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How To Deal With A Tattletale


Do you want to know how to deal with a tattletale? Well, that's what we're talking about in this article. I'm Nicholeen Peck and I teach parenting, communication, and family bonding and we are going to be addressing how to get rid of the tattletales for good.

Nobody likes a tattletale but if we're honest, sometimes those tattletales do help us a little bit because they alert us to some things that we might not have noticed. Although most of the time when a person is a tattletale, what that means is they're actually trying to point negative attention toward another person. 

So, we know this is bad for them, it's bad for the other person and it seems to create the wrong type of feeling in our environment. So, how do we handle tattletales? Well, I've got some key tips for you in this article that are going to be very effective at teaching your child when and when not to tell you something. 

Differences Between Tattling And Reporting

We must establish there is a difference between tattling and reporting. In fact, your children should know the difference between tattling and reporting. So, when a person tattles, that's when they're trying to get positive attention and put negative attention on another person. When a person is reporting, what they are doing is they are concerned about another person and they're trying to get help for the other person or for the situation. 

Their heart is more sincere. When a person comes and reports something to me, I'm going to praise them. I'm going to tell them it's a good thing that they thought to come and tell me and that I will go and handle the situation. But when a person comes and tattles to me about another person, then I'm going to end up having a talk with them about their relationship and about their behavior and helping them improve their communication style. 

How To Create A Family Vision For Tattletales

The very first tip that I would like to share with you today to help your child not tattle on their brothers and sisters or maybe some of their friends is to help them create a vision of what type of relationship they want to have. 

So, in my teaching self-government parenting course, which is on, I talk about creating a vision for the family. It's a 20-year vision where the family plans ahead for what type of family bonds and relationships they want to have. 

Well, you also can create smaller visions for friend relationships, neighbor relationships, or any individual. You can say what's my 4-year vision for what you want this relationship to turn out like with somebody else? Now, siblings, they've always lived together. 

They don't know not living together so this is why sometimes they're kind of mean to each other. They start to take advantage of each other, but what if they saw themselves in a new light. What if they saw themselves as people who had a journey to go on together, as people who were going to be there for each other to support and love and care for each other? Then, they would actually probably behave in different ways toward each other. 

Help your children create a vision of what type of bond, connection, fun times, laughs that they want to have with each other and that way, they will hopefully have a picture in a place that they can hold on to when they think I want to get that person in trouble. 

They think wait a minute, who is that person to me? Maybe I shouldn't just want to get them in trouble, maybe I should sort out my problem with them instead of making my problem even worse by tattling. 

How To Pre-Teach Children For When They Tattle

It's important that you pre-teach your children not only the difference between tattling and reporting, but what you are going to do should they choose to tattle, that is important. 

They need to know that that is not the type of communication that they are supposed to be having behind somebody else's back or when they're trying to deflect from something that they've done wrong and that you will point it out to them every time. 

They need to know the exact words that you will tell them if they choose to tattle, which means that you needed to say I will say to you right now you are telling me this about that other person that is actually you trying to get them in trouble, that's bad sibling relationships. You are tattling. 

When you tattle on somebody else, that actually means that you're starting a kind of a battle with that person and it can make conflict in your relationship. It's not a good idea. What you should do instead is you should disagree appropriately with that person or maybe accept the "no" answer if they've given you a "no" answer. Now, what are these words that disagree appropriately, accept the "no" answer? These are skills that you're going to teach your children. 

There are 4 basic skills that a person needs to know if they are going to be really good at self-governing themselves. So, I teach self-government all over the world. If you want to find out more about it, you can go to and you can find a podcast and all kinds of articles as well as helps for teaching your children self-government and part of this help are going to include the steps to 4 basic skills. 

2 of those basic skills are accepting "no" answers and criticism and disagreeing appropriately. Those are 2 vital skills that children need to handle their own problems so that they don't feel like they need to come to to get somebody else in trouble so that they can get their way. 

How To Deal With A Tattletale With Parent Counseling Sessions 

So, I have 4 children of my own. I've got a boy, then a girl, then a girl, then a boy. My oldest girl was kind of more of the bossy variety. She definitely saw what was right and what was wrong and she wanted everybody to stick to it. In fact, she started mothering everyone. We soon had a problem where she was tattle-talking all the time. 

At one point, she was the responsible child who was telling me when her toddler sibling was getting into a problem that they shouldn't and was bringing my attention to something I needed to address, but it soon shifted to her starting to point out every single thing that everybody did and I think she was taking her role as big sister a little bit too much to heart. 

So, we had a conversation with her. This conversation is something that I call a parent counseling session. This is a time when I pull a child aside and I talk to them about one issue that they need to work on. So, I pulled Paige aside and I said okay, Paige, I've noticed that you seem to be coming to me a lot telling me things about other people and the way that you're doing it are actually in a way that you're trying to get them in trouble, so this is called tattletales. It's bad for your relationship. 

How To Create Negative Consequences For Tattling

This is what you need to do. So, then I said Paige, how about you help me come up with some sort of a negative consequence for your tattle tale so that you will be inspired or motivated not to tattle anymore. 

So, I did tell her in this conversation that I definitely still wanted her to report things, things that were situations where someone maybe was going to get hurt or it was a safety problem something might break something like that, you know, or maybe if a person was going against some of our morals and standards that our family held as very important. 

Those would be things that a caring sister would tell her parents but, if she was just trying to get herself out of trouble or get somebody else into trouble, those were going to be no-nos. So, she came up with a plan that she would earn a large job like major maintenance if she ever tattled on another person. 

This was very motivating to her because she did not like to do major maintenances. They took more time than just regular jobs. We also said how about we check up on this in our regular meetings. So, in the teaching self-government course, I talk about the meetings that we have. 

We have regular mentor meetings with our children. Well, we were going to use these mentor meetings as a checkup time where we could talk about how she was doing with her tattling, and then I took it even a step further. 

How To Create A Cue Phrase For Tattling

So, what I did was I said let's come up with a little cue phrase so that if you're just about to tattle that I can say something and it will give you that thought of wait, is this tattling,, or is this reporting, then I decided and she decided with me that we would use the phrase, "Do you have something you need to report?" and then they would think oh, is this a report, right, or is this a title because there was a difference. 

Well, I would like to report to you that Paige did a fantastic job. It only took a matter of a few days before she realized she could catch herself from tattling and choose not to do it anymore. I did have to correct her a few times and in years to come occasionally she got corrected and got the opportunity to earn her major maintenance that she decided upon but it soon became a non-issue for her. 

How To Deal With A Tattletale

Did you see some of the key things that I did with Paige in that story? So, we had a special meeting just about one issue, we talked about it, I explained when to talk about something, when not to. We also talked about what would motivate her to stop the behavior so, we created a negative consequence. You can also create positive consequences to motivate a person to do the correct behavior. 

We also practiced a little bit of what that might look like, I promised her I would be consistent about correcting her and we plan for future follow-up. This is all the process of self-government. In fact, there's so much more to self-government that I would love to share with you.

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