What to do when your child is a tell-tale?

Snitching kid photo“Snitching - it’s bad” and “no-one loves a sneak” are phrases that parents say to their children, while some parents may even encourage this behaviour. In this article we want to discuss how parents should behave in such cases and what parents can say to their child.


A child at the age of three should not be labelled as “a sneak” or “snitch” because a child of this age cannot yet foresee the consequences of their words. At three years old it is not yet tale-telling, it is the child simply telling you in their own words what they have seen. For example, a child tells you that someone wasn’t working during classes at kindergarten. When you hear this, it is better to divert the child’s attention to some other subject, to ask, for example what they were doinig at that time? And if a child complains that someone does not give them a toy, then this should also not be considered as the child trying to get another child in trouble, they are simply looking for help from you. They expect you to tell them what it would be good to do in this situation.


Children from 3-5 years of age share their emotions- they have no goal to make a "denunciation" about other children. At this age, children begin to socialize, it is important for them to understand how their peers have acted, whether their act was positive or negative when they tell a lie to their teacher or offend a friend.


Through the opinion of their parents, children become acquainted with the norms of communication and learn to evaluate their behaviour.


Telling tales is the kind of tactic a child uses when trying to achieve the things they want and to satisfy their needs. The most important task of an adult is to steer them in the right direction to achieve their desires and goals positively.


Why the child is tattling?
The reasons:
- The child has a complaint. They are not able to cope with something, thereby telling their parents about it. They need your protection, advice, and maybe help.
- There are children who like to talk a lot. They do not do so deliberately. These children are not aware that their words can harm someone.
- There are children who feel threatened by adults and this behaviour could be a result of insecurity.
- Jealousy is also a cause of snitching. These children lack parental attention.
- Wanting revenge. If the child has some kind of ill feeling against another child. Perhaps after a quarrel or fight.

What should parents do?
- It’s better to talk seriously about telling tales after a child has turned 5 years of age.
- If the child wants to complain about other children, there is no need to prohibit this, let them speak, and then sort things out afterwards.
- Be sure that you listen and hear what your child has to say. Respect them and their opinion. Scold less, praise more.
- If you want your child to not become a tell-tale, pay more time and attention to them. Hug, kiss and be gentle with them, because due to the lack of this type of attention, the child may try to assert themselves and increase their own feeling of significance in other ways.
- Up to three years of age, you do not need to consider this a problem, because children of this age do not know how to predict the consequences of their actions.
- Children from 5-7 years old can understand and its possible to discuss the difference between dangerous and minor offenses. Teach your child to notify an adult if there is some danger to them or to other children, but some minor offenses should not be reported.
- If you want to teach your child the desired behavior, try role-playing different situations and asking your child how they would respond to different scenarios. This game will help to the child to understand when it is necessary to report something to an adult, and when there is no need.
- Try to figure out what is causing this behaviour. Perhaps the child wants justice or revenge. First, be sure to identify the cause before you tell them off.
- Teach the child to resolve their own conflict situations with the help of words and negotiation, but without force.
- Children of older preschool and school age can understand when you explain why people who often tell tales are not very popular. (You could give examples of offensive nicknames).
- Read books about friendship and relationships with your child.


Be sure to listen to them, have sympathy, act with empathy and help them to resolve the problem.


Stay emotionally close to your child. They should know that they can talk to their parents about anything and that sometime it is necessary to consult with adults (parents) before deciding on a course of action.

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