She took my headband!
He touched my Legos!
She's using my iPod!
He won't stop bothering us!
She won't stop hitting us!
They spit on us! Eww!
Those are just a few of the tattletales I've heard from my daughter over the years.
Common responses may sound like -
Give it back!
Put down those Legos!
Leave it alone!
Stop pestering your sister!
That's not nice!
But, what do kids learn when we respond with directives, demands, and judgment?
They learn what we think about things, but not how to make better choices.
Tattling is developmentally typical in young children.
They are still piecing together how the world works. Like any behavior, tattling represents a need - possibly to be heard, acknowledged or validated.
Children learn how to meet their needs by communicating through their behavior and they rely on our responses and interactions for answers and information - for quality feedback.
They don't often have the skills or experience to eloquently and effectively speak their minds or handle conflict without help, so they come running to us.
When they come running, we can feel a surge of stress and frustration. We might feel the need to answer and decide for them.
No time for talking. No time for understanding.
You broke the rules, here are the consequences.
That always sounds great in theory but it's a strategy which shuts down connection and communication.
If we deny kids the chance to practice skills or thoughtfully reflect on situations, we can't expect them to make better decisions.
If you're tired of playing judge and jury and your idea of conflict resolution does not involve screaming and physical force, watch this TEACHable Moments episode where I share why kids tattle and what you can do about it.
How you respond influences whether your kids learn to take more independent actions or whether they will rely on you to dictate the outcomes.
Do you respond in emotionally intelligent ways when your kids tattle?
What works for you? Help another community member by sharing your ideas for peaceful conflict resolution in the comments.
Need more help managing your anger and getting your kids to listen? Click here to sign up for my FREE video series.
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