Dear Tulum,

My 4 1/2 year old daughter is constantly telling on everyone! I want to encourage her to tell me things I need to know but am going crazy with the constant stream of reports.

— What can I do?

Dear What,

I can relate, I find myself in the same predicament time and time again both with children AND with adults! The proper response from you will easily change the focus to one of empowerment.

The first thing is to take your daughter aside in a neutral moment and have a chat about your concerns. Tell her that you really appreciate how hard she has been working to keep you informed. We all want to be acknowledged. Let her know that there are things you want and need to know. Come up with a few examples. Most of these should center around safety issues. Go on to say that there are other times when you would like her to try and resolve some of the incidents. After all she is almost 5 years old now and knows what to do! Brain storm together on how she might handle various situations. Do some role play too, she’ll love the time and attention. And finally let her know that you will use various phrases to help her decide if an incident truly is “news worthy” or if she could intervene herself:

News Worthy:

“Oh My gosh! No wonder you came to tell me! What do you think WE should do?”

“You seem to have serious concerns, let’s go take care of this together.”


“Hmmm, I’m not sure what this situation calls for. Would you like to handle this yourself?”

“Are you asking for my help?”

“What would you like me to do?”

Clearly something she can handle:

“What are you going to do?”

“I can’t wait to hear how you solve this dilemma!”

Bottom Line: Everyone one wants to be heard. Listen, acknowledge and empower her to make the next move.