Modern Manners Monday - Dealing with a Tattletale - Need Your Advice - Divine Lifestyle

Modern Manners Monday – Dealing with a Tattletale – Need Your Advice

Let's face it, good manners are at the top of the list for many mothers when it comes to our kids. Manners are one of my biggest issues with my three children (ages 7, 6 and 3)

Welcome to my new blog series, Modern Manners Monday. I get a lot of reader questions about manners for kids plus I see a lot of posts out there in the blogosphere about the same thing. Short of asking Ms. Manners ourselves, I thought that we could pose our most pressing etiquette and manners questions here.

Feel free to share your thoughts and give advice. I am by no means the etiquette expert but I figure if we put our collective heads together, then the result will most definitely be something of value.


Dear DMM: We do a lot of drop-off play dates. Several mothers and I have an arrangement where we all takes turn hosting. Each person drops off their children for a three hour block of time. I work from home and alternating playdates is one of the ways that I can get a much needed break.

However, when it is my turn to host, this one child is really driving me a little crazy. This child is the consummate tattletale. This child comes to me about absolutely everything and shares it all. EVERY. SINGLE. DETAIL.

These are really things that the children should be able to handle among themselves. Sharing toys. Things that really don't need me to handle and this is besides the fact that this kid doesn't even try to work things out first. She just runs and tells.

I have talked to the child several times. I have explained that we don't do things this way in our house. We try to work things out first before telling on each other. She just won't listen. I have talked to the mother and she brushes it off.

I like our playgroup arrangement but I am starting to really dislike this child and in fact, my daughter came to me to tattle on her brother the other day.

What can I do?


Email your questions to stacieconnerty (at) gmail (dot) com and I will get them posted as space becomes available. Please put “Modern Manners Monday” in the Subject line.

Totally inspired by the fabulous woman who is The Broke Socialite.

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23 Comments Leave a Comment »

  1. Lindsay

    I think it really depends on the age of the child, but this is really pretty common behavior for most kids. I don’t think it would be fair to everyone to disband the group just because you don’t like that the kid “tattles” a lot. My own kids do it to me and I still like them. 😉

    My advice is to simply deal with it. It sounds like you only have to see this child once every few weeks and only for a few hours even then. Let the kids have their fun and let the moms have their time alone. It’s such a precious commodity and it would be a real shame to see it end over something this trivial.

    • Stacie

      I am not sure how often she sees the child but I think that it was every week. It was obviously bothering her since she asked for advice.

      Thanks for weighing in.

    • Lisa from Life with Lisa

      My 7 year old son tattles on his 17 year old brother and 31 year old father and it drives me nuts! Granted, sometimes I’m thankful but other times it is annoying – regardless I always tell him tattling is against the rules unless you or someone else is getting or going to get hurt.

  2. diane

    I think you are handling it just right by ignoring it. Just say ‘well, thats nice’ or whatever and send the child back to deal with things herself. It will take a while but once she figures you arent going to help out, the issue should disappear. As to your own kids, I would say handle it the same way and tell them that while so and so might be a big tattle tail, you dont like it and want them to work out their own issues as best they can. Oh, the joys of child rearing!

  3. My daughter’s teacher has a great way of handling tattling in early elementary. She simply doesn’t allow them to finish the sentence. The hand goes up and the look comes out, situation finished. I realize you are dealing with younger kids here but it can still be equally effective with a firm “Sweetie we don’t handle things that way here. Please focus on being your best self and go back and play. Thank you!” Teens and toddlers aren’t very different. Less words brings greater result ~ good luck!

    • Stacie

      Molly! That is perfect. I just sent your response to the woman who wrote in about this problem because I love it so much. Absolutely perfect!

      Thanks so much!

  4. My four year old daughter tattles.. a lot. She is a huge stickler for the rules and doesn’t understand when someone (another child her age, her 11 yr old brother, or an adult) breaks a rule.
    Before someone kicked my daughter (and I) out of a playgroup because my daughter might tattle too much, I would appreciate it if one of the mother’s would talk to me about it first so I can address the issue.
    Kids need to be made aware that it’s ok to ‘tattle’ when someone is doing something dangerous or that could hurt someone but not to tattle about someone taking a toy away or peeking in a room they are supposed to be in.

  5. As the mom of a child who will absolutely BURST if she doesn’t get her thoughts out (especially tattles), I have an idea! Why not get some paper and crayons, and put them out on a table aside from everything. When she feels the need to tattle, have her go draw a picture or write (if she can) what happened and leave it out. Tell her you’ll look at them later and address them privately with the other child, if they need to be.

    That way, she can express her feelings of injustice, and you don’t have to gear it!

  6. Ginger

    Great question and comments too. When in that situation, I ask my boys how they would solve the problem… it doesn’t always work, but I hope that it encourages them to problem-solve and maybe next time try to do that first before coming to me. I rarely offer up a solution.

    • Stacie

      Thanks for weighing in Ginger.

      I tend to agree. I am definitely in favor of giving my children the tools to handle stuff like this on their own before having to bring in an adult.

  7. Melody

    I always have said to my children to ask the person nicely to stop doing what they are doing and if they don’t stop, then they can come to me. I encourage them to handle it themselves first if they can.

  8. When I think of motherhood I know I need to get ready for wiping runny noses and changing diapers and helping with homework and planning healthy meals and so much stuff. But this post and the advice inside is a wakeup call about all the insane stuff parents have to think about on top of the nuts and bolts. To all the moms and dads out there who are at least trying to raise happy healthy kids, I take my hat off to you.

    Good luck with this dilemma. I have no insights, but maybe in about 10 years I’ll come back and give my two cents. 🙂

  9. Desiree Torres

    As a teacher, I ask them one question: is what your tattling about a dangerous situation where someone is going to get physically hurt? If not, I say “I know that you are a big girl/boy and can work it out together. I trust you. Now, go do it and make me proud!”

  10. I usually suggest ignoring the behavior (“oh that’s interesting and then move on”) but it sounds like that isn’t working.

    Another option is to ask the child: “It sounds like you have a problem. How would you like to solve that?” It’s not the adult’s problem so why should they solve it? Another option would be to set up a problem board for the playgroup. Everyone is welcome to list (and depending on their age that could mean, write, draw, cut out pictures) their problems on the board and if need be, there can be a problem solving session at the next play group. Granted, I usually use the problem board for families but I don’t see why it couldn’t work for a play group. I would be willing to bet (based on the age of the group) that by the next week, all problems would be miraculously solved.

    here’s a short description of how to manage problem solving sessions:

    Hope that helps!


  11. Eileen

    with 30 years of “practice” I still go crazy on this one! I guess when it’s your kids who do it to each other, you have the ease of knowing you all live in the same house and have rules that everyone has to adhere to. Having this be out of your family circle is tough. Guess I am wondering if the other mom truly IS not bothered by it or if it’s her way of avoiding the embarrassment of this? Id also say something like, wow…maybe you guys should talk this out and see if you can fix this. I sure hope you can so you can still be good friends.
    In this kids defense, we have things that happen in our house and I sometimes say, before you take action you dont understand…they need to come and talk to mom or dad first. Maybe this mom asks this child to always report to her on most everything. If this is so, this kid might be simply reporting to an adult what is going on. Its obvious this child has not learned how to work things out…and if the parent is oblivious to it, its hard to fault the kid completely. children live what they learn and vice versa.

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