What to Do About a Child Who Tattles on Siblings

Why do some children resort to tattling on their brothers and sisters? Maybe they need to have their feelings validated by Mom or Dad.

If you’re the parent of more than one child then you’ve probably already heard it – the call of the tattle taler! When it comes to sibling rivalry, there is often one child who regularly turns to Mom or Dad, spilling every detail about a tiff they’ve had with brother or sister. So, what do we do about it? Should we rush to the rescue believing every word that’s said? According to parent educator Diane Loisie, when it comes to dealing with tattle taling, less is more.” We need to learn to ignore tattle tales, because the goal of that child is to get attention from you. When they come in and tell you what big brother or sister did, what they’re trying to get from you is that they’re better than their sibling. And so we have to be careful with that kind of thinking.”

Diane adds that while acting on your child’s tales isn’t a good idea, hearing your child out is okay. “When a child comes and is telling on a brother or sister, we need to hear what they’ve said, but give it back to them to solve the problem. But do hear what they’ve come to tell you so that they feel validated.”

Sometimes all the active listening in the world does little to change the tattling behavior. If that’s the case, then Diane says you may find the best cure for tattle taling is a family meeting. “What you really need to do is have a family meeting and talk about the problem and let each member of the family express from their perspective what’s going on and what can be done to solve it.”

Family meetings also give your other children a chance to be heard. In the long run they’ll all learn that you believe in treating each one of them respectfully and fairly and that’s a great role model for all children, including tattle talers!


Adapted from The Parent Report Radio Show. Any advice or information contained herein should never be a substitute for professional and/or medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. For more information please review Terms of Service.

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