When I was a teacher, I was accustomed to telling my students no. No talking, no running, no fighting. There was also a lot of tattling in my class (and we’ll get back to that in a moment). There was a little boy named Mark, and one day, this tiny boy no more than 6 or 7 said something that permanently altered the course of my teaching style, my parenting approach, and my life. He said, I feel like she’s always mad at us! And boy oh boy, I felt horrible!

I had to level with the fact that I was not making my students, my precious stewardship, feel welcome in class. (And by the way, make this your mantra: kids are kids are kids are kids. There’s nothing wrong with your children, and there’s nothing wrong with you.) They could’ve been reading on a ninth-grade level, but I realized that if they were to succeed in life, they needed to feel good in my classroom. All academic successes are secondary to raising children who know how to be good and kind.

I made it my goal to change my mindset and my attitudes and look as hard as I could for good things the children were doing. As I praised them for good effort and kind behavior, they were more kind to each other, and I felt better too!

Now, back to tattling. Humans — and children in particular — are sensitive to perceived inequities. When they don’t think it’s fair that another person gets to misbehave or not be on task, they’ll call them out for it. Tattling is a natural occurrence, but I took that energy and helped my students channel it into more wholesome outputs with the Tattlebox, a means for kids to affirm and give love to their peers for praiseworthy actions. I have a suspicion this could help many of you in your homes!

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