Dear Mrs. Fletcher,
I've really enjoyed reading your site ever since my mom first sent me the link! I love that you're willing to admit you don't have it all together! So many websites, although helpful, seem to be so together that I wonder what's wrong with me! I may have to use your red sticker idea, we've been eating a lot of cereal with soup spoons lately. ;-)
I have a question for you that I'm hoping you can help me with. Maybe it's something that other ladies that read your site have had a problem with as well?
Our children are 4, 2 1/2 and 1-years-old. We're having a problem with the 4-year-old and tattling. He's always been a talker, but now you'd think he turned into a paid informant! While we definitely want to be made aware of important situations if we haven't yet noticed, such as the baby about to get hurt, the toddler trying to poke him with a thumb tack (sorry, I had to put that in because it occurred as I was typing this email ;-) ) etc. We can't seem to get him to distinguish between the important things and the unimportant (the toddler still hasn't put away his toys, the baby threw her sippy cup etc.).
So far he's been disciplined for telling us about the unimportant and told that we are the parents and we will take care of it, but it doesn't seem to be getting through to him. 99% of what he's telling us about his siblings is in the unimportant category. Yes the 2-year-old will be disciplined for not picking up his toys and yes the baby will also be disciplined for throwing her cup, but he doesn't need to come to tell us, we will find it out on our own within a few minutes and take care of it.
Do you have any ideas? Thank you in advance!
Thanks for your kind words about my site. I am always really blessed to hear how the Lord is using it in other people's lives. And soup spoons- that's funny!
Tattling (what the Bible calls "tale-bearing") is one of those tricky parenting things, I think. You're right; on the one hand you want to be told about a child in danger or a child sinning, but differentiating between what is necessary info and what is gossip is difficult for a little guy. I have a few ideas that might help him gain a little maturity in this area:
1. Everytime he tattles about something that is just gossip, tell him to put his hand on his mouth. Proverbs 30:32 says, "If you have been foolish in exalting yourself, Or if you have devised evil, put your hand on your mouth." Pretty clear! I would look at my 4-year-old and say, "Honey, sit right down and put your hand on your mouth", and then I would briefly explain what he did. If he ran to tell you about the offense so that he could get the sibling in trouble, you can explain his wrong actions.
2. When he gets old enough to write (hopefully you'll have largely conquered this by then) you can have him write down his tattling in a journal you keep just for that purpose. Instead of telling you, he can tell the book. This serves two purposes: you can review what he's written and decide what is info you need, and at the end of the day you can have him read it so he can see clearly his folly.
3. In my short career as a parent, I have been constantly amazed by how LONG it takes some children to clue in to some of the things we're working on. Do not grow weary in well-doing! Keep teaching him precept upon precept and in due season you shall reap!