My kids are fond of tattling, particularly the older one. She would often slide up to me, then in a whispering voice say "Mummy, baby didn't put soap when he washed his hands" or "Mummy, baby did this or baby didn't do that."
Baby does occassionaly do it too "Mummy, cheh cheh did this......" It is as if they derive a certain satisfaction to see the other being scolded or punished by mummy or daddy.
I have often told them that it isn't nice to do that. (The girl used to do it at kindy too.) How would you feel if your friend told teacher that you had been naughty and teacher scolded you? Don't do it unless your friend is doing something dangerous like playing with electricity, sharp objects etc.
Tattling happens frequently in school too. Recently, my girl told me that her friend had accused her of something and shouted loudly to inform the teacher to which the teacher replied "I don't want to hear of this small small things. Tell me only if its something dangerous." but as a punishment, the teacher asked her to stand up in class anyway.
It would seem that none of us knows how to handle tattling. We all do the double message thingy. We tell the tale bearer that it is wrong to tattle, and yet we punish the other kid anyway. Worse still, sometimes I say "Thank you for telling me." and at other times I say "Don't tell me unless its dangerous." How confusing it is for a child! But how equally confusing tattling is to a parent or teacher.
I read this article: "Why Kids Tattle and What To Do About It" It has some interesting strategies which I think I will try out today. (Since tattling goes on in my house daily!) Here's another interesting article too. Its for tattling in school but I think I can relate to some of it at home too: To Tell or Not To Tell: The Dynamics of Tattling.
You can check out those articles if you have to deal with tattling at home. At the same time, why not share your own style of dealing with tattling? I sure would appreciate more tactics and ways to deal with tattling.