Look out Tattlers, we’re telling on you!

The Question:
Tattling has become a very big problem this past week. Are they any ideas that really work with kindergarten students?

The Answers:

Kristin Stack Hale 
Oooh, I can’t wait to see what others come up with because I have used everything I know of, and it’s still going on!! I have read books, talked about tattling vs. telling etc.
Molly Boyle-Colbridge 
Ask the kids , are you tattling or telling? Tattling is when you’re trying to get someone in trouble, telling is when you or someone else is hurt. It works in my class! When they tattle, they are in trouble!
Andrea Bisby-Worster
Ideas that I have heard in the past are: You could have a picture of the President in you classroom and have them “Tell the President” instead of you. You could also have a tattle book in which they have to write or draw about what is happening.
Jannis Litz
Whenever my kids tattle, I ask them if they are now dead, bleeding, or on fire? They say no, and I tell them to use their words.
Oh, and I use “bug and a wish” to teach them to use their words. It bugs me when you ______________ (hit me, etc), I wish ________ (you would be more careful). I have a picture of a ladybug with a magic wand as my reminder poster.
Amy Hefton Mielechowsky
Use a play phone as the tattle telephone.
Melodie Jacobs
Found this on Pinterest and I really like it. I haven’t shared it with my class yet.
Sarah Lynn
Talk about tattle vs tell, then hang a thick “tail” on the wall. When they come to you with a tattle, tell them to go tell the “tattle TAIL”.
Emily Duke Crawford
 This sounds kinda silly but it works in my room. I have a stuffed giraffe at the corner of my desk. The kids named him George. George is the one who listens to their tattles. I told them to come to me if someone hurt them (physically or their feelings) but if someone “cut” them in line going to the lunchroom then that’s something George needs to hear.
Lindsie Cruz
I had a stuffed flamingo from Build a Bear that was named Frank (kids named him!) and he was who we tattled to. He had a chair in a corner with a stool next to it, pencil and journal. When I introduced him at the beginning of the year, we went over things that we talk to Frank about and things that we talked to a teacher about. I put the journal there so they’d have the option of writing him a note to read after school or whispering in his ear. Frank worked wonders! I’ve kept his journal every year as a keepsake to watch their writing development over the year…it’s fun to go back and read what they wrote about whether it was just a picture of someone crying or a sentence using word wall words and their friend’s names. You were allowed to talk to Frank whenever you needed during the day except during whole group times when we were on the carpet and only one person was allowed to talk to Frank at a time. Good luck!
Pamela Pine Martin
I’ve used the tattle book. It takes them so long to write about the problem that they forget what they were so upset about.
Keri Hughes
I say “tattle?” and they stop!
Erin Smith Miller
Had a tattle book for years and some of the stuff the kids tell on is hilarious! I even had a boy tattle on himself once! If they have to write it every time they want to tattle, it should curb some of their tattling— good luck!
Polly Ingall Siecinski
I also ask them: Are you being helpful or hurtful?
Geri Lutes Sullivan
My student teacher just made “Timmy the Tattle Monster” for my classroom…..she painted a tissue box and gave it eyes and teeth (around the hole)…..whenever the kids start to tell me something, I’ll ask if it is an emergency….if it’s not, I say “Go tell Timmy!”…..so far it’s working….the kid who used to tattle on everyone is now “talking” to Timmy instead of me.
Carmen Salas
I have a Tattle Turtle. It’s a picture of a turtle who is sad on one of my back bulletin walls. If they need to tattle then they have to tell Tattle the Turtle. It’s worked so far in my classroom 🙂
Melodie Jacobs
http://pinterest.com/pin/79235274663870372/ (tattle monsters)
Katie Parker McEvoy
I have a tattle tale book, if they want to tattle they can write it down in the book, deters a lot of kids b/c it takes a lot longer to write it than to say it, LOL!
Lisa Ferron Collins
I have a tattle jar! They write their tattles on little squares of paper, then drop them in the jar. I tell them I read them after they go home when I have some time. I get a good chuckle reading them, and the kids get a little writing practice too! I posted about it on my blog awhile back. http://iteachkinderkids.blogspot.com/2008/09/tattle-tail-tattle-tail.html
Stacy Buchmoyer
I have my students give each other a “Bug and a Wish”. The children say, “It bugs me when… ” and then “I wish you would… ” to the offender. When/If they come up to tattle, I ask them if they did bug/wish and that takes care of it!


Mary Beth Gaudion Thomas

We have the Five Star Expectations at our school…..Show Respect, Responsibility, Self Control, Focus and Problem Solving. When someone tattles, I asked who they are responsible for. If everyone shows responsibility for themselves, then we should have no problems, right?? Works with some groups, not this year, though!

Veronica L. Sutter Davis 

I explained tattling also and used Telly the Turtle for the kids to tattle to. Later on I used a tattle mailbox where they could write or draw their issues. It worked really well and some of the “notes” were really interesting and enlightening!

Lauren Abrahamsen Corsini

I have a picture of a granny…i just implemented this week for the same reason…when they tattle, we say ‘ go tell it to granny’ and they do! At first they thought it was crazy but they do it now! Lol

Empowering Little Learners 

Just my opinion on using a tattling object… it just means the tattling won’t reach you and does not teach kids to solve problems. I used to do a plastic ear myself so I understand. Then I went to a class and they taught me that I need to teach kids to solve their own problems and know when to tell me and when not. Two phrases will change your life… “Oh no… what are you going to do about that?” and “Would you like some suggestions” if they need it. The tattling will stop as students learn you won’t solve their problems and that they need to themselves. It won’t happen over night but students will begin to tell the student who took something from them to give it back. Also.. another thing to think about… even if you break down just once and speak up and say “give the pencil back” because it is easier and you are tired of it… you are reinforcing in the kids that it is ok to interupt you. I never allow kids to interupt me. They must stand and wait for me to finish.. tell my kids directly that they are no more important than any other kid in this class. Sounds harsh but 99% of the problems are not emergencies and you will be able to tell when they are. =) Just some ideas and thoughts.

Lisa Garbin Cornack 

Have a decorated tattle tale bag, children tell their tattles into the bag, at the end of the day, pretend to listen to all the tattles…of course, being very dramatic and making comments as you are listening…”oh, she didn’t do that, oh my that wasn’t very kind…”

Anna Passley 

I found this amazing youtube channel HarryKindergarten and he has some really great songs. The “Don’t Tattle” video has become a favorite with my kids, and they sometimes remind each other if someone is going to tattle. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2XTAo6QEqkM

Ginger Dominy

Tattle book is soooo great!!! Beginning of the year they start out just writing their name and drawing a tattle picture. By the end of the year they are writing detailed sentences describing wrong doings! We read them, then sing Twinkle twinkle little star, here are the problems of our day so far. We wrote them down and we talked them out, now we’re ready to throw them out. Twinkle twinkle little star, now our day will be better by far. : )

Jacqueline Jo 

Tattle box seems to work! They write on strips of paper what happened and their feelings. Some are real funny to read the next day. I address any that might be a problem. Gets kids to write and express themselves without driving me crazy! We talk about that if someone is not hurt or hurting others it goes in the box.

Charlene Daigle

I use a notebook and giraffe named Jane, if its a tattle and no one is bleeding or hurt, draw a picture, write words if you can. Jane wants to know.

Elizabeth Powers Paul 

We have tattle Tuesday. I say sorry it isn’t Tuesday.

Elise Summer Wright 

I have a Teddy Bear puppet named Tattle Tale Teddy. If no one is hurt I tell them to go tell Teddy. They seem content with this idea.

Mary Sacramone Grivas

There’s a great book called “A bad case of tattle tongue” by Julia Cook. It has 4 tattle rules that we have posted in class. Now or later and M.Y.O.B are what I remind them of the most, and they go on their merry way. Love it!

Erin Ebeck

I have a stuffed animal Cat in the Hat and a play phone. I taught the kids that they only need to tell me if someone is hurt or sick or property is being destroyed. For everything else, they tell either the Cat in the Hat (he’s a great listener 🙂 or they call him on the phone if they can’t get to directly. We started this in October and it has worked great all year. Good luck!

Kelsey Frost 

I always tell the kids, “thanks for letting me know” know matter how ridiculous it is. That way they then see which things I address and which things I just let go. The students have always done well with this because they feel heard but they don’t stew on the matters that they notice I don’t react to.

Cindi Siler Bernasconi 

I always emphasize the difference between “reporting” (when someone is hurt or sick) and “tattling”. In kindergarten, we had a tattle box where they could write their concerns. Sometimes it was a picture or invented spelling. It got them writing and helped get concerns off their chests. 🙂

Ashley Allen

I ask them to go use an “I” message. I feel _____ because you _________, please ________________. I reward my students with verbal praise for using I messages to their friends. I also recognize them in front of the whole class during our class meetings on Friday. It works like a charm. I only have 2-3 tattle tales a week. IN KINDERGARTEN. I love it!

Amanda Lord Brown 

Make them be the official tattletale, anyone who tattles has to tell the tattletale and they have to fix the problem. They like this job for about 5 minutes, then they get tired of it! That usually solves the problem.

Shannon Frey 

We create a class poster with big problems and small problems. We collectively come up with the problems and what column the problems belong in. The big problems are the ones I need to know about. The small problems are the ones they need to talk to their classmate about. Small problems are problems kids can solve without teacher intervention. I find this works every year!

Cindy Tuisku 

If they are reporting something that happened to THEM I ask if they have already done Step 1, which is to talk to the person directly. If that didn’t solve the problem, they can tell me and we move to Step 2, and I offer to stand by them while they talk to the person again. While I stand there listening, they work out their problem, but I don’t work it out for them. If they are reporting something that didn’t happen to THEM, I have them apologize for tattling to the person they were tattling on–frustrates the tattling right out of them!

Robyn Geogan Noble 

I ask them, “What would you like me to do about that?” Usually, they say, “nothing,” or they tell me what they would like me to do. Then, I say, “well, I think you can do that yourself.” So far it has worked every time!

Jennifer Peacy Rios 

Read the book A Bad Case of Tattle Tongue  by Julia Cook, then when they come to you and tattle, have them stick out their tongue so you can see if they are getting tattle tongue. It’s pretty effective.

Katie Scohy

I have read the books, Don’t Squeal Unless Its a Big Deal and A Bad Case of Tattletongue….it works for about a day or two this year, but it’s worth a try:)

Ad Nerb

I have a tattling book alongside with an ear… They tell it to the ear n write it in the book…requirements to write… Write own name & date and who theyre tattling on & why… It has worked wonders in my class :D….

Matt Halpern

I’ve used ‘Tattle Tickets’ before. Each child gets a ticket each day. I used post-it notes with their name on it. I post them all on the board or somewhere where they can be seen. If you tattle once, it’s a free-bee. Tattle twice, I get your ticket. If you’re ‘ticket’ is still up at the end of the day, you can trade it in for a prize. After a couple of weeks of doing this, tattling almost ceased entirely and then I stopped it.

Allie Magnuson

I usually say: “I’m glad it wasn’t you.” They get so sick of me saying it that they finally quit tattling. I have also tried using a realistic phone that they go call and I tell them I will listen to the messages when I get home. I have also drawn a tail on the board and they could go tell the tail.

Ashley Parks

I did a lesson on tattling and told the kids if I hold up a T ( Like time-out) that they need to think about if its important or not. Usually they walk away. Good Luck!

Kelli Smith

Tattlin’ Madeline or the tattle turtle

Bethany Charlebois Arsenault 

Ask these questions: Are you in danger? Did you try a “bug and a wish?” Is someone destroying something? Where you unable to help using your words?

Kacie Biggs

The book Don’t Squeal Unless It’s a Big Deal! When the student starts “squealing” I ask, “Squeal or big deal?” The kids know right away if they are tattling or not. I don’t have to ask them much anymore, they already know!

Sara Steward Cooper 

Matt, me too! Amazing what the treasure box can do!!

Ashley Wilson

Tattletongue King. The characters tongue turns purple with yellow spots and gets “itchy,itchy, scratchy, scratchy”. So that’s what I tell my kids now. And they know what we are talking about.

Carrie Blehm Dresslaer

Out school does a lesson on Tattling vs. Telling. When they come up to you ask if it’s a tattle (thumbs down) or a tell (thumbs up).http://familyvolley.blogspot.com/2012/03/tattletale-make-it-stop.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+FamilyVolley+%28Family+Volley%29

Cheri Dodson Smith 

First , I let them know that tattling is telling to get someone in trouble….so when they come to me, I ask them are you telling to keep someone safe? or are you tattling. I also use a cutoff statement, “I’m not taking any tattling today!” which usually works!

Emily Ray


Jennifer Shaw Knapp 

We talk about tattling in the beginning of they year and we discuss who they are responsible for (themselves). If they come to me to tattle, I ask them “Who are you responsible for?” When they say “myself”, then they catch themselves and walk away. 🙂

Naomi Geissel Nobbie 

We read books and talk about tattling at the beginning of the year, but I also use a “tattling monster.” he “eats” your tattles so no one can ever hear them again. He is made out of a tissue box, is adorable, and I found him on Pinterest. If you don’t have Pinterest just google tattle monster. I love it and it works too!

Lindsey Whyte 

My coworker put a Tattling ear (printed out a pic of an ear) on her wall for the kids I tattle to. It’s really quite funny when they’re talking to the wall. I’ve used a stuffed turtle called the Tattling turtle that sits on my desk and they take him to talk to when they need to tattle.

Lauren C. Harkess

On the playground, if one tattles, they have to get off the playground and walk a lap around it. This has really helped outside!

Kristen Kennedy Printup

Tattle tails work wonders. I tape a striped tail on the back of their chairs. If they come to me with a tattle, I make the scissors motion with my fingers. They have to go cut a stripe off their tail. When all the stripes are gone, they have to take center time to write a tattle note which has to be signed by mom or dad.

Ashleigh Hanshew

When we have kids constantly tattling in our kindergarten and pre k class, everytime they tattle and its not important, after they finish tattling we look at them and say, “my feet hurt.” They look at us like we are crazy and sometimes giggle too but they usually forget about tattling and go on about their business. Lol!! Sometimes they even study mine and the pre k teachers feet really hard to see why they are “hurting”!! This works great for us and it has really decreased our tattling.

Lisa Ferron Collins

I have two different thing I try. First the tattle jar, rather than come to me, they have to write their tattles on a piece of paper and toss them in the jar. I tell them I read all their tattles at the end of the day when I have time.

Heather Buchman

My team mate has this issue and solved it with Mr. Big Ears. She has a picture of an elephant, a stuffed elephant, and a portable plastic elephant. The kids tell Mr. Big Ears everything they need to say to feel satisfied with their need for justice. If it is still bothering them, they write a note to Mr. Big Ears and at the end of the day, they get to read them aloud to the parties involved. Then the group involved has to decide if it is No Big Deal or something that needs an adult to figure out. She rarely has to intervene and it is teaching the kids to talk to one another in a very caring kind of way–they aren’t allowed to point fingers, call names, or say things that weren’t observed by others (no “I think so and so did…”). Has to be factual!

The other strategy is “tattle tickets”. Each child gets one ticket, if they choose to tattle they have to give me their ticket and that’s it for the entire day.

Laticia Scutella

I read a great article on bullying that recommends we change our approach with students on tattling. We want them to come forward when something is wrong! It is up to us to help them decide if the “issue” is something they can take care of themselves, or is something that needs an adult’s involvement. Telling them to ” only worry about themselves” can have some unintended consequences later in life!

Heidi Harper-Wamser

Don’t Squeal…..awesome book!

I use tattle tickets. But we start the day with 5 of the tickets hanging on the board. When someone tattles, I take 1 ticket down and make a huge deal that there are only 4 tickets left and so on and if the class uses all 5 tickets, the class must walk for 5 minutes of their recess. We talk about what is NOT a tattle (are you hurt, are you bleeding, is someone on danger) & telling on someone (Can you fix it yourself? Did you talk it out with that person?) You will find that the class begins to tell each other…don’t tattle, talk to your friend, etc. The peer pressure helps because they don’t want to walk at recess.

Lisa Marie Combs-Presley 

I ask my students the following questions “are they bleeding? Are they barfing? Are they being beat up?” if the answer is “no,” then I ask “have you talked to the person about it?” if the answer is “no,” I remind them they have to talk to the person BEFORE they talk to me. I also have the talk with the class about the difference between tattling and telling…tattling gets someone in trouble and usually starts with “Mrs. Presley…so and so is doing…” telling means there is something important that needs my attention such as a sick or hurt student, a stranger, etc. If they have talked to the person and still can’t solve the problem, then they should come talk to me. Students in my class are encouraged to solve small problems on their own, but to seek me out for big problems.

Cheri Dodson Smith

we also use the Second Step program which teaches kids how to work things out with one another, and WHEN it is appropriate to seek help. AND…we use Olweus anti bullying program…so lots of things in place to help kiddos know WHEN it is appropriate to get help from an adult!

Mary Hewitt

I always start with “Are you tattling . . ..” which is usually answered with “No” and I ask “is somebody hurt” ….. which is also usually answered with no. .. . then I remind them the tattle turtle can listen to all this – he has a hard shell – …. . which usually stops them, but we had a para in our building who just loves the tattling…….. and then comes to be with all this “issues” that are not even issues – often can’t remember what actually happened. They come running to this person when they get off the bus – I did sit them down and said they tell the bus driver – who I talk to daily and he handles it and he actually has started to tell them “stop if this is a tattle tell Mrs. Hewitt’s tattle turtle”. I hope it stops as the kids go to this person because they continue to thrive on listening to it.

Lynn Schrader Doiron

Read aloud Tattlin’ Madeline by Carole Cummings, PhD. This book explains the difference between “tattling” and “reporting”. Now when my kinergartners come to tell me something, I ask, “Is this tattling or reporting?” It causes them to think about their motivation, which has solved the issue in my classroom.

Tammy Lutz Griffin



I have put a “Tattle Telephone” in my room this year and it is wonderful!!! They have to tattle on the phone and I check my “messages” at the end of the day….they know if the message they are leaving is just to get someone in trouble the message is “erased” before I ever hear it!! This has worked wonders…..




Brenda Smith Browning




Just as Mary Hewitt asks, “Are you tattling?”, then “Are you trying to get someone in trouble?”. We encourage children to tell each other, “That bothers me and I want you to stop.” I use that line with the children often, during class meetings and it usually always nips it in the bud. I also encourage children to remind each other of our school wide target goals: Be Safe; Be Respectful; Be Responsible & Be Here, Ready to Learn. I don’t accept children coming to me, unless someone is actually hurt – blood; broken bones or barf. The three Bs!! Of course, we spend a lot of time throughout the year modeling correct behavior/responses – we call them “Cool” tools. When all else fails; introduce a tattling book and have the person who is doing the tattling draw and write what the tattle is. That usually stops many of my tattlers in their tracks. For those who do, we address the issue before recess each day. Most important thing to do: model and then follow through with expectations. Hope this helps.





Nadine Inglis Berger 





I usually say, “Are you or someone dying?” Are you or someone bleeding or injured?” The kicker is when the child answers “no” to both questions and then continues…Ususally they tell someone did something to someone else…well, it isn’t bothering THAT child or they would have told me! Tatttling drives me up a wall!!





Diane Trepiccione Dean 





After our school counselor read and discussed the story “Tattletongue”, I just say,”Let me see your tongue”, when someone comes up to me to tattle. They seem to get it. At other times me discuss what is important for them to tell me. It seems to be working with this class. Tattling drives me nuts too, but we have to remember that our young ones are trying to process so much that we have to be patient and keep reteaching the concept.




Carole Garton Peery





I use the phrase “we don’t tattle, we just report emergencies” and then we talk about the difference. It works really well in my class.

Another suggestion is to have them tattle to the Tattling Turtle. Some of the school supply stores sell these. The child can write their complaint or talk to the Turtle until they are blue in the face.




Pamelyn Lanford Washington 




I put a picture of the President on a shelf in my classroom and explain to the kids that they must tell him first. When/if they make it back to me, I always ask what the President said. Usually they will say “Nothing” and turn around and walk off…mostly they just want to feel like they are heard. And it’s really hilarious to watch kids standing in front of a picture, talking and pointing!





Anne Aycock Pulley 




I have the same kind of thing-but they tell a “tattle bear”. We talk about which things they need to tell a grown up vs. the bear. If I have a lot of writers I do a tattle book they can write in. I have also used a “class meeting” if we need to discuss things as a class.


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