Table of Contents - July 2007
Feature Article: “Tips
Free Time: Go on a Nature Hike
Positive Discipline Methods: Effective Praise
“He did it.” “She
looked at me!” “He stole my iPod.”
For parents, it can be really tough to know how
to handle tattling. Do you ignore it? Do you let
them duke it out? Do you plug in your own iPod
and drown it out?
Here are a few options for you to try and see
what works for you.
Option #1: Define the difference between
tattling and telling.
It helps to be clear with children about when
it’s important to tell an adult about upsetting
behaviors. One way to do that is to teach
children the difference between “tattling” and
“telling” and then you can develop a family rule
Tattling is when you tell on
someone just to get the other person in trouble.
Telling is when you tell an adult
that you trust that someone has hurt your body,
or is threatening to hurt you or someone else.
You should also tell an adult when someone uses
words to hurt your feelings over and over.
So when Sue comes and tells you that Joe
breathed on her, you can ask “Is your body
hurt?” If not, that’s tattling and you don’t
listen to the rest of her story.
Option #2: Ignore it and let them work it
out between themselves. If one child
comes to talk to you, you can empathize, but
send the child back equipped to handle the
situation on their own by role playing what s/he
might say to the other sibling.
Option #3. NEVER take sides in a sibling
This advice comes from “Mom! Jason’s Breathing
on Me! The Solution to Sibling Bickering” by
Anthony E. Wolf. The pat answer you should
always use, according to Wolf is “The two of
you. Stop it now. ” You never listen to details
and you never take sides. You respond “I don’t
want to hear about it.” Wolf’s contention is
that siblings tattle to “win” and if you respond
and/or take sides that child will “win” and will
continue to tattle.
Option #4. Tell the bunny.
A first-grade teacher used this strategy. When a
student in her class would come to tell her
about an offense, she would ask if anyone was
hurt? If not, she would instruct the child to
“Go tell the bunny.” (A stuffed animal with big
ears to listen with that she kept in the
classroom.) The child would also be encouraged
to write down the offense on a piece of paper
that was put in the “telling box.” At the end of
the day, the teacher would read the offenses
privately and none of them warranted
intervention. This practice significantly
reduced the amount of “tattling” that the
teacher had to listen to each day. You
could try it at home.
Option #5- Problem-Solve.
If the situation warrants it, you may want to
take the time to teach your children a method
for solving problems. Let’s say that two kids
want to play computer at the same time and one
child comes to tell you about it. You can use
the STAR method for problem-solving.
Here’s how it works:
The S stands for STOP. Ask what is the problem?
The T stands for THINK. What are all the
possible solutions to this problem?
The A stands for Act. After evaluating the
options, pick the best choice an try it.
The R stands for REVIEW. Did I make a good
choice? How did it work?
This is how it works. Let’s say
that you have two children and they’re fighting
over the computer.
1) First, you ask them, "What’s
the problem?" Then you state the problem in
neutral terms, not taking sides with either
child. “You both want to play with the computer
right now.” Write the problem down.
2) Two, you ask the children to
think of all the possible solutions. Here are
Set a timer and
each kid gets the computer for 20 minutes.
Make a chart
with times that each child can use the
computer. Rotate who goes first each day.
No one gets to
play with the computer.
Find a game
that both kids can play together on the
Go to the
library where there are numerous computers
It’s very important
not to evaluate the choices yet. Use the adage
that every idea is a good idea. Don’t criticize.
Just write them down.
3) Evaluate the options. Have the
kids pick the best choice. (And if they can’t
agree, then you make the decision this time.)
4) Later, ask them “Was it a good
If you use the STAR method often enough with
your children, they'll eventually be able to
use this process on their own. And
problem-solving is an excellent skill for your
kids to have.
Positive Discipline Options
Praise is one of the most effective discipline tools
that you possess. The theory goes that one of the
most powerful motivators for a child is a parent’s
positive attention and recognition. Of course, the
trick is that you have to catch them being good, or
catch them even taking baby steps in the direction
of being good!
For praise to be effective, there are several points
to keep in mind:
Move close to your
Look them in the
Be specific. You
put all of your toys in the toy box. Great job!
behavior, not the child. In other words, don’t
just say “Good girl!” Instead say, “You shared
your candy with your sister. That was so kind.”
after you see the behavior.
classes from the comfort of home! You'll join other
parents, via telephone, for parenting tips and a
lively discussion all while sitting in your favorite
armchair! There's no need to waste time driving to
classes when you participate
from home or your office in a 'teleclass.'
Classes will resume in the fall.
Overload? 3 Key Strategies for Improving Work Like
Balance” Wed., July 11, 11:30 a.m., Edina
Country Club, E-Women Network, 952-402-0353.
“Help with Transitions” Tues., July
17, 7 p.m., Crossroads Elementary School, St. Paul.
What does your family
do for fun that doesn’t cost a lot of money? Please
share your ideas.
Go on a Nature Hike.
Summer is a great time
to explore nature. Just have the kids bring a sack
along and you can make a nature hike a “treasure
hunt” where they can bring home “treasures” that
they may find on the ground. When you get home, you
can have the child make a nature poster with his/her
treasures as a way to remember the day. If you have
older children, you can invite them to bring a
journal along on the hike and sit down along the way
to write down impressions, critter citings and
feelings they have while among the treasures that
nature offers us. Toni
Toni Schutta, Publisher, Families First Coaching Newsletter
Toni Schutta is a Parent Coach with a Master's
Degree in Psychology and 13 years experience working
with children and families. She's also the mother of
two wonderful children, a Licensed Psychologist, a
certified graduate of the Mentor Coach Foundations
Program and a member of the International Coach
Families First Coaching
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that will help you be the best parent possible.
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