Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Dining Room Table Discussion: To tattle or not to tattle is the question

The hubbs and I are in a bit of conundrum.  Well, he's not.  He knows that he's right and thinks I'm being silly for for questioning.  I just want to make sure I'm teaching my child correctly.  She is at the age now that things we do or say can/will start to shape and affect her.  It's not "don't touch the stove because it's hot" anymore.

Let me back up a bit.  Several months ago we were watching a cartoon with Jesalyn.  She was young enough that she had no idea what was going on or what the people were saying, but it entertained her so we let her watch it (I know, I know.....)  The days theme was on tattle telling.  As funny as it seems now, I can't remember if it swayed towards or against it.  I can't remember because afterwards, we started talking about it.  Jarrod was 100% tattle.  His thoughts were if someone is doing something to you, at a young age you should definitely tell the teacher.  I agreed to a point. As toddlers, you don't have the communication skills to sit down Dr. Phil style and talk to the other person about how what they are doing is hurting your feelings.  But at the same time, if you get in the habit of tattle-telling when your younger you become that junior high kid that no one likes. On the flip side, it's important that the child is comfortable to tell an adult when something serious is wrong. We agreed to disagree (well, sort of. I still hadn't made up my mind) and went on with our business.

Fast forward to yesterday.  I go to pick Jesalyn up at day care.  The teacher tells me that my daughter has two reports for that day.  They get a report anytime something happens (i.e. falls and bumps her head, got hit in the head with a toy....)  Today's reports were because she bit two different kids.  Two!  A few months back, we got a report that she bit someone but the teacher played it off.   "I can't really tell her 'go Jesalyn' but she was kind of sticking up for herself.  She was minding her own business playing with a blanket and another kid came up and grabbed it from her hand.  Jesalyn said no, and when the child didn't let go she bit her."  Other than that, we hadn't had any problems.  But now, two kids in one day.  On the drive home I talked to her about how it wasn't nice to bite.  That it hurts people when you bite them and she didn't want to hurt any of her friends at school.  That night, I was changing her diaper, again reinforcing that she should not bite people.  "Just because someone takes something from you, that doesn't mean you should bite them...." and then I was stuck, I just set the sentence up so that it required the alternate action to biting.  I saw her looking at me listening as if saying "then what should I do mommy?"  From the other room Jarrod says "tell her to tell the teacher."  I had nothing else, so that's exactly what I did.
And so here we are at our conundrum.  Part of me wants to say just share your things.  If someone takes it from you, just let them have it and play with something else.  A bigger part of me says "no way!" if you have it, and someone just grabs it from you, stand up for yourself.  The issue is at age 2, standing up for yourself translates to "bite."
Am I making this too complicated.  Mommys?  Teachers? Nannies?  I need some input here....


Malinda Heuring said...

As a parent of a girl, I have always taught my daughter to be a good friend. And just because someone is not a good friend to you (steals blanket) doesn't mean you don't have to be a good friend to them. It has really helped as she has gotten older and the "girl drama" has developed. She may not get all A's on her math, but she does always get very high marks on being a good friend. Teachers and parents have gone out of their way to tell me how kind and compassionate she is.

So my advice is teach your child to be a good kid, give up that blanket if need be, but talk to them every night about the good and the bad that went on during the day. Talk about the reasons that other kid might have had to take the blanket (sad, having a bad day, etc.) and talk about all the other toys that your child could choose to play with if that blanket is taken. Talk about when it is appropriate to tell the teacher. In the end that open communcation will be invaluable. Meredith is now 9 and our favorite time of the day is when I am tucking her in at night and we "talk".

Jamie said...

Great advice Malinda coming from a wonderful mommy like yourself! I will have to use this, especially as she gets older.