Author Topic: The Playground Tattletale  (Read 5429 times)

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CakeBeret

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The Playground Tattletale
« on: May 13, 2013, 03:14:03 PM »
My son is 3, and on Saturday we went to our local Chick Fil A to have breakfast and let DS play in their play area. Being Saturday, they were busy and there were several other children there as well.

One boy, I'd guess about age 9, took it upon himself to report to the various parents each infraction, real or imagined, of the children playing there. He definitely spent more time reporting other kids' behavior than he did actually playing. He identified which kids belonged to which parents and learned the kids' names, to streamline the tattling process I guess.

So for the hour we were there, he tattled on the various kids for dozens of things, such as making faces, spinning, or knocking on the door to wave at their parents. Believe me when I say that the kids were behaving quite appropriately, and most of this boy's claims were absolutely ridiculous.

I was completely baffled as to how to handle this. The kid's parents were on the far side of the restaurant and likely did not see or hear any of the incidents. When the kid first tattled on my son (for knocking on the door) I asked my son to not knock on the door anymore. The second time, I told my son "that boy is upset, let's try to ignore him and not get in his way."

The kid tried to tattle on my son for a third time, and I let my tone sound exasperated when I asked him to leave my son alone.

Do you folks have any tips for handling tattletale kids? Especially when the other children are honestly doing nothing but playing acceptably?
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sweetonsno

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Re: The Playground Tattletale
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2013, 03:21:42 PM »
"I know <child> is <doing whatever>. I can see him/her. There is no rule against <particular activity>. It is okay for <child> to be doing that."

Zilla

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Re: The Playground Tattletale
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2013, 03:25:38 PM »
At 9 years old I would ask him, "Where are your parents?  Aren't you too big to be in here.  I need to tell them!"  If I am bothered enough.

bah12

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Re: The Playground Tattletale
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2013, 03:26:58 PM »
I think your circle of influence is pretty limited.  If a kid is tattling to you about something your own child did, then it's your call as to whether you address the "infraction" with your child or not.  You can even kindly tell the tattler something like "I know you're trying to be helpful, but I'm watching my child.  I can see what he's doing.  You don't have to tell me anymore."

I think you did right to tell your son to try and stay out of his way and reinforce what behaviors you are ok with and which ones you aren't.  I don't think that I would go as far as addressing the tattling with his parents if they weren't right next to me, but that's just me.   If he wasn't endangering the other kids (just being annoying), then I'd likely leave it alone and let his parents teach him when he should and shouldn't tattle.

Twik

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Re: The Playground Tattletale
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2013, 04:08:24 PM »
It would be interesting to see the dynamics of that family in action. Is the child maliciously trying to get other children into trouble for his own amusement, or has he been so often made the one in charge, and responsible for the actions of younger children, that he automatically falls into this sort of behaviour?
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Lynn2000

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Re: The Playground Tattletale
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2013, 04:13:09 PM »
I think your circle of influence is pretty limited.  If a kid is tattling to you about something your own child did, then it's your call as to whether you address the "infraction" with your child or not.  You can even kindly tell the tattler something like "I know you're trying to be helpful, but I'm watching my child.  I can see what he's doing.  You don't have to tell me anymore."

I think you did right to tell your son to try and stay out of his way and reinforce what behaviors you are ok with and which ones you aren't.  I don't think that I would go as far as addressing the tattling with his parents if they weren't right next to me, but that's just me.   If he wasn't endangering the other kids (just being annoying), then I'd likely leave it alone and let his parents teach him when he should and shouldn't tattle.

POD. It sounds annoying, but I'm not sure there was anything you could have done, except tell him he didn't need to keep talking to you about your own kid. You said his parents were elsewhere; how did the other parents he tattled to react? I would think one or two unenthusiastic responses would've shut him down. But then again, maybe one or two enthusiastic responses kept him going.
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doodlemor

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Re: The Playground Tattletale
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2013, 04:40:41 PM »
Kids sometimes tell teachers some very weird things.  One of our standard replies was........

Thank you for sharing that with me.

TootsNYC

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Re: The Playground Tattletale
« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2013, 05:08:18 PM »
It would be interesting to see the dynamics of that family in action. Is the child maliciously trying to get other children into trouble for his own amusement, or has he been so often made the one in charge, and responsible for the actions of younger children, that he automatically falls into this sort of behaviour?

It's also possible he has mild developmental issues, or an anxiety issue, that makes it hard for him to reconcile the idea that minor misbehaviors (making faces, e.g.) are acceptable. He sees misbehavior, and it flips a switch for him, and he needs someone to make it stop. Or he believes that it should stop or the "good order of the world" will fall apart.

*inviteseller

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Re: The Playground Tattletale
« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2013, 05:37:53 PM »
It would be interesting to see the dynamics of that family in action. Is the child maliciously trying to get other children into trouble for his own amusement, or has he been so often made the one in charge, and responsible for the actions of younger children, that he automatically falls into this sort of behaviour?

It's also possible he has mild developmental issues, or an anxiety issue, that makes it hard for him to reconcile the idea that minor misbehaviors (making faces, e.g.) are acceptable. He sees misbehavior, and it flips a switch for him, and he needs someone to make it stop. Or he believes that it should stop or the "good order of the world" will fall apart.
POD to TootsNYC.  My younger DD has OCD traits (not full blown, just exhibits mild behaviors) and she is always pointing out others behaviors she doesn't think are correct, but we worked with her early to make sure that she only brings it up to me, not the kids or their parents (they called her the sheriff at daycare).  But, 9 yrs old seems to be a bit old to be in a fast food playground which are geared usually to small children, unless he was watching someone younger.  And if he did have known issues, a parent should be with him to monitor  him.  If he had come up to me, I would have said "I see and it is ok".

blarg314

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Re: The Playground Tattletale
« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2013, 07:48:07 PM »

After the first time or two, I think a "Please stop bothering us" is appropriate, followed by ignoring the child thereafter.



TootsNYC

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Re: The Playground Tattletale
« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2013, 08:08:05 PM »
I got so that I wouldn't punish or reprimand/admonish/chide/chastize my child on anyone else's say-so. Not even another parent.

I might investigate, but I sure didn't correct my kid because someone ELSE thought he needed it. I investigated. Then if I agreed with the original assessment, I'd find a not-particularly-gratifying-to-the-complainer way to give my kid the info/correction he needed.

I was lucky, my kids really weren't troublemakers or belligerent. I probably spent more time telling them to just not worry so much about other kids' misbehavior--but my kids also complained only to me, not to the other parent.

And by age 6 they'd figured it out, and just blew off the misbehavior.

johelenc1

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Re: The Playground Tattletale
« Reply #11 on: May 13, 2013, 11:11:24 PM »
I think that is very odd behavior.  Sure, kids tattle on each other - in their family or in the classroom.  But, to tattle on every little thing on perfect strangers to perfect adult strangers...it's odd.

My response to such things is, "thanks, I've got it under control."  The second time, I would be fairly cool when I said it.  After that, I'd get blunt.

delabela

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Re: The Playground Tattletale
« Reply #12 on: May 14, 2013, 12:18:24 AM »
My oldest sometimes does something like this - he is a big talker, so he kind of narrates everything.  Sometimes he just chats about whatever is happening - like he'll tell me "that kid is doing ABC, you don't let me do ABC, it's not safe" or something like that.  My general response to my own kid is to worry about himself, and let the other kids and their adults worry about themselves.

If something like what the OP is describing happened, with a strange kid tattling to me, I'd probably just say something like "it looks like everybody's just trying to play - everything's ok" or something like that. 

TylerBelle

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Re: The Playground Tattletale
« Reply #13 on: May 14, 2013, 05:38:49 PM »
I think you handled it well. There wasn't much more you could have done except either found and talked with whosoever the boy was there with, which may have escalated the issue, or quickly left with your son, which wouldn't be fair if you weren't ready yet to go.

There of course could be several reasons why the boy behaved as such, though what first came to mind for me is he simply wanted to act the big shot. Especially if who he was tattling on were younger than himself. Hopefully the next time your family goes to the restaurant, you all will be left in peace and have a more enjoyable time.
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MrsJWine

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Re: The Playground Tattletale
« Reply #14 on: May 14, 2013, 05:50:21 PM »
That seems weird to me. My firstborn takes it upon herself to police the playground all the time. ::) But she's not yet five. I don't know if I've ever seen a kid as old as nine do it to this extreme. I always ask my daughter, "Does it matter?" Most of the time it makes her stop and think about it and decide that, no, it doesn't matter. I wonder if that would work on a kid who doesn't know you.


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