I’m Telling Mom!!

Oh yes, by far the three most popular words in my house this summer so far. Every time I hear them I can’t wait for what someone must tell me.

That’s a lie. I can’t stand hearing those words. Having someone scream “I’m telling mom”, “Oooh I’m tellin”, or “wait till I tell mom what you did/said”, or any combination of those words, makes me run and hide. But that doesn’t seem to stop them and it doesn’t even matter if I’m in the bathroom! They will stand outside the door and proceed to inform me of what I must know.

Here’s the real problem; it’s the same child over and over again. I’ll give you three guesses as to who it is, and I’ll even throw in a hint if you want me to. (Hint: I only have ONE of this gender child). That should narrow it down for you, but if you’re new to The Guilty Parent, just keep reading; it will all be revealed in a moment.

You see for some reason, Bebe has taken it upon herself to tattle on every. little. thing. Even when it’s not being done to her. I want to check her for scratches because by the end of the day she starts to sound like a broken record.

I’ve tried stalling her with the usual questions:

Is anyone hurt?

Is anyone dying?

Bleeding?

Are they doing something to YOU?

Did it cause you so much physical or emotional pain that you don’t think you’ll ever recover from it? (That’s a new one but I love how she rolls her eyes when I ask it)

But when she answers NO to every one of my questions, I sometimes make the fatal mistake of asking, “then why are you telling me this?”

Caution: Tattletale on the loose

Caution: Tattletale on the loose

Seriously. I need to stop asking that question because asking that leads to another brand new tattle (usually).

I don’t want to emotionally scar the child by dancing around in front of her chanting “Tattle tale, tattle tale, Bebe’s a tattle tale”. Her brothers do that enough for me. Besides, I’d look silly and I’d no longer win Mom Of The Year. She’s going to be 11 soon and I would have thought this is something she would have grown out of but it seems that it’s only gotten worse. Maybe she thinks this is the only way to communicate with me.

So what are my options?

Do I tune her out? Should I enforce “punishments” for tattling, such as charging her a penny, nickel, or dime for every tattle she tells? Have her wash extra dishes, chores? I’m not just considering normal means of discouraging her from it. I want creative ideas and discipline for tattling. I’m fresh out of creative at this point.

Beyond the tattling, there’s a second problem at hand.

How do I handle the issue she’s tattling on? If I let her brothers off the hook (it’s always her brothers, why would she tattle on herself?), then I send the message that they can get away with being bad. If I give attention to the tattling and handle whatever problem her brothers are causing then I’m giving her the message that it’s acceptable for her to tattle on them AND her brothers plot against her mercilessly thus giving her something to tattle about later.

Do you see the vicious circle I have going on here?

Then there’s Peanut, he’s the youngest and likely the next one in line to start tattling. I do not want him to pick this up. So far, he’s only interested in telling on someone when he’s been personally wronged and I can still deal with that. He’s four and I expect him to tell me when someone has been mean to him or hurt him. However, I don’t think I could take it if he turns into Bebe.

I will. Pull. Out. My. Hair.

Do you have any ideas or suggestions for me? A new place I can run to when the tattling starts?

About Nichole Smith

Nichole Smith has written 760 post in this blog.

Founder of Chaos in the Country and (original) The Guilty Parent blog, Nichole is a professional writer, blogger, social media strategist, and collector of yarn, books, and pretty paper.

Comments

  1. Char says:

    Tough one. I never had kids of such age differences, so I was able to work this problem out in one fell swoop when they were little. I think an approach would be to take a good hard look and see if she is a ‘better’ kid than the rest. Does she really not do all the bad stuff they do? Or are the boys just not telling you? Because if she is just as bad (which is prob the case), I bet you could enlist Bug in helping you cure her of this. I think you could explain the situation, and ask him to start tattling on her for every little thing she does. I bet she gets sick of it real quick. You could then explain to her how the boys feel when she does it. I’m certain she would complain how whatever she did was justified, wasn’t really bad or didn’t hurt anyone.

    Another approach would be a ‘family meeting’. Sit everyone down and extol the evils of tattling. Explain how you need to be informed of hurt feelings and elbows, strangers, real dangers, etc. But that part of growing up is making the little mistakes and learning from them, figuring things out for yourself, learning to get along with other personality types, etc.

    Yet another idea would be to calmly listen to Bebe, not react to her at all, just listen. Then call the boys in question to you while she is there and calmly explain that if they did do/say what she said it isn’t allowed and they should not do it again. Explain that if you had caught them, they would be actually punished. Tell them you will actively look for that behavior in the future. Then send them on their way. That will let Bebe know you are listening to her. And at the same time, it will effectively take away the ‘power’ she perceives she has over them by tattling. I think she would soon tire of having to wait around just to hear you talk and do nothing.

    The only real problem dealing with tattletales is that if you allow it, it alienates the child from the rest of the group. Or if you punish the behavior, you form a rather cohesive team of them versus you. And in the future, you can never tell if everything is fine, or they are conspiring to make sure you don’t know the whole truth.

    LOL, either way you are damned if you do or damned if you don’t.

    Don’t you love parenting?

  2. I guess, to respond intelligently, I’d have to understand why this is “tattling”. My experience is that kids pass news for a number of reasons. Some may be :

    I want Mom to know I’m on it.
    I want to be recognized as the ‘good kid’.
    I’m trying to be recognized as one of the ‘older kids’.
    I’m excluded, and I want to change the dynamic.
    I’m not really sure what the limits are.
    I’m bored.
    I have excess management talent (this is a big one for many girls, particularly.)

    You can help her figure out why she’s telling you, and not when you’re hiding. Sit down with a cup of tea and talk to her, say this isn’t working for you, and the two of you have to meet that need another way.

    just as when they’re babies, kids are trying to solve problems with their behavior. You figured out the hungry cry/sleepy cry, you’ll get this one.

  3. I guess, to respond intelligently, I’d have to understand why this is “tattling”. My experience is that kids pass news for a number of reasons. Some may be :

    I want Mom to know I’m on it.
    I want to be recognized as the ‘good kid’.
    I’m trying to be recognized as one of the ‘older kids’.
    I’m excluded, and I want to change the dynamic.
    I’m not really sure what the limits are.
    I’m bored.
    I have excess management talent (this is a big one for many girls, particularly.)

    You can help her figure out why she’s telling you, and not when you’re hiding. Sit down with a cup of tea and talk to her, say this isn’t working for you, and the two of you have to meet that need another way.

    just as when they’re babies, kids are trying to solve problems with their behavior. You figured out the hungry cry/sleepy cry, you’ll get this one.

  4. Stephanie says:

    I have 5 kids. Yep, its always the girls that do this, but I have figured out that it is done as a tool. Its a power thing, and unless you want your kids to grow up and be that annoying person in the office that spies on everyone and snitches to the boss, you have to stop it.

    So, here is what I did. I told them all that I expect them to attempt to correct the situation themselves as best they can. Only if there is no other way to fix the situation AND it is crucial OR it is a danger issue, then they can tell, but keep in mind, the tattler will be punished as well as all the other kids AND the person doing the bad thing if the first three conditions have not been met. If it is bad enough, they will risk the punishment. If they have to stop and ask themselves if its that big if a deal, then it probably isn’t.

    Also, I really don’t care WHY they are doing it. If they want attention, feel like a big kid, whatever, I don’t CARE. They need to quit it and figure out how to earn these things in a positive way. You can tell them, look, I see you are trying to be the ‘responsible one’ but this ain’t the way to do it, and then move forward with the ‘scorched earth punishment plan’. If you say, ooo I understand, lets see about making you feel more like a big kid, then all you will do is show them that this behavior WORKS.

  5. Stephanie says:

    I have 5 kids. Yep, its always the girls that do this, but I have figured out that it is done as a tool. Its a power thing, and unless you want your kids to grow up and be that annoying person in the office that spies on everyone and snitches to the boss, you have to stop it.

    So, here is what I did. I told them all that I expect them to attempt to correct the situation themselves as best they can. Only if there is no other way to fix the situation AND it is crucial OR it is a danger issue, then they can tell, but keep in mind, the tattler will be punished as well as all the other kids AND the person doing the bad thing if the first three conditions have not been met. If it is bad enough, they will risk the punishment. If they have to stop and ask themselves if its that big if a deal, then it probably isn’t.

    Also, I really don’t care WHY they are doing it. If they want attention, feel like a big kid, whatever, I don’t CARE. They need to quit it and figure out how to earn these things in a positive way. You can tell them, look, I see you are trying to be the ‘responsible one’ but this ain’t the way to do it, and then move forward with the ‘scorched earth punishment plan’. If you say, ooo I understand, lets see about making you feel more like a big kid, then all you will do is show them that this behavior WORKS.

  6. She comes to you because her feelings are hurt by the rejection of her brothers. She is too young to understand these emotions. If the brothers have done something really wrong, they should be punished just as if you’d found it out otherwise, no more or no less. You should speak to her brothers one at a time, seperately, and try to help them understand the emotional pain they are causing. When she comes to you with some little thing, it’s really that her feelings are hurt and she comes to mom to make it better. Give her a hug, let her know she is loved, spend some time with her baking cookies or playing dress-up. There is no substitute for a mother’s love.

  7. She comes to you because her feelings are hurt by the rejection of her brothers. She is too young to understand these emotions. If the brothers have done something really wrong, they should be punished just as if you’d found it out otherwise, no more or no less. You should speak to her brothers one at a time, seperately, and try to help them understand the emotional pain they are causing. When she comes to you with some little thing, it’s really that her feelings are hurt and she comes to mom to make it better. Give her a hug, let her know she is loved, spend some time with her baking cookies or playing dress-up. There is no substitute for a mother’s love.

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