We want children to know they can and should come to an adult when they are in trouble. But, we don’t want them to be tattletales. There is a fine line between these two situations. How can children learn which is which?
Children can learn the difference by asking themselves one question, “When you go tell an adult about what someone is doing, are you trying (and hoping) to get that personin trouble? If you are, it is tattling. If instead you are trying to get help because you are afraid about something, it is not tattling.
Don’t forget teenagers when thinking about tattling. They avoid being tattletales at all costs, but they are not always good at telling what is and what is not tattling.
Adults need to help teens understand that there are things that really need to be reported to adults. For example, when they hear about weapons at school or kids that plan to hurt themselves or others. This is not being a tattletale or a snitch. It is being a responsible person and looking out for their friends.