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Labeling Children Tattle-Tales - Could It Be Detrimental?

Updated on November 8, 2009

The older I get, the less surprised I am about how contradictory we as adults can be.

* The Contradiction Begins.

Case in point - we parents and educators especially, endeavor to instill in our children the need to express themselves without being combative. Often, we encourage them not to use harsh words, harsh looks, or their hands to solve problems. What do we do instead?

We encourage the use of compromise and diplomacy as an alternative to successfully solving problems. In the event one of their peers displays an combative attitude or combative ways (such as biting, hitting, pulling hair, pinching, shoving, name calling, etc.), we instruct them to restrain from retaliating and promptly go and inform a teacher, parent, or other person of authority (i.e. principal or guidance counselor).

So then, why is it that when they follow through, we instantly label them as tattle-tales? On the one hand, if they choose to retaliate they are punished. On the other hand, if they inform on the wrongdoer, they open themselves up for possible ostracism.

* What's A Kid To Do?

So what's a kid to do? Should he/she tell? Should he/she retaliate? Or should he/she bottle it up inside and just deal with it?

Maybe we as parents, teachers, and persons of authority should reevaluate how easily we contradict our own rules and regulations enforced in the home, in the classroom, and in society as well.

As a mother to two toddlers, I actually encourage both my children to tell me absolutely everything.

Since I can't be in two places at one time, many times they've become both my eyes and ears. No matter how often they come and inform me of who did what, what they saw, or what they heard, not once have I resorted to calling them tattle-tales.

Taking such a course, I feel, stifles a child's desire to communicate their thoughts, desires, and concerns both large and small. In addition, it may discourage children from sharing information that is both vital and lifesaving for themselves and others.

Therefore, before we travel down that path of obvious contradictions, ask yourselves: How will labeling such impressive minds tattle-tales, effect their communication skills in the long run? What does our informing them to tell, and then ostracizing them for doing so, say about us?

To label a child a tattle-tale or not? - Now that's the question.


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