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How to Handle Tattling in the Classroom

Teaching is not without its frustrating moments. You spend a lot of time planning your lessons and gathering resources but you never plan what your initial reaction would be when you are faced with classroom disruptions. This is a teacher's nightmare! Tattling, complaining, pockets of chatter, blurt outs, talking back, conflicts!...... 

Many times I find myself almost helpless when it comes to dealing with unwanted classroom behaviors. Every child needs to be handled in a particluar way, also every type of disruptive behavior calls for varying levels and form of intervention.So I now turn to the experts for a magic potion that would help me to be able to deal with disruptive behavior so that I won't be too reactive next time around.

Maryln Appelbaum has a solution to every type of disruptive behavior imaginable. From tattling to conflicts, chatter to power struggles. Here are a few ideas on how to deal with tattling that I find very helpful!

Tattling or Reporting?

Simply put, tattling is telling to get someone in trouble. On the other hand reporting is telling to get help for someone.Children need to understand the difference between them and we must also encourage more reporting rather than tattling. According to Appelbaum, we can use any of the following strategies to minimize this recurring problem in our classroom:

1. Remain Calm when you hear tattles.

2. Encourage them to use kind words about others.

3. Hear the tattle and simply say "Thanks!"

4. Use empathetic listening by identifying the feelings of the tattler.e.g.
Kenny: "Josie said a bad word."
Teacher: "Sounds like you're upset."
5. Make a tattle sandwich. If a child wants to tattle then he must first start with a compliment about the other person followed by the tattle. Then he will have to end with another compliment.

6. Have a tattle time as a special time in the day when all tattles are entertained. If they really want to give the tattle then it must be made in a tattle sandwich.

7. Have a tattle bucket. This would be a special bucket where students will place their name cards when they have a tattle. In this way the class would not be  disrupted and the students themselves can get back to work.

8. Tattle Ear. Place a large ear drawing in a corner of the room. When students want a listening ear for their tattle they tell it to the ear. I like this one:)

For a detailed link to Appelbaum's strategies click HERE


  1. This is a truly amazing post! I find these ideas are well put together. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Great ideas Nicole! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Great ideas. I created a "Tattle Book" and had requirements for using it. They had to use complete sentences and write in friendly letter form. I have several Tattle Books to read now and they are hilarious.


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