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Tattle Tales: The Moral Compass of a 4 Year Old

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The Princess has been officially labelled “The sheriff” of her kindergarten class.  She stands behind her teacher at circle time and “scowls” at the children that are not listening to the teacher.  And everyday I receive a play-by-play of the events of the day.  I have a tattle tale.  At first I became slightly concerned by this behaviour, as frankly, no one really likes a tattle tale.   Then upon researching, I came to find out that developmentally, this is exactly what she is to be doing.  In a 4 year old’s social development, tattling on friends is just another normal, while irritating, stage that unfortunately lasts for about a year.

Children at this age are very aware of rules and don’t necessarily like it when other children do not follow them, so they tattle.  Sometimes they are being picked on or bullied, so they tattle.  What is a parent to do?  I have tried to explain that unless someone is getting hurt or is hurting her directly, the consequences of that behaviour is none of her concern.  I also have tried to teach her to try to solve these said issues without asking for an adult to intervene.   I understand that her tattling is her way of navigating her moral compass.  When someone else shoves, or curses or does something deemed “inappropriate” she is sure to let people know that it is “bad”.  I feel comforted at least that I know that she has a grasp of right and wrong, I just have to curb the tattling behaviour.

Did your children tattle and how did you change that behaviour?