In Defense of Tattletales: 3 Reasons You Want Your Kid to Tattle
If you look up synonyms of the word tattletale you get words like snitch, nark, rat, blabbermouth, gossip, and betrayer. This is surprising since the actual definition is simply “a person who provides information about another’s wrongdoing.” Why do we look down on those who bring wrongdoings to light?
Child sexual abuse thrives in secrecy. If we encourage people, our children especially, to look the other way when someone is doing something that makes them uncomfortable or that they know is wrong then we are, in some cases, condoning the behavior. We’re allowing it to continue unabated because it’s easier than having an uncomfortable conversation.
What if instead of a “snitches get stitches” mentality, we embraced transparency and truthfulness? Here are 3 reasons you should encourage your child to be a tattletale:
It encourages open communication.
If you want your child to talk to you openly and honestly then that means allowing them to tell you anything and everything. This might mean “tattling” on their sibling or a kid at school. Listen. Really listen to what they’re telling you and it will encourage them to keep talking.
It stops harmful secrets.
Not just sexual abuse, but bullying, drug abuse, etc. If your child has learned that they’ll get in trouble if they “tattle” on someone for small things then they’ll be less likely to tell you when they’re being cyber-bullied on social media.
It protects the people you love.
The more open and honest you are about potentially harmful things, the safer you and your loved ones will be. Allowing your child to come to you with concerns and worries and choosing to respond instead of react will allow them to feel safe.
It might be annoying if your tween comes to you every 10 minutes to complain about her brother doing something, but you set a precedent with your reaction. If you respond lovingly, she’ll be more likely to come to you in the future. If you dismiss her and tell her to stop bothering you, then she will. Even when it matters most.
Sure, tattling may not always be the most constructive thing, and having your child called a tattletale can hurt. But encouraging them to always be open and honest will be the best thing you can do in the long run.