When is Tattling Ok?

Reporting vs. Tattling – Does your child know the difference?

Parenting Help Parenting Help Tips   photo credit: akeg

Parenting Help Parenting Help Tips

When it comes to safety – does your child understand the difference between Tattling and Reporting? Do you? If not…You and your child should. It is very important that we teach our children from as young as 3 years old the difference between tattling and reporting.

  • Tattling is when a child goes to a grown-up and tells something to the grown-up just to get the other person in trouble.
  • Reporting is when a child goes to a grown-up and tells (reports) anything that has to do with the safety of him/her or the safety of others. It is our responsibility to teach our children the importance of reporting to a grown-up.

Why? When we just tell children to “stop tattling” without finding out if what they are sharing with you is about safety…we are teaching our children NOT to come to us and tell us important information. We are breaking down the communication between ourselves and our children. One of the most effective ways to keep our children safe is to have great communication – you want our children to come to you with important safety concerns..Don’t you?

So what can you do? We can ask our children when they come to us, is this tattling or reporting? Remind them when tattling they are trying to get someone into trouble (and wasting mommy’s time), but if they are reporting a safety concern, we are here to listen – if it’s reporting we say: “Great job Reporting. I am so glad you came to tell me. You did the right thing by Reporting.” By encouraging your children at a young age to come to report to you if they are concerned about their safety or the safety of others you are opening the door to effective communication.

If your children get into the habit of reporting to you at a young age imagine the difference in your relationship as they get into the teenage years? Do you want to be the parent of a child that will call you if they or their friend is too drunk to drive? If you have had effective communication with your child, and they know they can report to you anything about safety and they will not be in trouble, they will come to you…Isn’t that what we all what?

But imagine this scenario – you continue to tell your child not to tattle…they stop coming to you, afraid to get into trouble or you will be mad. They are now 16 and their friend is too drunk to drive….what do you think they will do?? Get behind the wheel…probably! The simple step of finding out if your child is tattling or reporting can make the difference in your communication with your child…being there for you child to discuss important safety issues with you without reproach or retaliation can make the difference in your child making safe and smart choices as they grow. For more information and parenting tips visit our web site www.kidsafefoundation.org

Author: Sally Berenzweig MEd, MA

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