How to Handle a Tattling Student

On a regular basis, tattling can be a problem. Children and adults alike can become very frustrated with a tattler. If you have a child that is a compulsive tattler, there are some things that you can do to try to get the tattling under control.

Before reprimanding the child for tattling, make certain that you are clear about what behavior it is that you do not desire. You never want to give the child the impression that he/she cannot come to you for help or in times of trouble. Although you can realize that there is a huge difference between, “Teacher, Billy made an ugly face at me” and “Teacher, Billy cut me with his scissors”, it will take time and direction for a child to understand that the severities of the two are quiet different. You may need to explain to the child that it is okay to tell an adult about a situation that he/she cannot handle on his/her own.

When a child comes to tattle, acknowledge that you can see that she is upset. Redirect her conversation from being about others to being about herself. Tell her that if she wants to discuss what is bothering her, you will listen but that you do not want to discuss other children.

Many children tattle for attention. One method to use when a child tattles is to acknowledge the problem. Give the situation attention and instruct the children to work it out themselves. If the children are having trouble coming up with solutions, offer a few for them. Eventually they will get the idea of problem solving on their own.

Try not to reward the tattling by punishing the child that she is tattling on. Again, just acknowledge that the crime should not have been committed. Besides reinforcing the tattling, punishing the other child may be unjust. Some tattling children exaggerate the story. If you did not see the activity, you are not certain what happened.

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