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Why Kids Tattle and What to Do About It

Why Kids Tattle and What to Do About It

Update: 2023-04-191


Do you have a tattle tale? If so, today’s episode is for you. Let me paint a picture. Three-and-a-half-year-old Sam is a sweet kid, but he's in the habit of tattling on his older brother Eric, who is just six years old. Whenever Eric does something that Sam thinks isn't nice or fair, he runs to his parents and tells on him. For example, if Eric takes one of Sam's toys or accidentally drops something, Sam runs to his parents and says, Eric did it.

  • Tattling happens after a child has stopped managing problems in physical ways like hitting or biting, but he or she hasn't yet developed a more sophisticated way of solving things.
  • Children who tattle have enough social and emotional skills to stop the hitting, but not enough to solve problems without some help.
  • A toddler may tattle to exert their power and see if they can get a rise out of you.
  • Create a space or a moment between your child's behavior and your response to it. In other words, just pause for a moment before saying a word. 

Ready to combat tattletales? Help your child feel seen. When they feel seen, their need to tattletale gradually diminishes. You can empower your child by equipping them with the tools to manage problems on their own. With time, tattletales will fizzle out. But in the meantime, also remember the power of exclusive time or special time or magic time, whatever you wanna call it, for just 10 minutes a day. Let your child choose what they want to do and then the two of you do that together. Playing with your toddler, just the two of you for 10 minutes a day is a research-based way to ease messy toddler behaviors.

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Why Kids Tattle and What to Do About It

Why Kids Tattle and What to Do About It

Dr. Cathryn