it comes in phases, and sometimes I think it's how kids communicate frustration with others.

I'm not sharing this because I'm the perfect mother and always handle things beautifully.  Sometimes I just write things down so that I can refer to them in the future when the situation happens again with another child, so I can remember and work on being consistent.  I know there are many ways to do things, this is just the way that works with our philosophy.

My friends asked if I was going to collect a tattler's fee.  This cracked me up because I really don't collect money for everything my kids do that bugs me.  I think it's only when my big kids need me to act as a consultant, when they're dealing with a problem with a sibling that they can't seem to solve on their own, that I collect a fee.  I really think kids'll take the easy way out most of the time and that's why they want me to solve their problems for them.  I mean, seriously, if I could get someone else to solve my problems for me, I'd do it.  That's why H&R Block exists, isn't it?

When it comes to tattling, my kids have been told that the one time it's okay to tattle is when someone is doing something that will injure him/herself or someone else.  There are probably a few rare instances when it's okay as well, but I can't think of any off the top of my head right now.

I also believe that what I do with my little ones now will influence our relationship later.  If my kids know that they can't come talk to me about their frustrations now, what will it be like when they're teenagers and life gets really frustrating?  One friend on this status chimed in with "Sometimes we just have to get it out there :) :)"  I loved this comment, and it really got me thinking about how I handle tattling when a child heads into this phase--and we definitely have one heading that way.  I know, lucky us!

The Tell-tale signs of Tattle-taling:  If the word "Mom" is followed by someone else's name, you can be pretty sure they're either asking for permission to do something with that other person (As in, "Mom, Ezra asked if I could go play football." Yah, right.  You know that doesn't happen), or they're going to tattle on that person (As in, "Mom, Ezra hit me with the football!").  Here's the usual response (I say usual because sometimes things are just unusual--especially if you haven't had a child in this phase for awhile):

When I see those tell-tale signs, I usually say, "Are you tattling?"  The answer is ALWAYS "No," and is frequently followed by "...but..."  Then they either walk away, or they continue.  I figure if they walk away, they can solve it themselves.  If they stay and continue to talk, they need to vent.  In this case, I listen and give an unemotional response like, "I bet that frustrated you," or "I bet that made you sad."  This is followed with "So, what are you going to do about that?"

I guess tattling doesn't bother me because I don't let it bother me.  I love that they don't tattle to me about me...then it would bother me, but when it's between them, they can handle it, and that's what I  love.


Julia Shinkle said...

Great post Julie! I have three in the "phase" right now...funny that you mentioned the part about, "Mom, so and so did this or so and so did that" because I am always telling my kids if it starts with that phrase you need ot work it out...Great post! I would be interested to know what % of my communication from my children begin with this phrase....Mom!!! She/He....

Connie@raise your eyes said...

Good advice from a wise mama:)

Ben and Heidi said...

Have you read the book "Tattletongue"? My kids love the book and it really teaches them what really should be told. I love all your posts. I have done a search on your blog more than once.

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