No One Likes A Tattletale

S has not been well the past week. He has been home with a fever that goes up and down randomly and a sore throat. If his fever doesn’t go up through tonight he’s finally going back to school tomorrow.

At the mention of this during supper he lost his appetite and got all moody and said he doesn’t feel good. I can’t blame him really, who wants to go to school. Well, I never wanted to. But he seems like a boy who really likes school. Or at least he acts like it. This is totally normal though. After 5 days of no school and lying around at home it does seem like a downer to have to go to school. What made this incident stick in my head is a conversation he and I had over lunch.

I don’t know how we got on the subject but we were talking about good and bad people. I told him that the majority of people in the world are good and there are few really truly bad people. Which gave me an opportunity to tell him that he shouldn’t feel pressured to do things that make him feel uncomfortable or that upsets him even if a grown up tells him he has to. I told him he has the right to ask why, to say he doesn’t want to and so on and so forth.

S said he sometimes feels like that at school. I was thinking of peer pressure. Of bullying. Of horrible things like smoking. What he told me was that it bothered him when the boys lied or did things that were wrong. And that they get upset when he tells the teacher. (insert frustrated, hair pulling sounds here).

I explained to him that he shouldn’t tattle tale. That, in fact,he shouldn’t point out the bad things that the other boys do unless it put them or others in danger. And that boys are mean and will always be bad and he will be labeled the tattle tale of the school. He then reminded me that when we move back in a couple of weeks he is going to a new school where he will only have one class mate, who happens to be a girl.

My son isn’t a goody two shoes. I’m trying to understand why he would choose to tattle tale in the first place… He isn’t a huge tattle tale when he’s at home… not more than the other kids around us. And he get ZERO attention or reward for it. And he obviously is getting no rewards from his friends at school although I suspect that the teachers probably reward him for it. I do not want my son to be that boy.

The problem is he’s no angel! It’s true he doesn’t like to lie and if he does lie it doesn’t take long for him to confess as it makes him feel bad. But he is tricky, he tries to get out of his responsibilities when he can, he pushes his sisters buttons, he does naughty boy stuff like all 8 year olds do.

He now seems relieved that he doesn’t have to deal with a classroom full of boys in his new school and this gives me a sinking feeling in my stomach now… Again I am asking myself, am I doing the wrong thing here? Maybe he needs a classroom full of boys making fun of him or getting upset at him so he can change his behavior.

So, How do I discourage his tattle telling? And am I depriving him of learning life lessons by taking away the class full of boys? 


  1. I think that as is true for a lot of situations where caring parents are privy to the daily classroom or play ground antics, we tend to over interlectualize and make conclusions based on our own experiences or insecurities …Undestandably of course….. Often children work these things out better without our imput…. ( unless it’s asked for ). The most valuable learning experiences… lessons we don’t forget …. are experiencial and not taught….Sometimes it helps to stand back and let children be children and deal with things as is required….or age and maturity appropriate ….otherwise we risk encouraging fears related to not being able to achieve a desired adult perspective outcome…. ….

    • Raewyn, I think you are probably totally right. It is just so difficult to step back and not try and help sometimes. Especially in situations when you know your child is doing a socially unacceptable thing. Yesterday was the first time he mentioned this and he has otherwise seemed totally fine… if it were a big problem I would have probably noticed that something was off. Thank you for your sage advice :-)

  2. Maybe your son is a rule follower when provided with a structured atmosphere and goals. What is the purpose behind his tattle tale behavior? It might be that he is trying (within his limited power) to bring order to chaos. He might even dislike being a tattle tale, but feels he has no other choice. This might explain why he is relieved to be transferred to a new setting where it is highly unlikely he will have to resort to being a tattle tale.

    • He is really big on following the rules and he does get frustrated when people don’t follow them while he always does. But he also likes being right. Hopefully the new setting will be beneficial not detrimental.

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