Helping Mommy....or whistle-blower?

One of my dear "young Mom -friends" asked me for some advice on the tattling issue.  Although I am far from a parenting expert, just by virtue of having walked this path a few steps sooner than my friend, I did have some stuff to share.  Some other folks asked me to repost it so I am getting it out via this blog instead of my timeline.  I'd love to hear your input, too.  What are some ways you have handled the tattle game?

Here's pretty much what I said....

Tattling.  That's a tough one.  I want to encourage my children to support one another, not to turn each other in.  And yet I could use the help, especially when they were little, of another set of eyes, to avoid frequent flier miles in the ER!!  How do we foster an environment of helping one another stay safe and yet not rat each other out in the hopes of earning holy points with Mom?

So, my MO was to never reward the tattler.  In other words, I might re-direct the tattle-ee but I did not punish him/her because I didn't want the tattler to have the pleasure of the sibling earning parental disapproval.  Even if the kid being tattled on was wrong.  I just wanted to send the message to the tattler that it wasn't worth it.  And my experience has been that the older ones love to play holy spirit - you know, convict the world of sin and unrighteousness?? So I didn't play into it. 

Helping keep one another safe was a different story and that should be encouraged.  We are our brother's keeper :)  And we have to pray to be able to discern the difference.  Honestly, it's usually pretty obvious.  We praise a heart that wants to protect and help....we don't reward a heart that wants to get the other in trouble.  Send that message over and over.....might even be necessary to discipline the tattler.  But what a reminder to praise in public...and discipline in private.  And if I could do it over again, I would redirect more....and discipline less. (Sorry, Katie, Mary, Chip and Betsy!)

I tried to encourage sibling comradeship --- even if it meant they were ganging up on me!  Seriously!  I would rather they be on the same side than to try to jump on my side by abandoning their brother/sister!!! (I figure they have to pick out my nursing home together so I'd just as soon they learn how to get along before then) And to be mindful that jealousy is often the root of tattling.  The cure for jealousy is to be secure in the confidence that we are loved.  (also, it helps to loosen the grip of jealousy on our hearts if we celebrate the other person.  That may be a bit hard to do when the kids are so little....but a reminder that is helpful for us adults.  oh, not that any of us ever struggle with jealousy - duh!)

I talked about Abraham and Lot and how Abraham was unselfish, letting Lot choose the best land.  And God rewarded Abraham for putting others the long run.  We can remind our children that God is pleased when we put others first and He will see to it that we are rewarded, too. (Just be sure to simultaneously teach/encourage delayed gratification....) And reminding myself that my part is to be patient and loving and consistent.  Probably that is what God is after in the first place.....changing me!

And when the offense of tattling takes place, PRAY with the offender.  PRAY that brothers (sisters) would dwell together in unity (Psalm 133:1) .  PRAY that we Moms would have no greater joy than to see our children walking together in truth....together (3 John 1:4).

What are some things you do/have done to nip tattling in the bud?