Nobody likes a snitch, but it can be difficult for children to understand the difference between being a tattle tale and reporting a dangerous situation to an adult. Snitchy Witch by Frank J. Sileo, Ph.D., explores the difference between tattling, or snitching, and telling or reporting. As young children develop their sense of right and wrong, they may struggle with tattling. This excerpt from Dr. Sileo’s “Note to Grown-Up Witches” provides useful strategies for parents to help their children learn the difference between snitching and telling, develop problem-solving skills, and develop empathy. To Tell or Not to Tell Snitching, or tattling, is telling on someone when the situation is safe and does not require an adult to be involved. Telling, or reporting, is telling an adult when someone or something is being hurt or is in danger, or when someone is deliberately being destructive or hurtful. Children tattle for many different reasons including seeking attention, jealousy or wanting to get someone in trouble, to show they know the rules, and others. They may snitch because they haven’t yet developed the ability to think abstractly, so they interpret rules very rigidly. Young children also may have not yet developed effective interpersonal problem solving skills, leading them to involve adults unnecessarily. Of course, there are times when children should always tell an adult that something is going on. Let your child know they can always ask you if they are unsure about a situation. Help your child learn to recognize the difference between dangerous situations, like bullying or someone or getting hurt, and frustrating or upsetting situations, like people being rude or selfish, by providing concrete examples. Wanda was glad she made the switch from being a snitch! If Your Child Snitches Teaching your child the difference between snitching and telling is an important starting point, but remember that children may snitch for a lot of different reasons. Teach Problem-Solving Skills Young children are learning the important skills needed to deal with conflict and problems. Stepping in to solve problems too quickly will teach your child that the only way to solve a problem is to go to an adult for help. Instead, teach your child to work through conflicts with others. For example, suggest they take a few deep breaths and think about a way to handle the situation on their own before tattling. Give them tools—like using words (“I don’t like it when you don’t share with me”) or walking away to play with someone or something else in a difficult situation. Avoid Rewarding Snitching Behavior Sometimes a child tattles because she is seeking attention, feels jealous, or wants to get another child in trouble. Resist jumping right in and to scold the “perpetrator.” You’ll be giving the “snitcher” a false sense of importance, and likely encourage more snitching. If safety is not an issue, avoid punishing the other child, so that you avoid giving positive attention to the snitcher. Show and Teach Empathy Children may snitch because the wantRead More
About Frank Sileo, PhD
Frank J. Sileo, PhD, is a New Jersey licensed psychologist and the founder and executive director of the Center for Psychological Enhancement in Ridgewood, New Jersey. He received his doctorate from Fordham University in New York City.
In his practice, Dr. Sileo works with children, adolescents, adults, and families. Since 2010, he has been consistently recognized as one of New Jersey’s top kids’ doctors.
He has authored several children’s books including: A World of Pausabilities: An Exercise in Mindfulness, Did You Hear?: A Story About Gossip, Bug Bites and Campfires: A Story for Kids About Homesickness, and Sally Sore Loser: A Story About Winning and Losing, which is the Gold Medal recipient of the prestigious Mom’s Choice Award.
We are all different shapes, sizes, and colors, each of us special in our own way. Blossom and Bud by Frank J. Sileo, PhD was written to help children respect, accept and appreciate how their own and others’ bodies are beautiful and different in their own ways. It was also written to foster discussion in a safe and comfortable environment with the caregivers in their lives. Understanding individual differences and body diversity may help children build self-esteem, feel kindness toward themselves and others, practice healthy eating, have more realistic expectations of their appearance, and possess a healthy body image. In his Note to Adult Gardeners in Blossom and Bud, Dr. Sileo provides information and suggestions about nurturing a positive body image in children. Here’s an excerpt with tips for fostering a healthy body image. Fostering a Healthy Body Image Examine your own attitudes -- Consider your own beliefs, attitudes, statements, and behaviors around weight, physical characteristics, food, exercise, and health. If we make statements like, “I hate my thighs,” “I need to lose weight before my birthday,” or “I hate my nose,” we convey that we are critical of our appearance, that a healthy body must be perfect, and certain sizes and shapes are unacceptable. Words are important, but back them up with positive behavior. Constant dieting, excessive workouts, or adjusting pictures for social media posts send negative messages about body image to your children. Focus on your child’s inner qualities -- Focus less on appearance and more on your child’s abilities, gifts, and skills. Have discussions about what it means to be a good person without focusing on appearance. Praise your child for inner qualities that make them special. Exercise for enjoyment -- Engage in physical activities without focusing on losing weight. Place your emphasis on what a body can do instead of what a body looks like or cannot do. Talk about healthy food choices -- Take your child shopping and talk about healthy food choices. Model making healthy food choices. Teach your child that having an occasional treat is fine. These foods can be enjoyed in small amounts and in moderation. Educate children about the media --Watch television and movies with your child, and look for advertisements together. Discuss how the media sells products and sometimes portray certain bodies as “ideal.” Explain how the media sometimes will touch up photos or use other tech to change people’s appearance. Be mindful of bullying -- Children may get teased or bullied about their body or their appearance, but may not say anything about it. If you discover your child is being bullied, talk with them about it. Listen to what they have to say and watch for changes in their behavior, like refusing to participate in activities. Bullying rarely goes away on its own. It may require you to reach out to other adults to make a plan of action. Teach how bodies grow -- Communicate that everyone grows and changes at different times. Encourage your child notRead More
We are all different shapes, sizes, and colors, each of us special in our own way. Blossom and Bud by Frank J. Sileo, PhD was written to help children respect, accept and appreciate how their own and others’ bodies are beautiful and different in their own ways. It was also written to foster discussion in a safe and comfortable environment with the caregivers in their lives. Understanding individual differences and body diversity may help children build self-esteem, feel kindness toward themselves and others, practice healthy eating, have more realistic expectations of their appearance, and possess a healthy body image. In his Note to Adult Gardeners in Blossom and Bud, Dr. Sileo provides suggestions about nurturing a positive body image in children. Here’s an excerpt explaining body image and when to seek professional help. We’ll post a second excerpt with tips for fostering a healthy body image. What Is Body Image? Body image is how a person feels about and views their body, which contributes to their own self-image. Children can develop a positive or negative perception of their body. A child with a positive body image feels comfortable about their body. As a result, they display more confidence, take better care of their body, and have higher self-esteem. They tend to have more energy and engage in physical activities. A child with a negative body image tends to feel less satisfied with their body and may feel more anxious, self-conscious, and isolated from others. They may be more preoccupied with calories, weight, or food intake; unfairly compare themselves with others; have lower self-esteem; and engage in disordered eating. The way children see themselves and others may be based on standards set forth by others in their lives. It is difficult to ignore the images of the “ideal” body conveyed to our children by many forms of media. Peers can also be powerful influences on children’s perceptions of self. Parents and other adults in their lives may also be sending messages directly or indirectly about how children’s bodies should look and how they should feel about their bodies. There is a tendency in our culture to favor bodies that are thin, muscular, or “perfect.” Of course, a “perfect” body does not exist, and focusing on perfection can lead to frustration, disappointment, and other mental health issues. As parents and caregivers, we want to help encourage children to develop healthy mindsets and realistic expectations about their bodies, and to learn how to take care of their bodies through eating healthy and getting regular exercise. When Body Image Becomes a Growing Problem Being concerned about body image and at times being self-conscious about one’s appearance is a typical part of growing up. However, if you should notice your child becoming depressed being bullied struggling with their self-esteem skipping meals engaging in severe dieting withdrawing from others making repeated, negative statements about themselves like “I hate my body,” or “I’m ugly,” or engaging in self-harm behavior it is best to seek consultation withRead More