When Your Child... Tattles on Other Kids

2-min. video | Open Door For Parents with Dr. Eileen

(85 sec. Would you rather read? A transcript is at the bottom of this post.)

Tattling is a common child behavior that’s very aggravating to adults and other kids. But it takes a while for kids to learn not to do it. There’s an interesting developmental progression around tattling: Little kids hit when they’re frustrated, older kids tattle instead of hitting, and even older kids resort to gossiping with peers rather than tattling.

This week’s video talks about some reasons why kids tattle and some guidelines to help your child figure out the difference between tattling and telling.

Saturday morning (US time), you’ll get the next episode of the Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic mini-podcast. Each episode is five minutes or less and features an audio recording of a question about friendship from a kid plus my answer.

This month’s live webinar will be an open-ended conversation hour: Ask me anything about children’s friendships! The recording of January’s webinar for kids is now available. More info is below.

Warm wishes,

Your support matters

If you appreciate the content I provide through Open Door for Parents please help to keep it going by upgrading to a monthly paid subscription. For only $12 a month, you’ll get access to all posts and the full archive plus a coupon code each month worth $20 off a live or recorded webinar. (Please use the monthly subscription option.)



* Ask Me Anything About Children’s Friendships

Wednesday, Feb. 22 @ 8:30 pm (Eastern US time)

This will be an open-ended, live, online conversation hour. You can submit your questions in chat or ahead of time.

(Recording will be available for everyone who signs up.)


RECORDED WEBINARS: Watch at your convenience

  • NEW: Friendship Skills - FOR KIDS! (a webinar for children ages 6-12)

  • Friendship in the Digital Age (This is a recording of a recent presentation in front of a LIVE audience.)

  • Kid Confidence: Help Your Child Build Real Self-Esteem

  • Making Up and Breaking Up With Friends (Q&A session)

  • Parenting During Uncertain Times

  • Help Your Child Cope With Feelings

  • Helping Your Anxious Child (Q&A session)



Video Transcript

When another child does something wrong, some kids run right away to tattle. They might tattle because it makes them feel important and they want to show the adult they’re better than the misbehaving child. Or, they might just not know what else to do when they have a problem with another kid.

Tattling is not a good way to make or keep friends. 

Before going to an adult, your child should ask themselves:

  • Will someone get hurt? 

  • Will something get broken? 

  • Does someone need help? 

  • And, have they tried two ways to solve the problem themselves?

Those situations are about telling, not tattling.

Your child might say, “But what if someone is breaking a rule and the grown-up isn’t doing anything to stop it?!” Tell your child, “Don’t be the playground police!” It’s not their job to correct another kid. 

Trying to get someone in trouble is tattling, and it’s not kind.