Saturday, June 23, 2007

To Tell or Not To Tell

When I had my second child, naturally I employed my eldest daughter to help me keep an eye on the younger. She had no problem playing the role of "Tai Kar Che" (big sister). However, sometimes it gets out of hand. In a way, I've led her to become "Miss Bossy". She constantly breathes down her brother's neck, barking out what he should and should not do. Sometimes I have to remind her that I am the mother around here, and not her. Hahaha. Then there is the habit of reporting everything the brother does. Everyday I hear:

"Mommy, do you know what D did?"
"Mommy, D blah blah blah..."

It's like her brother has become her obsession.
Now, here is my dilemma. I would like to know if the little one is getting into trouble, but I don't want my girl growing up to be a tell-tale. And I don't want the little one to grow up despising the sister.
It's good for me to know some things but I don't need to know everything. So how do I tell her where to draw the line?

Here are some tips on tattling:
  • Don't do it because you want to put the other person down and make yourself look good instead (e.g. Mommy, D made a mess in the room. I already cleaned up my mess)
  • Don't tell me if the problem can be solved among yourselves (e.g. Mommy, D took all the pillows and won't give me one or Mommy, D spilled his drink)
  • Don't do it just so you can get the other person in trouble -- revenge purposes (e.g. Mommy, D ate your last chocolate)
  • Tell me only if he is going to get hurt or in danger (e.g. Mommy, D fell off his bicycle and is bleeding)
  • Tell me if something is damaged (e.g. Mommy, D sat on the baby gym and broke it)
I guess the underlying principle to know when to tell and when NOT to tell is: Am I helping or hurting? And have I tried to solve the problem?

Okay, don't think I'm a smarty pants and came up with this solution on my own. Just so happen I still have 1 copy of the Joy Berry book on Tattling. If you want it, you can get it at my bookshop whilst it's still available. Only RM10.

Well, it's definitely a lesson I will have to repeat often. My daughter's "reporting" habit is quite deeply ingrained. Hope I am able to teach her to make good judgement when it comes to making the decision on whether to tell or not to tell.


  1. so cute being tai ka jie, i guess it is very natural and u are lucky to have a good assistant for keeping an eye on didi. She will learn, just a matter of time :)

  2. Hi,

    I think i need to learn from now. Even before the baby brother is out, my 4 year old is already tattling about the maids, the grannys etc.... HELP...

    Mei Shi

  3. Hi,
    You've been tagged...
    Check it out !!

  4. Hi--my little one always wants to let us know what she and other s are doing. It seems less about tattling (our perception) then learning how to communicate with different words and ideas.She doesn't really have any conception about getting someone in trouble.

    Now, I certainly wouldn't trust our little ones with State Secrets, but for now it just seems like they're learning.

    Some interesting tips and thank you for sharing!

  5. Mummy to qiqi:
    Yes, she is a very good assistant. And only way to learn is to give lots of reminders.

    Mei Shi:
    Hehehe. Already a trained tai kah che. Good luck.

    That's great if it is just to communicate. But with my girl, I know she is looking for me to take some kind of action. Sometimes she tells me what her brother did, and then go on to tell me what to do about it too. Aiyoh! It is quite wearying. Anyway, I think they've got the idea now that they tell only to help and not for other reasons.

  6. Hi lian,

    I just register to the value bookshop, so many interesting book and had order some books too... one is this book which u introduce....and can keep for future use when my boy got his lil sister and brother.. hehehe.

    But i wondering how u teach your youngest son to read, my boy cannot seat long, turn here and there and like to bite the book every time i read to him..

  7. wow didn't know u have bookstore...will check it out!

  8. cairo also likes to report to us on what happened while we were at work.

    while i would like her to be less dramatic (she smacks her hands together real loud n shout "dahhh!" to demonstrate how her grandma beats her), i would not want cairo to stop confiding in me altogether.

    like i said, i need to work on her theatrics though hehe. thanks for sharing.


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