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Behavior: 2 strategies for tattling

Date: March 29th, 2017
By: Polly Bath

Polly Bath: Tattling. Tattling can create a disruption depending upon how you deal with it, whether you allow it to create a disruption or not.

Two scenarios. The first one is a classic. It’s one I include in my book. A little boy is in line coming in from recess. Everybody is accusing him of doing everything. “Anthony did this. Anthony did that. Anthony did this.” Well, Anthony usually does do it. That’s the problem.

We tend to fall right into that. What we need to do is redirect the rest of the kids. So, I take their accusations into my mind and go, “OK. I’ll take them into consideration.” But I don’t want to really go to battle right now with that.

Second scenario. I have a little girl in the playground. I do recess duty. I’m out through the playground. A little girl comes up to me and she says, “Anthony has got rocks in his pocket.”


I call that the informant.


There’s always the informant on the playground. Isn’t there? They come running up to you. “Anthony has got rocks in his pocket.”


You know what I say to her? “Oh, you know what? I saw you in the slide today. Do you like the slide better than the swing?”

“Well, no. I actually kind of like the swing better.”

“Oh, well, let me see how you do the swing,” and send her off on her way. Redirect her and send her off on her way.

Then, of course, I very discretely will put my eyeballs over to see what Anthony’s doing. What I don’t want to do is say, “Oh, thanks for telling me,” and run over to see Anthony, because then she’s sitting over there going, “This is great. This is how I get my needs met.”

See, tattlers want attention. They want attention. They want to see what are you going to do with that tattling? I don’t want to feed into that need for attention. I’ll redirect them. It doesn’t mean I won’t put an eye over there to see if it really happened, so I can intercept that.

Now, little Anthony comes out and I happen to walk over his way and I go, “Hey, how’re you doing today, Anthony? Good to see you.” He looks up and his pants are down to here because he’s got rocks filling his pockets.


He’s trying to pull up his pants and is like, “I’m good. I’m good. I’m good.” He finally takes the rocks out and goes, “I think these rocks would look better on this side of the playground.”

I go, “OK, they do look better there, Anthony. Make sure you don’t put them in your pocket ever again.”

“OK,” and we’re done.