Help your child learn when to try to resolve conflicts directly with peers and when to ask an adult to intervene. Explain how tattling and reporting are different. Tattling is done to get someone in trouble for little things. Reporting is done to protect a child from physical or emotional abuse.
Come up with different scenarios and ask your child whether they’re examples of tattling or reporting.
What you can say
“Jacob, I agree it’s rude of your sister to keep burping on purpose. But her burping isn’t hurting anyone. Are you telling me this to be helpful or hurtful? Rather than telling me, you might want to tell her that you don’t like it. If she doesn’t stop, you can always go play somewhere else.”
“But I also want you to know that if there’s ever a seriously hurtful or emergency situation, it’s important that you tell me or another adult right away so we can help everyone. If your sister took an extra snack, would you need to tell me? Would you need to tell me if she locked herself in the bathroom?”
Why this will help
Learning how to resolve conflicts is essential to your child’s social development. Discussing very specific examples will help him see the difference between hurtful tattling and helpful reporting.
Doing less tattling can make it easier for him to start or maintain friendships. At the same time, however, it’s important to make sure your child knows he needs to tell an adult about bullying or other kinds of abuse.