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A teacher in New York was teaching her class about bullying and them the following exercise to perform. She had the children take a piece of paper and told them to crumple it up, stomp on it and really mess it up but do not rip it. Then she had them unfold the paper smooth it out and look at how scarred and dirty it was. She then told them to tell it they’re sorry. Now even though they said they were sorry and tried to fix the paper, she pointed out all the scars left behind. And that those scars will never go away no matter how hard they tried to fix it. This is what happens when a child bullies another child, they may say they’re sorry but the scars are there forever. The look on the faces of the children in the classroom told her the message hit home.
I'm Teaching My Son To Be A Tattletale
Our culture doesn’t approve of tattletales, which I suspect is why we’re so quick to demonize whistleblowers. But I’m bucking that trend in my house and I suggest you do the same.
I have a three year old boy and I’m teaching him to be a tattletale.
A few months ago, he came home and complained to me that some of the “big boys” at daycare were running up and “roaring” in his face on the playground. He talked about it a lot; it upset him and made him anxious rather than excited about his afternoons on the playground. Not long after that, he started roaring at his baby sister sometimes. It took me several days, but I connected the two things. Then I told him to tell a teacher the next time the big kids roared at him and I explained to him that he shouldn’t roar at his sister because then he was acting like those big kids and his sister was like him, a little kid who was upset and anxious. We talked about it a few times a day for a few days because he would bring up the topic of the “big kids” whenever we went to daycare, left daycare, or talked about daycare.
I don’t know if he ever told a teacher about their behavior, but I hope he did. I do know that he stopped roaring at his sister almost immediately.
Why did I encourage him to tell a teacher? Because the big kids were bullying him and other littler kids like him … and then he was learning their bullying behavior and bringing it home. He had the power not to be a bully himself and he made the right choice once he recognized that his sister was in the same position he was in at daycare. But he didn’t have the power to stop the big kids from bullying the littler kids on the playground and he didn’t even have the language to confront them; what he could do was to make their bullying behavior known to someone with more power.
You might think that this is a small example and that the stakes are very low. I agree. But trust me when I say it didn’t seem small to someone as small as him. And it’s obviously a much bigger issue than a friend who isn’t sharing or who spilled some milk on the floor at snacktime; those are times when I’m teaching my son not to be a tattletale. He has to learn to pick and choose the times when the problem really isn’t a big deal, like someone spilling a little milk, when he can resolve a problem with his words, like someone not sharing with him, and when the issue is important enough to appeal to someone else.
I want my son to be able to make these decisions for himself when he gets older, to know how to handle the various big and small problems that come his way. And I want him to have learned that sometimes we need to take bad behavior to an authority figure or make it public in order to make it stop.
I want him to know that there’s nothing wrong with standing up to bullies if you can or appealing to others for help if you’re not strong enough. I never want him to join in with the big kids to pick on the little kids and I never want him to think that keeping quiet in the face of nasty behavior is acceptable.
It’s well past time that we stop demonizing people who tell the truth about abusive, illegal, or unethical behavior. So I’m teaching my son to be a tattletale and I suggest you do the same.
I’m sitting in an empty classroom trying to do inventory, but the silence is deafening. The eighteen desks pushed against the wall and stacked on top of each other makes the room seem enormous in comparison to the normal eighteen 8th grade bodies rushing in here every morning. The brand new carpet that was installed before this school year is already stained and tattered with funny (and not so funny) memories.
It’s hard to believe that a year ago at this time not only was I leaving a school I loooove, but I was leaving a job for no job. I didn’t know where I would live or how I would pay the bills, and amazingly (with billions of prayers) it all worked out. Let me state that again… IT ALL WORKED OUT.
Here’s the proof:
- Got a job teaching 8th grade before the moving truck was even packed.
- Moving for love was worth it because he proposed!
- Did I mention we’re home owners?
- I had an amaaaaazing group of students this year! So amazing my classroom management plan gathered dust while the students did what was asked of them.
- Catalina Island and Six Flags for five days with awesome students!
- Clear Credential program is nearly complete. Hooray!
- I’M GETTING MARRIED IN LESS THAN 3 WEEKS!!!
It’s weird to think so much has happened in one year. And to say this year was only filled with great memories would be a complete lie. New adventures mean new adjustments to a life that’s comfortable. Tears have become a normal occurrence for me, and I haven’t felt as defeated in my teaching abilities as I did this school year. However, there has been growth…. a lot of growth. Professionally and personally.
Here in this deserted classroom, with the hum of the fluorescent lights, it’s all hitting me…. If this year turned out so great, I can’t wait to find out what the following years have in store for me.