We live in a world where we're swamped with information on a daily basis. Just a quick look at our smartphones can tell us exactly what Sharon from the PTA did with her weekend - even if we don't want to know. It's difficult to keep our noses entirely out of other people's business, but when gossiping starts it can be dangerous. Adults know how hurtful it can be to talk about someone else behind their back, but kids are still learning - especially preteens.
According to Canadian Family, gossiping is a way that children share information to build stronger relationships with each other, but it's up to us to teach our kids about where to draw the line. Here's how we can help shuffle them in the right direction.
Lead by example. We may like nothing better than giving our bestie a call and talking about everything we've discovered this week, but kids don't need to be encouraged. The best thing you can do is leave the gossip out of the equation until the children aren't around, and even then, check your own habits. Is what you're discussing likely to hurt someone else? Does it really need to be spoken about?
Talk to your children. Most us never really consider the third party when we're getting the dirt, but we should. Sit down with your kids and ask them to think about the person being talked about. How would they feel if they knew someone was talking about them negatively? How would your child feel if the shoe were on the other foot?
Teach them about privacy. Kids are quick to trust who they're buddies with in the playground, and we've all the learned the hard way that true friends are few and far between. By teaching children to be vigilant about who they tell their own personal details (aka anything they don't want being widely discussed) to, we can minimize them becoming the target of playground rumor. Likewise, encourage them to keep any information they have been told in confidence to themselves.
Most importantly, encourage your children to be kind and treat others how they would like to be treated. It might sound old fashioned, but there's a reason that line is a classic.