At the end of the day, the reason why it’s so important to deal with tattling is that it affects the relationships between siblings. Take the time to remind your children that they will more than likely have a longer relationship with one another than anyone else they know. They will be friends long before they meet their marriage partners and usually long after their parents are gone. Therefore, encourage them to nurture their friendship and to seek every opportunity to develop a bond of closeness by always considering the feelings of the other.
You might ask, “Honey, how do you think your brother feels when you tattle? Will tattling bring you closer to your brother or tear you apart? How do you think it makes him feel when you encourage your brother rather than tattling?” Pointing his thoughts in this direction helps encourage him to be others-focused, rather than self-focused, which is, ultimately, the way to become more like Christ.
There were times I handled tattling well, and times I handled it not so well, and I clearly recall the positive or negative effects my response has on my children’s relationship. When I merely accepted the tattling at face value and turned my attention to disciplining the child being told on, the one who was disciplined showed resentment toward the one who told, which affected their relationship in a negative way. However, when I questioned the motive of the one tattling, explained the damaging effects it has on their relationship, and guided her to go back and encourage her sibling with love and concern, I witnessed it unify their bond in powerful ways.
Explaining how tale-bearing divides friends and how we are encouraged as children of God to “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ forgave [us]” (Ephesians 4:32) helps children understand the specific ways God has called them to treat each other. Also, according to Proverbs 19:11, we are blessed when we overlook someone’s offensive behavior toward us: “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.” Directing our children’s attention to God’s will for their friendship helps them to see past one another’s wrongdoings and develop an attitude of unity in their relationship.