The Narc

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Categories Behavior, PreschoolersTags , ,

I’ve got one in my pair, do you?


My daughter, Rebecca, has always been more of the goody-two-shoes than her brother.  Which is not to say that she isn’t clever and sneaky and a challenge in her own way, of course. But for the most part, she’s a rule-follower.  In fact, I would go so far as to say she loves rules.  In part, she loves following rules simply because she likes to be able to point out how well-behaved she is.  But just as much, she loves enforcing the rules on others.  In particular, her brother.

If the two of them are playing together in the other room, you will frequently hear her bossing him around, telling him exactly what to do and how to do it.  And boy, if he gets out of line…

“DAN! Stop jumping!”




On the one hand, I won’t lie, it’s kind of handy to have a tattle-tale in the bunch.  Oh sure, she sometimes gets caught red-handed at something nefarious, too.  But the truth is that her brother is more likely to attempt something dangerous, or do whatever it is I’ve told him not to do 100 times before. So I don’t really mind having her be an extra pair of eyes to make sure nothing valuable gets dropped into the floor vents.

On the other hand, the tattling is getting a little annoying.  Sometimes, when she whines “Mom, Daniel just ….,” I want to shout back, “work it out!”  And there are times when I doubt the complete truth of what she says.  Believe me, she will not hesitate to throw him under the bus at the slightest provocation. While he may have done whatever it is she has accused him of, it’s quite possible she had a hand in the wrongdoing as well. An interesting sibling dynamic at work, to be sure.

And yet, I’m not sure I want to squash the tattling. Yes, it can be annoying. But do I really want to have her STOP telling me when something is going wrong, even if right now it’s awfully minor? What about the day when it’s something big, and I absolutely DO want her to say something?

How do you handle tattling in your house?

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7 thoughts on “The Narc”

  1. Both of mine tattle when their sister does something to them. “Mom she hit (or whatever) me.” My first response is almost always, “what did you do to make her want to hit you in the first place.” Once they’ve answered that question, we all sit down to discuss how the scene should have gone. I must also admit to actually having yelled back, “work it out.” Sometimes that does work.
    Rhonda recently posted Practicing her Royal waveMy Profile

  2. That’s a tough one. Years ago, tattling was one of the reasons why we chose to separate our boys in school. It’s soooooo tempting to listen to their tattles because as you said, it’s an extra pair of eyes, but it can ruin the trust between the pair or at the very least, incite a bit of rivalry. I try very hard to ignore the tattling. When I do, the tattling seems to stop.
    Christina Tinglof recently posted You Have to Eat a Lot of Yams to Conceive TwinsMy Profile

  3. A rule I’ve heard a lot is “dangerous or destructive.” If the offender is hurting himself or others (physically) or destroying something, please tattle. If he hurt your feelings or took your toy or anything else, work it out. This might work better with older kids, but it might be good to get Becca, the rule follower, to understand this rule about tattling earlier rather than later.

  4. My kids like telling on the cat. But for very cat-like behavior, like using the scratching post and licking unmentionables. They just turned 2, so tattling on each other I’m sure will follow…
    stephanie recently posted Yesh- babyMy Profile

  5. I agree that as long as they’re not hurting each other, yelling “work it out” is perfectly acceptable! (Whether or not it actually works is another thing….)

    We’re having the same issue in our house with our “beta” twin, Clio, whose sister is forever pushing her around. I kind of want Clio to man up and deal with her sister on her own. On the other hand, when there’s hitting involved, I want to know….

    So, basically. I have no idea. :-)

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