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What to do with Tattle Tails

Children don’t just tattle for attention; they do it because they feel smart and important when they observe something and report it to you. When the “reports” are always negative, it is annoying and unproductive. However, there is a way to change or stop this
kind of tattling.
Look at it this way. When children tattle they are really practicing a thinking skill. Observing carefully and telling what is seen is a skill children need in school. If you change the tattling from negative to positive, you’ll be helping children practice this important skill.
When she tattles on brother say, “Wow. You are really a good observer. You watched him and told me exactly what you saw. That’s what scientists and reporters do. Since you’re so good at observing and telling what you see, I want you to do something special. Go back and watch your brother. Come back later and tell me three good things you see him do.” Every time she tells something negative, insist that she finds three positive things to tell.
If you do this for one week, one of two things will happen. Either she will decide it’s too much trouble to tattle and quit, or she will start to find good things about her brother. Either way, everyone will be happier.
This method works very well in the classroom, too. When a teacher finds that the kids are ganging up and tattling on a
child who exhibits inappropriate behavior, the wise teacher will enlist the help of classroom tattlers to find and tell the good things they see about the child being picked on. When classmates and the teacher praise the behaviors they like, I guarantee that the problem behavior will stop.

Evelyn Petersen’s nationally syndicated parenting column is carried in over 200 newspapers twice each week. As a family/parenting consultant, early childhood educator, Head Start consultant, and host of a series of parent training audio and videotapes, Ms. Petersen employs an approach of providing hands-on, nuts and bolts advice to parents across the country. Evelyn Petersen’s nationally syndicated parenting column is carried in over 200 newspapers twice each week. As a family/parenting consultant, early childhood educator, Head Start consultant, and host of a series of parent training audio and video tapes, Ms. Petersen employs an approach of providing hands-on, nuts and bolts advice to parents across the country. 

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