Curing Tattle Tales

4:15 PM

Okay teachers. I have discovered something. Or rather, uncovered it. I'm not sure where this inspiration came from, but it has completely changed how I feel at the end of the school day. It has to do with the dreaded teacher issue of tattling.

When my children tattle, it makes me crazy. I can't stand it. It irritates me and frustrates me. It's my least favorite thing about teaching. I know and recognize that it is a natural part of childhood, and that because my students trust me and know that I support them, they want to naturally bring their problems to me so I can help them. But I strongly believe that it is more important to teach them how to get along WITHOUT teacher intervention or at least as little intervention as possible.

Which is where my discovery comes in. When students come to me tattling I reply with a simple response: "Why are you telling me? I didn't do that." This makes them think and realize that *I* cannot/should not solve their problem. When I tried this the first time, they tilted their little heads and looked at me with confusion. Then they thought about what I had said. This is when I encouraged them to go and talk it out with the person who was bothering them, and not me. After all, I didn't cause the problem. Their friend did. And to solve it they needed to talk with their friend, not me.

This is where it is important to get out of the way. Most often, they can simply talk it out together and figure out what to do together, which I sometimes think is the most important of kindergarten skills to learn. I often suggest my students step into the hallway to discuss and come back when a solution is found. If they can't come to conclusion, I help, but at little as possible. Often I sit between them and ask them to tell me their issue, and simply repeat what they said back to them. We go back and forth until things are smoothed out. A typical conversation goes like this:

Lucy: "Mrs. Broughton! Suzy put her ponytail in my face!"
Me: "Why are you telling me? I didn't put my ponytail in your face."
Lucy: **Looks quizzically at me**
Me: "Why don't you talk to Suzy about it?"
Lucy: **Goes to Suzy** "Suzy I don't like that you put your ponytail in my face"

Usually, this conversation continues on to solution on it's own. But in the case that it doesn't, here is how I would participate:

Me:  "Suzy, Lucy doesn't like how you put your ponytail in her face."
Suzy: "I didn't mean to, I was just standing in line and scooted back and did it on accident."
Me: "Lucy, Suzy says it was an accident. How do you feel about that?"
Lucy: "I didn't like it."
Me: "Suzy, Lucy still wants you to know she didn't like it."
Suzy: "I really didn't mean to. I'm sorry, will you please forgive me?"
Lucy: "I guess it's okay. I forgive you."

Now obviously this is the ideal way this would go. But I hope that you'd be surprised that it goes this way more often than not. Especially if you really hammer home a clear and distinct way to apologize, which I do as often as possible. I only try to involve myself if the kids are really getting upset and can't quite get their emotions in check. They need practice discussing issues and brainstorming solutions. Obviously my little narrative above isn't one of those situations, but you get the idea of the technique I use. If it appears that a solution is not going to come, I will sometimes suggest a break until the emotions level out and then bring them together again to try to sort it out. But this rarely is the case. Usually they can and will sort it out themselves!

Try this. I dare you. You might find that they stop coming to you because they know what you are going to say, and skip that step altogether and start a conversation on their own. I found some kids doing it the first day! Good Luck!

Did you try this? Did it work for you? I'd love to hear your experience!

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