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Quit Tattling on Children
September 8, 2022
Play is the foundation of learning, creativity, self-expression, and constructive problem-solving. It’s how children wrestle with life to make it meaningful.
-Susan Linn, American psychiatrist

"When children come to us with stories of others’ wrongdoings, with the hope that we will punish the offender or praise the reporter, we call it ‘tattling.’ …Yet, when early childhood educators do the same at the end of the day, we try to call it 'partnership,'" writes Heather Bernt-Santy, also known as That Early Childhood Nerd. Now available in the Exchange Reflections discussion guide, "Quit Tattling on Children," Bernt-Santy’s article of the same name invites readers to consider the possible impacts of sharing negative behavior reports with families, including:

  • "Tattling is about power, and when there is a power imbalance, relationships suffer."
  • "Reporting a child’s mistakes in their presence…can be dehumanizing and may impede healthy identity development."
  • Families may interpret these conversations as requests to punish the child at home.

Bernt-Santy then invites readers to reflect on more supportive ways to communicate with families about their children’s behavior and development. Among other considerations, she asks, "are we able to share not just the behavior we see, but the ways we are already working to help support and understand what we see happening when they are with us? …Are we using these conversations as an opportunity to advocate for the child and to educate families about appropriate expectations and responses?"


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