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Quit Tattling on Children
June 3, 2022
Provide children with time, space, and safety to discover the world. Provide teachers with time, space, and safety to discover children discovering the world.
-Anji Play
"Sharing information about a child's day is crucial for relationship building with families, and for helping children transition between home and their early care and education setting…Too often this information exchange is treated as an occasion for teachers to vent, to shift responsibility for addressing issues, or simply to recite from a long-unexamined teacher script," says Heather Bernt-Santy in an article that shapes the newest Exchange Reflections, "Quit Tattling on Children."

Bernt-Santy offers several considerations to guide how and what we share with families. For example, she asks, "What is our own view of behavior and children? If we see developmentally typical behaviors such as hitting, not sharing, not napping, or leaving circle time as morally right or wrong, we will make poor choices about sharing with families. If we understand that behavior is about development, we are more likely to share appropriately and effectively with families."

This Exchange Reflections invites teams to consider Bernt-Santy’s ideas, with questions such as, "When a parent asks, 'Was my child good today,' what are some positive ways early educators could reframe that question?" Also included are suggested commitments to help participants follow up with practical actions that make a difference.

NEW Exchange Reflections

Exchange Reflections are designed to help a team of people meet in-person or live online to think deeply together about a topic using an article from Exchange magazine as a guide. Included are discussion questions to help guide reflections, as well as a Making Commitments idea sheet to help prompt ideas into action. For your convenience, Exchange Reflections are available in PDF format and you can download immediately on your desktop.


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Comments (3)

Displaying All 3 Comments
Linda Ranson Jacobs · June 03, 2022
DC4K - DivorceCare for Kids, dc4k.org and blog.dc4k.org
Navarre, FL, United States

THANK YOU, THANK YOU! Hear me shouting? I so much agree with this. In our therapeutic preschool and child care we did not tattle on the kids. First of all most little kids don't remember at the end of a day what happened hours ago.

We took in a lot of kids with challenging behaviors. It was our specialty. One time a dad of a three-year-old picked him up and I asked him to come to visit with me in my office. He came in with his hands across his chest. I was telling him some of the sweet things we had discovered about his son. He took his arms down and said, "Wait! You are not kicking him out?" To which I replied, "Why would I do that? We have too much invested in him ."

It seems this kid had been kicked out of every program. We actually had to change the parent's perception of their own kid.

One of the biggest things we did was to offer choices. Most kids with challenging behaviors are not given choices. Almost everything can turn into a choice, i.e. (outside) Do you want to run or hop? (Inside) Do you want to sit here or here?
Instead of telling a kid to hang up their jacket say, say, "Do you want to hang up your jacket or keep it on?I could do an entire workshop on choices. And there is so much more to helping these kids without tattling on them to their parents.

Linda Todd · June 03, 2022
Bonham, Texas, United States

The key here is knowing typical child development ages and stages and understanding that children develop certain skills at certain ages. That being said, children also develop those skills at their own rate. For example, a toddler does not typically develop the skill to share until they are around 4. We can tell them to share but if they are not developmentally ready yet, they will continue to show what most people believe is selfish behavior. It is always wise to provide multiple (identical) toys in a toddler room to avoid the need to share. A toddler has the mindset that everything belongs to them. Once they mature they will be more able to share.

Francis Wardle · June 03, 2022
University of Phoenix/ Red Rocks Community College
Denver, Colorado, United States

I did not have an issue with teacher comments when my children were in preschool, but when my son was in high school the negative comments got so bad that I finally told the teachers I would not return to parent-teacher conferences, because all they could give me were negatives, and I knew that my son had many positive attributes and school-related behaviors. I think the first t thing a teacher should do in a conference is to ask the parent how they feel their child is doing in the program. Then build on that. (By the way my son got a college degree and is a successful adult!)

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