I'm Telling!: Why Telling Doesn't Always Mean You're a Tattletale
Tips for Social Coaching
- Set your child up for success socially. Short, structured play time is best for the child who has difficulty playing with others.
- Make sure your child and his playmates fit well together from a temperament perspective. A child who is either too controlling or too passive may not be the best fit for your child’s social skills.
- Be clear about what requires telling and what doesn’t. Let your child know that it is always important to tell an adult when safety issues are involved.
- Role-play with your child various situations to show him which require adult involvement. Give examples of situations where telling an adult is warranted.
- Discuss some of your child’s options for working out problems with friends or siblings. Taking turns, asking an adult for help, or simply playing alone are specific options your child has when she is feeling overwhelmed.
- Give your child effective language tools on how to get help socially. Sentences such as, “We can’t agree on what to play,” or “We both want the same toy,” will help your child resist the urge to yell and tell.
- Anticipate the situations that your child finds difficult and be prepared to help him. A lot can be said for intervening before situations get out of hand.
- Role model effective problem-solving behavior. Your child learns so much from watching you. Show her the right way to navigate social difficulties.
- Reassure your child that he needs only to worry about his own behavior; you will be sure to manage the behavior of siblings and friends.
- Resist the urge to call your child a tattletale. Negative labels never help children make better choices.
- Listen to the feelings behind the tattling. If your child has difficulty handling her feelings, she may be coming to you more for support than to tattle.
Always take the information your child tells you seriously. It is important that rules apply to all, but it is especially important when issues involve someone being hurt verbally or physically.
Most importantly, remember that your child is learning about accepting boundaries and limits, so be sure to take advantage of these so-called “tattletale moments” in which your child is confronting a conflict by viewing them as learning opportunities that can enrich his life while teaching him invaluable coping skills.
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