Ideas For Curbing Tattling

Jill: Tommy keeps making faces at me! Tommy: Jill stole my pencil! Jack: Tommy is throwing erasers at me! Does this sound familiar? Children love to tattle, and unnecessary tattling can take away from class time. Some children tattle for attention; however, that does not mean that the tattling should go ignored. There are some cases when a student is in trouble, and needs the teacher to help him or her sort out their problem. Maybe there’s a bully in class and the child is being picked on. Whatever the case, a teacher should never ignore a student’s plea for help. For those that simply want to tattle to gain attention, there are certain strategies and ideas that you can implement to reduce the bickering back and forth.

The Right Response Counts Eleanor, Inclusion Teacher: Wappingers Falls, NY

“The response to tattling depends on several issues. A certain level of sensitivity is required when deciding the best method to handle a tattling situation. As a teacher, try to think and be aware of what is going on in the child’s mind. A simple teacher response such as “Is this tattle meant to keep someone out of danger or to get them in trouble?,” or “Thank you for telling me,” or “I’ll look into it” is often all that is required.”

“Tattle No More!” Sandy Kemsley, Former Elementary Teacher

“My third and fourth graders use to tattle all day long. I told them that I could not listen to that many tattles a day. Instead of saying no tattles, I told them they could have one tattle a day. I explained that it was more than fair because I would still have to listen to 28 tattles. Once they were tattled, they could not tattle again until the next day. They were so protective of that one tattle, that most of them didn’t use it. In a couple of weeks, the problem disappeared. :)”

Start Out Right! Mona, 3rd GradeTeacher: Pougkeepsie, NY

“At the beginning of the school year and at each quarter, discuss with your students the difference between telling to inform and tattling. Role-play with your students in various situations to determine safety issues that would require teacher knowledge and involvement. In addition, discuss the numerous tattling situations which only have the goal of getting someone in trouble.”

Always Observe! Donna, 2nd Grade Teacher: Kansas City, Missouri

“Take advantage of the observing skills involved when a student reports a tattle to you! The learning possibilities that present themselves are there! Discuss with your students the art of catching classmates being good and demonstrating positive interactions with their peers. Encourage the use of positive statements and use them often.”

A “Tattling Box” Richard, Middle School Teacher: UK

“The concept of a tattling box often helps to cut down the number of tattles. The box is not meant for issues of information regarding students well being or safety. A shoebox with an opening is placed in the classroom. The students write down the problem and a brief description of what happened. Empty the box periodically throughout the day, and consult with the students as needed.”

The Nature of Tattling Debbie, 5th Grade Teacher: Scottsdale, Arizona

“Tattling is an almost unavoidable occurrence in the classroom on all levels. One technique I’ve used on an intermediate elementary level is this. When a student (let’s say Mark) approaches me with a tattle, such as “Joey won’t let me play Frisbee”, I ask the student to go get Joey and ask them both to come and see me. Upon their arrival, I explain that they both must speak with each other, in a respectful manner, to discuss the problem. They must brainstorm a resolution that both are in agreement with and then return it to me. I ask if the problem is resolved. If they respond that it is, I ask that they shake hands, and go off and play. If not, they need to continue their discussion until a mutually agreed-upon solution is reached. This allows for the problem to be addressed and resolved with little teacher involvement.”

“Tattle-tale sheet” Iris Bruce, Instructor, 5th Grade

“I had trouble with my students tattling until I developed a “Tattle-tale” Sheet. It had blanks at the top for the Tattler, One being tattled on, and the Tattle. The rest of the page was blank lines. After determining there was no matter of safety involved, I instructed the “Tattler” to fill out the sheet completely. I explained how the problem might need to be explained in detail to fill up the sheet. Writing could be about how it affects the student now or in the future. If needed the student could answer how it would change the school, community, state, nation, or world. Most students do not want to write that much for something trivial.”

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