Summer. Here’s the deal… summer means different things to different people.
Young children do well with routine and, well… not a lot of that happening when the final school bell rings. My kids are in beach camp this month which has the added dilemma of camp friend dynamics, spending all morning in the sun, and the hidden grenade that is ice cream after lunch. And sunblock. Applying sunblock to 4 wiggling bodies takes 3 hours a day.
What does all this mean for the Smith family? Eleanor, our more cautious child, takes a few weeks to get used to her new friends and the new counselors… every morning she’s looking for another comfort item to bring/ wear to camp. Might be a swim cap, might be butterfly wings, might be leg warmers. (Yeah… no idea.)
Oliver would be comfortable amongst a group of Russian tourists, but he has his summer moment at camp pick-up when he can’t have an ice cream cone every day. Lots of “it’s no fair”, “you’re wrong” and- my favorite- “poopoo baby.”
Martha has learned to fix herself breakfast… which means a plate of whatever pastry item I forget to hide away the night before. Powdered donuts or cinnamon rolls are the hot ticket items… but she’s found chocolate chips, crackers and string cheese. And in typical three-year-old fashion, never a bite of dinner. Being in camp every morning with big kids all around has given her lots of big-kid behaviors to emulate!
Louisa is lapping up the attention she gets every morning with everyone out of the house and has become an epic diva. Her rider includes demands such as juice, her babydoll and yogurt. Lots and lots of yogurt. And early lunches… girl’s got an appetite.
That’s the state of the state over here. Which brings me to the latest dilemma in the Smith house… tattling. Tattling pops up between ages 4 and 7 for lots of reasons! Kids have a concrete grip on rules at a younger age so it can often be a personal affront when another child breaks ‘said’ rules…Children also get a certain sense of power by ‘telling on’ someone; it gets them attention and might be a way for them to assert themselves over another child. And then there’s the obvious reason for tattling: getting someone else in trouble.
But, here’s the thing… on lots of levels I *want* my kids to tell me things. I NEED them to keep me informed. I’m outnumbered BIG time around here and I rely on my little army of eyeballs to keep me up to speed. But… there’s a VERY important difference between “reporting” and “tattling.” Tattling is telling me something in order to get another child in trouble. It’s telling me something to get ahead in the pecking order. Tattling is avoiding the problem solving and looking to me to fix a minor dilemma. No bueno.
Reporting, on the other hand is letting me know if someone is hurt or somewhere they’re not supposed to be or potentially breaking something. All key pieces of info. when you have a 3-year-old cat burglar and an 18 month-old foodie who likes to taste anything. For an adult, it’s a clear distinction, but for a gaggle of kids under 7… the nuance is foggy to say the least. I’ve been using the words “reporting” and “tattling” to begin showing the kids which is which and I made this handy chart to make it even more obvious (I hope!).
Pin this image for later and you’re welcome to click the link below and print out your very own copy! (Only for personal use, please… NOT for resale!)
This isn’t my first rodeo, so I know that a cute printable won’t mean peace and joy all summer, but… it’s one more step towards teaching these children self-sufficiency, self-advocacy, and self-confidence! It also *might* mean I have time to finish a cup of coffee while it’s still hot!! A summer vacation miracle!
How do you teach your kids the difference between tattling and keeping you up to speed? Any other tips for keeping the tattling at bay? Does it make your ears bleed? Gah!
Don't miss a post! Sign up for email or RSS updates!