Tattling is a constant issue at the elementary level. With our school’s focus on anti-bullying, it’s sometimes difficult to know how much attention to give to students’ complaints about their peers. It helps to make sure that the children understand the difference between tattling and telling, and to set clear expectations about how each will be handled.
Children tattle for many different reasons. Some want to test limits and figure out whether or not the teacher will enforce rules. Sometimes students point out misbehavior so that the teacher will recognize the their own efforts to follow the rules. Other students may not know how to handle a situation, so they turn to an adult for guidance. Of course, there are also times when the concern is legitimate and there’s good reason for reporting an inappropriate behavior.
The best way to eliminate tattling is through classroom discussion. Students can work together to create a list of specific situations they encounter at school such as name calling, non-participation in group activities, incorrect completion of an assigned activity, taking another child’s belonging, using inappropriate language, cutting in front of someone in line, and so forth. Once the list is made, students can decide which should be reported, which should be handled on their own, and which they should simple ignore.
A good way to reinforce the whole-class lesson, is by displaying this FREE poster by edgalaxy.com. Students who continue to tattle can be directed to this poster to review the difference between reporting and tattling.
This FREE 2:10 minute You Tube video, Tattling vs.Telling is a clear, straight-forward way to initiate another lesson followed by whole-class discussion. It explains the difference between reporting a serious concern and trying to get a classmate in trouble.
For teachers who want to implement a more formal plan, this FREE 8:47 minute You Tube video, Tattle Ender by Charity Preston outlines a paper-and-pencil classroom management program. Using this approach, students who bring any issue to the teacher that is not of immediate concern are directed to record the issue using a special procedure. At week’s end these notes are reviewed by the teacher who determines which, if any, require additional attention.
Finally, this FREE 2:08 minute You Tube video, Tattle Questions, is a quick, fun song that can be used any time. Its simple graphics will appeal to K-6 students. The catchy song provides questions children can ask themselves to decide which situations are tattling and which are telling.
With these resources and little patience, there should be less tattling and more time for teaching!