My younger son Tommy is a terrible tattler. His older brother Jared has started beating him up. Please tell me what to do!
Mom in Ohio
Oh, yes, I know this well.
“Mo-om, Johnny spilled his cranberry juice all over your new ______.”
When a child tattles to a parent, it is often in an attempt to win the “I-am-clearly-the-better-child-how-could-you-even-want-that-other-child” award. Therefore, if you can actually give your child this award, he may be satisfied. So try saying “You sure are better at not spilling, Tommy – boy does that Jared make me mad sometimes.”
This kind of emotional experience for Tommy may put a dent in his need to try to prove to you, a thousand times a day, that he is clearly the better child. Because you will be hearing him.
I know you may be tempted to use the old “it’s not nice to tell on your brother” strategy, here. What this strategy could do, however, is actually increase Tommy’s need to keep “telling” until you get it through your head, and can finally acknowledge, that he is clearly the more loyal and devoted son, and that you should even get rid of that other boy of yours. Consider this a compliment. You must be very special.