Saturday, July 21, 2007


There is an interesting post up at Parent Hacks about children and tattling:

From Sara:

Kara and her local playground moms sit at a picnic table while the kids play. Around this table they've drawn a circle in the dirt. Why? Well, the circle is the "no tattling zone". Brilliant, isn't it?

It is, for those kids that understand the concept of tattling. Frankly, I find that concept hard to teach. There's a fine line between snitching and coming to an adult for legitimate help. It's a subtle distinction -- too subtle for my kids (and sometimes even me) at this point.

Any thoughts?

Kara's No Tattling Zone makes sense to me. Tattling is not reporting legitimate problems to parents. Rather, it is a mechanism that children use to involve parents as the nuclear bomb to gain an advantage over other children with whom they are having disagreements. Children need to learn the ability to resolve their own disagreements without running to mommy and daddy, and parents who reward their children's tattling are doing them no favors.

There are a number of comments to this post that are very dismaying. Following is a representative sample:
I worry that this "don't bother us" method may teach kids that they are failures if they can't solve their own skirmishes or unhappinesses without external guidance or the guidance of adults.
I remember the 'no tattling' rules at school being very isolating - it felt very much as if nobody cared how I felt.
Sounds more like a "Don't bother mommy zone" to me. I think that (especially in today's society) kids need to feel free to come to adults for help no matter what the situation is.
Sometimes, I get the feeling that many modern parents are intent on using their children as yet another form of conspicuous consumption. By this, I mean that they attempt to compete with their peers by conspicuously displaying their concern for their children and the seriousness with which they take parenting. When children get older, this can take the form of the parent inserting himself or herself into the child's academic career, arguing over grades with the child's college professors and dictating what courses the child take in college. When the child is younger, it can take the form of refusing to let the child be a child and figure out things about life and dealing with other people by himself. Like I wrote before, parents like these commenters are doing their children no favors.

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