Teach Kids The Difference Between 'Tattling' And 'Telling'

boy girl tattle

As parents, it’s without a doubt that everyone wants to teach their children to be honest. They also want their kids to be able to come forward with information, news, or anything that might sound or fee troubling with them. But as much as we try to be straightforward with our kids, it’s oftentimes hard for them to understand the differences between reporting an event and “tattling” on a peer, so to speak. That’s why health and early education specialists are encouraging parents to teach their kids the difference between looking out for their friends, and policing them.

According to Offspring, a lot of children that are still in their toddler years don’t know the difference between telling an adult about something to see or hear or flat out trying to get their peers in trouble (in Kindergarten it’s always exciting to see someone else get disciplined or sent to the assistant principal’s office during nap time, right?).

There is a difference between tattling and telling. Telling is sometimes called reporting. But when it comes to tattling, kids should understand the difference between reporting another person’s wrongdoing or simply gossiping idly. The last thing we want to do is encourage our kids to gossip, chat, prattle, babble or jabber about events that happened during recess or in the cafeteria.

For parents, the best thing they can do is teach their children the difference between reporting and tattling by having them observe different situations. Telling is when a child wants to keep themselves or others save or need an adult to help solve a problem. Tattling on the other hand is when a child wants to get someone else in trouble or they want to avoid blame. If no one is hurt or in danger or if a child is threatening to tell on another one in order to control the child, that’s not only tattling, but bullying, too.

As one mom told The Offspring, “Reporting is helpful information that the child feels is important to share (bullying, making a big mess, etc.). Usually you will also find that useful, even if it’s nothing major. Tattling is simply trying to get someone else in trouble. Maybe it’s true and the child being tattled on shouldn’t be doing what they are doing, but maybe it’s not really that important.”

As the saying goes, there are three types of people in this world: those who like to talk about ideas, those who talk about events, and those who like to talk about other people. Let’s discourage the latter as much as we can.

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