Monday, September 14, 2009

Lord (And Fellow Bloggers) Help Me!

I have been known to give a bit of free advice. Sometimes I've been called clever or even brilliant. That just makes me blush. Plus, I can't really accept that I'm brilliant so much as maybe just lucky. I guess that this mothering gig is a honed skill, one that I've been honing for a while now. My tools: other moms who know a thing or two, a select group of parenting books, and lots lots LOTS of prayer.

So, I'm coming to you, seasoned mothers. Heck, I'd like to open it up to mothers, fathers, grandparents, teachers, and anyone who has ever met a child. That's good for me. I need your help before I pull out what remaining hair I have left.

My children love to tattle on one another. And I think if I have to listen to one more person say, "MOOOOMMMMM, so-and-so dumped out the trash can" or "so-and-so won't get off my blanket" or "The baby won't do what I'm telling her to do" I may poke myself in the eye with a butter knife.

I have told my kids to handle it on their own. I have told them to try to solve it by themselves. I have tried to help them solve it. I have told them to just go away. I have worn my MP3 player to simply ignore it. But nothing works. Unfortunately, Texan Papa does not share my loathing of the tattling. This probably comes from him not being around most of the time. He works 2 nights a week and the entire weekend. So, his exposure to tattling is limited. Plus, he wants our kids to feel that they can tell us anything at any time. I think this is from his fear that if our kids are ever abused, they might be afraid to tell us for fear that we'll get mad at them for tattling. I see his point of view but I think there must be a constructive way to teach our kids the difference between telling on someone because they want to be the authority on bad behavior, and telling on someone to keep them safe. I'm still having some trouble with the gray-area tattling: telling on someone because they are being naughty, but if I find out I'll be happier to know sooner rather than later (like if my older child tattles that her baby sister is coloring on the wall with a crayon.)

There must be some happy middle ground! Please, Lord, tell me it is so!



Buggys said...

Oh I so wish that I had some great advice for you, alas, I don't. My girls are 1 year apart and the tattling and bickering was nearly unbearable when they were young. I remember finally ahving enough of it, my new rule became "unless there is blood, I don't want to hear about it"! Good luck, I hope someone has a solution for you.

Foursons said...

My advice is probably something you've already tried. But I have told my kids the same you have. Go work it out yourselves, I don't want to hear tattling,etc... Now my 7 year old will start to say something and he stops himself and says, "I know, you don't want to hear tattling." hahahahaha

As far as the grey area of tattling. I think once you discuss where and when it is OK to touch you and if someone touches you where you don't like then you come and tell Mommy or Daddy- that should be cleared up.

I know I haven't helped you at all. But I'm going to come back and read more comments later because I need help with this too!

McVal said...

I think you gave me some advice! That butter knife in the eye sounds pretty good! Compared to me having to listen to it all the time. With one out of the house now, there is considerably less bickery going on. So that's nice!
But the one's left are girls and boy do they like to tattle and nag at each other. So and so is touching me! That's when we got the minivan with bucket seats so no one would have to sit next to other...
Oh try this. "hhmmm.. too bad you couldn't work it out on your own. Why don't you both go empty the dishwasher?"

Jennifer said...

Ok, I just wrote a comment and it wouldn't go through because of a conflicting edit. That ticks me off.

Sum it up - I don't know and I'm not looking foward to it when my kids are bigger and start doing it full time.

Jen said...

I say go tell your Dad. ;)

Bridgett said...

I do about what McVal does. Sometimes I warn them first: is anyone hurt? But sometimes I don't warn them, and see what Sophia has to say (she's the only one that tattles--when Maeve does, it's because Sophia HAS hurt her, which is a different sitch). If Sophia has something constructive to tell me, like "Maeve is drawing on herself with marker" or "Maeve poked me in the eye" or "Maeve threatened to hurt me," then I deal with it promptly. But if it's "Maeve stuck her tongue out" or "Maeve told me she doesn't want to play" or, my favorite, "I accidentally hurt Maeve (yeah right) and she told me she was mad and then she kicked me", then Sophia does work for me. I frame it with "let's let everyone calm down. Go upstairs and make your bed/pick up the towels/sift the cat litter"

It cuts down on it, but slowly. Usually a warning helps after a few extra chores...but it doesn't stick, that's for sure.

jen said...

ok here a couple of ideas...these come from doing my student teaching in first grade where tattling first starts firing up.

First of all, when a kid would come up to me and tattle. I would listen and say ok, thank you. After a while the kids realized I wasn't going to do anything about the minor tits and tats. Of course, we had the whole class discussion of if it is a safety issue, etc. please tattle!

My friend use a "tattle box" in her classroom. She had the kids write down their tattles on a sheet of paper and "promise" to read them at the end of every day. If you do read them they can be quite amusing. This gives kids the outlet they want, but it takes you out of the picture.

I hope either of those ideas help. As teachers we use the "are you hurt and is their blood" strategy. I also commonly tell the younger ones who come up with tattles such as "he said a bad word" or whatever and say "did you tell so and so not to say that?" then they will say "no." So then they have to go tell that person not to do that and move on. Once again it takes you out of the middle.

I hope any of these thoughts/ideas can help. Tattling is no fun!

Emily said...

I have not tried this yet (but am on the verge w/ my narc of a 5 year old!) but I've heard it really works. Tape a picture (like a funny face cartoony-picture) on the fridge and that's Mr. Tat. Whenever a child has the urge to tattle he can go and tell Mr. Tat all about it and mommy doesn't need to know anything (unless someone is getting hurt of course). A lot of teachers have told me this trick. Good luck...the tattling thing totally gets on my nerves too!

Wendy said...

This is me upon hearing tattling:

"Is he bleeding? Is anything getting destroyed? Then why are you telling me this?"

Or sometimes I just shush them entirely. Or say, "I'm sorry, I don't understand the Whining Language." If it gets really bad I'll pop a little hiney and say, "no tattling."

First rule of mothering: mom has to be sane or everything will fall apart. Tattling makes mom insane. Hence, it won't be tolerated.

nicole said...

Tattling is definitely one of the least pleasant aspects of parenting. One of my solutions for a chronic tattler or for inappropriate tattling is to give the tattler a punishment. This discourages frivolous tattling. Then, you just have to be consistent in what is appropriate to tell you. For example, telling you the baby is coloring on the wall is definitely okay, while maybe telling you that Brother is being annoying is not okay. Talk about the intent behind the tattling for those kids old enough to understand. Are they just seeking to get a sibling in trouble, or is there a legitimate problem requiring your intervention? In the end, handling the tattler separate from the problem has made a big difference for us.

Goddess Jeni said...

I totally know how you feel about the tattling. Jezi just recently started this phenomenon at age 3 1/2 and at first I thought I would loose my mind. But then in what I consider my own stroke of genius, I told her the following:

"Jezi, tattling isn't nice. It's not sweet. It's only ok to tell on somebody to a grownup if you're trying to keep them safe. If they are doing something that isn't safe, you can tell Mommy. If you are just telling me something to get them in trouble, then you both get time out."

This has worked like a charm. If one of her cousins is over and climbs on the piano or something else equally nutty and dangerous, she comes running to me like lioness protecting a cub...she screams like a little banshee "MMMMOOOOMMMM, (insert kids name here) is not being SSSSAAAAFFFEEE." And I know to come running.

She no longer tattles though, the idea of getting time out for being tattle tale isn't worth it. She'd rather try to work out the toy disagreement or whatever is going on all by her lonesome than risk going to time out with the offender.

I also used to do this with my younger siblings...who forever were tattling on each other. I'd forgotten all about it until the other day when I remembered and used it on Jezi.

Hope this helps!