tattling present participle of tat·tle (Verb)
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My kindergartner is no angel. He challenges authority, experimenting all behavioral options and testing for weakness. He’s a perfectionist and hates to lose at anything—bursting into tears or having a meltdown for something as minor as not being in line first. He has the amazing superpower of Not Listening and can drive even the most patient person batty.
He observes those around him to see what to do, what not to do, and “Gee, I haven’t tried THAT yet.”
Kindergarten has taught him quite a few things I wish it hadn’t.
One thing I never expected him to learn was how you can’t go to a teacher with a problem.
A boy pushes you down on the playground? Or someone picks on you repeatedly and refuses to stop?
You aren’t supposed to tell your teacher. Why?
Because it is TATTLING—an offense so great a teacher will force the child to drop a color if they dare confide in them.
Can you think of a better environment for a bully to thrive? As long as they hide their actions from the direct view of the teacher, they are untouchable.
It is a policy that puts the blame and punishment on the victim.
I admit, my son will often stretch the truth to outright lie if he thinks it will get him out of trouble. Looking into his eyes, I can often tell when such is going on.
Last Friday, my son had a sad face for the day—nothing new as he will often have at least one a week for the behavior mentioned above.
But on this day there was also a note from the PE teacher, saying he’d pushed a child so hard they hit their head on the ground.
I was stunned. Yes, my child is physical and strong and doesn’t seem to realize his own strength. Yes, he earned his blog nickname “The Tackler” for a reason, but usually his actions had a reason. Retribution. Sibling rivalry. Defense. Mimicry.
I asked, “Why would you push someone during run club.”
“Because they [his friends] kept pulling my jacket and they wouldn’t stop when I told them to.”
“Why didn’t the teacher stop them?”
His response was instant. “She was busy with the papers to count laps.”
“Hon, when someone bothers you and won’t stop when you ask, you need to tell the teacher.”
His eyes watered, frustration showing through—far too genuine to be an act. “I can’t, Mom because that’s tattling and you have to move your clip down a color if you tattle.” He gave recent examples of other classmates who had to do so when they tattled.
To him, tattling is THE WORST offense he can do.
I agree, tattling is annoying and I’m sure if you multiply it by nineteen other children, it could overwhelm you.
But here’s the thing. My son is five, almost six.
He doesn’t truly understand what it means to “tattle”. To him, tattling is asking a teacher for help with a problem that *could* get someone else in trouble.
It includes being picked on and bullied.
Even if my son pushed the child without cause, the jacket grabbing scenario a ruse to get out of trouble, his vehemence against tattling is true.
Four months left of kindergarten, and my son is already trained to NOT ask for help if he needs it. In a few more years with this indoctrination against “tattling”, it won’t even occur to him to try.
Is this really the message we want to send our kids? To fight their battles alone, helpless? To allow bullies to run unchecked because the bullied victim would get into as much trouble as the bully?
Schools wonder how bullies become such a problem—they don’t realize their very policy breaks children of the urge to ask for aid from the start.
There will be a discussion with the teacher(s) and likely the principal in the future. Because I cannot stand by and watch my child be bullied.
Each time he is, he learns from it. He imitates it. He mimics.
And one day, HE might be the bully that no one will speak out against and I will have no idea because the school will be equally clueless.
If we truly want to fight bullying in schools, the schools need to open their eyes and the communication lines for reporting it, not stick their heads in the sand and punish anyone who reports a troublemaker.
This “blaming the victim” BS has to stop.
Kindergarten seems a good place to start.
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