They do it to get attention. Or they want to get another child in trouble. It’s more than just irritating. Such tattling can have long-term consequences.

If your child gets a reputation as a stool pigeon, he won’t be very popular. Both teachers and children might shun him. And they won’t pay attention to him when there is a real problem.

To keep a child from tattling, parents can:

• Explain what tattling is. It’s informing on others to tear them down. It’s not done out of kindness or concern.

• Explain the difference between tattling and reporting important information. Say you want your child to tell you if another child is hurt or in trouble. You want to know if your child is scared or upset.

• Discuss the problems snitching on others can cause.

• Don’t give your child special attention. If it appears your child is tattling to get noticed, say something like—“Telling on other kids isn’t a good way to get my attention. Let’s think of some better ways.”

• Teach your child how to solve the problem himself. Children sometimes tattle to get an adult to solve a problem. Ask your child what he might do to change the situation.

• Don’t punish a child who’s been tattled on—if you haven’t seen the misdeed. This rewards the tattler. And seeing this might inspire the “victim” to take up tattling, too.

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