Is the Tattle Phone a Good Idea?

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I have been hearing a lot about this tattle phone. I DO hear a lot of tattling all day – do you think this phone is a good idea?

This issue has crossed my path a few times recently as well, and it really got me thinking. On the surface it seems great. It helps teachers and parents – or it seems to – and the kids like it – at first. I mean… kids, a weird old timey phone, talking about themselves… what’s not to like?

But there is a powerful statement at the end of a podcast about this topic on This American Life. In the end, a child said it did not fix his problem – that the phone did not help him, even though the grownup said it would.

The child got it out. They told the tale. They told the phone what happened. But nooo – it did NOT fix the problem. It did not stop his brother from pinching him.

Wow. Yikes. Let that hang there for a moment. A child was being pinched and felt that they had to go tell a fake phone about this, and that would be a solution. But, of course it wasn’t. The pinches continued.

Look, it CAN be frustrating to hear all of the news of the day, and what everyone may or may not be doing, and on and on. But it’s actually our job to hear those stories. To hear them and help kids find solutions.

We must mentor problem solving…

…teach kids how to express themselves, give them the words to use when someone is doing something that they don’t like.

I have asked older kids, 3.5 and up, if they have tried to work it out themselves before coming to me. Have they used their words and told the offender what’s up? If not, I encourage them to do so, to tell the other person what they told me, to tell them what they want and need.

And if that does not work, then I want them coming to me. If I were to be stuck, I would hope that my support would be there for me and help me out when in need.

Oh, and when we leave kids to their own devices, they might solve the problem in ways that they want to – and often that’s not the ways we would want them to. They may hit or push or grab, and now they’re in trouble – but what were they supposed to do? They tried the “right” way, they tried coming to an adult – and nothing on both counts – so they did what they needed to.

It’s our job to mentor even when it’s tough, even when we have had enough.

OK, sometimes kids do come to you A LOT, and you can do something about it. Let’s say a child has come to me 3 times from a pick-up soccer game at the park. That kinda makes me think that it might be my child who might be causing the problem – or seeing issues that might not actually be there. I mean, that sounds tough – but if everyone else is doing fine, and my kid is like, “They won’t give me the ball.” “They didn’t let me score.” “They kicked the ball to someone else”, I might think it’s them and not alllll of the other kids.

Now, I will watch for a moment to be sure that the kids are not ganging up on my child, but usually it’s not the case. I will tell my child that it’s time to go home, or perhaps they should find something else to do since soccer seems so UN-fun.

I have also had small friends who like to report ALL of the news, and I will ask them if anyone is hurting or bothering them. Is anyone in danger or upset? In the end, I would still have them err on the side of telling me. Again, it’s my job.

No one said that parenting, teaching, nannying or participating in mentoring children would be easy. It’s not, but I would rather hear too much than miss out on something important.


Brandi Davis, ACC, is a professional Parenting Coach, Parent Educator, and Author of O.K. I’m A Parent Now What? She can also be found on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and be sure to catch her parenting podcasts on iTunes. The goal of Brandi’s practice is to bring respect, calm communication, teamwork, and FUN into the home or classroom. To discover all that Child and Family Coaching can bring to your family stop by www.childandfamilycoaching.com.

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