School can be tough sometimes. There are many rules to follow. If you do your best to follow all the rules, it can be difficult to see others break the rules…especially if they don’t get caught and aren’t punished.

Have you ever felt tempted to tell on someone when they break a rule? If you’ve ever done that, you may have been called a tattletale by the person you told on.

Although it’s a natural reaction for many children to want to tell on someone when they do something wrong, tattling is usually frowned upon by most kids, parents and teachers. When you tattle, you’re inserting yourself into a situation that most likely doesn’t and shouldn’t involve you.

For example, if a classmate is talking when he’s not supposed to, that’s an issue for the teacher to handle. Since you’re not the teacher, it’s not your responsibility to discipline your classmate.

If your classmate’s talking is distracting to you, you can try instead to handle the issue yourself. Simply asking your classmate to stop talking may be all you need to do.

Sometimes, though, you may need to get others involved. If someone’s health or safety is at issue, you need to tell someone who can help immediately. In these cases, you’re not tattling. You’re simply reporting a serious incident that needs to be brought to the attention of an adult.

For example, if your younger brother is playing with matches, that would be a potentially-dangerous situation that your parents need to know about. Likewise, if a friend at school is being bullied, you should report the incident to a teacher or school official.

Tattling is a natural behavior that most kids engage in starting very early in their lives. Experts believe tattling may stem from the conflict that occurs when kids begin to develop social skills, yet often encounter problems they can’t handle on their own.

Your parents and teachers can help you learn the difference between tattling and proper reporting. Learning to handle appropriate problems on your own will help you develop social skills that will serve you well in the future. Remember: tattling is telling on someone to get them into trouble. Helpful reporting, on the other hand, is telling about something to help someone get out of trouble.

54 Join the Discussion

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    • Hey there, Jesenya! We think it’s difficult to determine when and when not to tattle, but we have to listen to our hearts and our heads. Like we learned in the Wonder video, tattling can get someone in trouble, while telling can keep someone safe. Thanks for sharing your comment! :)

      • Thanks for sharing your opinion, George! We don’t like to tattle on others, but it’s important to tell an adult, parent or teacher when we think someone could be harmed.

  1. Hi, I can’t believe I’m the first to comment! Anyway, I love Wonderopolis but this story wasn’t my favorite. I have 3 fav’s: 1. The McDonald’s chicken nugget one. 2. The one about what Jell-O is made out of. And finally, The one about glitter!

    • Hi there, Bailey! We are glad you are WONDERing with us today, even if this wasn’t your favorite Wonder! That’s okay, because we are happy to hear that you have other favorites! Thanks for sharing them with us! See you soon! :)

  2. Hi Wonderoplis I think sometimes it’s ok but sometimes its not, like it’s not the right time to be doing it or the person is doing nothing that’s why you wouldn’t.

    • What a great point, lili13! It’s very important that we use our best judgement when it comes to telling or tattling. We are glad you’re WONDERing with us today– we sure learned a lot and we hope you did, too! :)

    • Bullying is a great example to use for telling an adult, teacher or parent. Great job, lili13! We are very proud of you! :)

  3. I agree my sister is a big tattle-teller and I told her to stop doing things like that because it could bring her to sometihng bad and now she stills does it but very little.

    • We think your sister is lucky to have you, yeniffer! We think it’s great that you shared your thoughts about tattling with your sister, she looks up to you! :)

  4. Hi. I think today’s wonder was soo cool and you’re right, you shouldn’t tell a teacher or a person if you are just trying to get someone in trouble. But if you are telling someone to make sure that they don’t get harmed or injured. Oh by the way it’s L…I…L…I NOT LILI.

    • We’re so glad you enjoyed our Wonder, Macey! Thanks for WONDERing with us. We are glad you shared your thoughts about our Wonder today, sometimes tattling isn’t the best option. However, telling someone something that will prevent another from being harmed is very important! Also, thanks for correcting us… we changed our response to LILI! :)

  5. I used to tattle wham I was younger but my brother told me that it was not a nice thing to do or someone will get you back and you will regret what you had done.

    • We’re glad that you and your brother have talked about tattling, Monique! We don’t like to tattle on others, but it’s important to tell an adult, parent or teacher when we think someone could be harmed. Thanks for sharing your comment, Monique! :)

  6. In my school I’m a good student and I dont like to tell on my classmate if they’re doing something wrong I just have a habit I don’t like to tell but it’s hard not to, what to do wonderopolis!!!!!!!??????

    • Thanks for sharing your comment, Kimberly! We are glad to hear that you and your classmates don’t tattle on one another, but we hope there’s nothing for you and your classmates to tattle about! It’s important to be respectful of one another, but if you feel that you or another person are in harm’s way, it’s important to tell an adult you trust. :)

    • Great question, Sierah! We think it’s very important to tell an adult you trust if you see or hear of something bad going on. It’s not tattling, it’s telling, and that can help prevent something bad from happening. We think you’re very brave, Wonder Friend! :)

  7. Hi Wonderopolis,
    My class enjoys visiting your website every morning during Morning Meeting.

    I really liked the video today – is that a series that we can subscribe to or watch on a regular basis? He seemed to present the material in a way the kids responded to.

    Please let me know!


    • Hi there, Mrs. Schlette! Thanks for sharing your comment with us today! We are so glad you enjoyed our tattling Wonder– it’s important to remember the different between tattle and telling. We can’t take credit for the Wonder video, but we are happy to provide more information (after confirming a few things with our Wonder Friends). If you don’t mind, we’ll send you an email with more information soon.

      Thanks for sharing our Wonder with your students! Have a marvelous Monday! :)

  8. I think tattling is okay because it tells that you are actually being mean to that person you are telling on and because you are giving that you are mean to your self and others.

    • We’re glad to know that you have been thinking about the difference between tattling and telling, Jason. We always want to tell an adult when something is going on that makes you feel uncomfortable or you think could hurt someone else. Thanks for WONDERing with us! :)

    • We understand that tattling can be frustrating, but it’s important that you make sure you’re telling an adult when something uncomfortable or wrong is happening, Danielle. :)

    • Great point, Catherine! You are correct, it depends on the situation. We learned that there is a difference between tattling and telling, and we should tell an adult when something is going on that makes us uncomfortable or feel bad. Thanks for WONDERing with us today! Great work! :)

  9. We learned that tattling is not appropriate because it is used to get people in trouble. We learned that there is a difference between tattling and telling. We learned that if somebody is in trouble to be hurt, then you should tell an adult, you shouldn’t just watch. We like the video because it told us it is NEVER okay to tattle.

    • HOORAY, we’re glad our Wonder Friends, Tigers1stGrade/K, have shared what they’ve learned from our Wonder! While it’s not always easy to tell, there is a difference between tattling and telling. We sure are glad that you have learned something new with us! :)

    • Snitching is not a great idea, we agree, Tooney! If you feel uncomfortable or worry that you or someone else could be hurt, it’s important to tell an adult, teacher or parent. That’s the difference between snitching and telling! Thanks for sharing your comment! :-)

    • We’re glad you have been WONDERing with us, too, Sraavya! Thanks for sharing your thoughts about tattling and telling– because there is a difference! :) We are glad that you know that telling a teacher, parent or adult you trust is important! :)

    • Thanks for letting us know how you feel about tattling, Autumn! We learned the difference between tattling and telling today, and we agree with you. Telling an adult you trust is important, but tattling to get someone in trouble is not the right thing to do. Thanks for WONDERing with us today! :)

  10. Dear Wonderopolis Team,
    I am here with Andy and Quincy from 3rd grade in Virginia. We are studying the Habitude of Curiousity and absolutely LOVE your site. It is making us WONDERful learners.

    Thank You,
    Angela Maiers
    Chief Learner and Question Asker

    • Good afternoon, Angela and our Wonder Friends Andy and Quincy! Thanks for visiting us today! We hope you’re doing great in Virginia (and staying warm, too)!

      It sounds like you’ve been learning some awesome things as you study the Habitude of Curiosity, it sounds like a great way to inspire Wonder! Thanks for sharing your comment and telling us about what you’re learning in 3rd grade. Keep up the SUPER work and we hope to Wonder with you soon!

      Thanks, Wonder Friends! :)

  11. Tattletailing is not very nice. However, if it is a bully and you are telling on the bully then it is not tattletailing.

    • That is a great point, Kassie. Bullying is something an adult should always know about! We are so glad that you shared your thoughts on tattling with us today, Wonder Friend! Have an AWESOME day! :)

    • That is a great question, olivia! How many teachers do you estimate are in our world? Also, think about other people, such as family members, that help you learn too. Would they count in your estimate? We are just WONDERing! :)

    • Thanks for sharing, Abbey H! There are definitely times that we must report something to an adult, parent, or teacher. Telling about an emergency is not tattling! Have a WONDERful day! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Is it ever okay to tattle?
  • Why is tattling frowned upon?
  • Do you know the difference between tattling and reporting?

Wonder Gallery

TattleVimeo Video

Try It Out

Do you know when to tattle and not to tattle? If you’re not sure, here are some questions to ask yourself. Your answers will let you know whether you’re tattling or being helpful!

  • Are you telling someone something to be harmful or helpful? Being helpful is simply reporting, while being harmful is tattling!
  • Are you trying to get someone in trouble? If the answer is yes, then you’re tattling.
  • Are you trying to help a teacher or a parent discipline someone else? If so, you’re tattling instead of being helpful.
  • Are you having trouble with a bully? If so, be sure to tell someone. Reporting bullying behavior is helpful!
  • Are you helping someone who is hurt? If so, you’re not tattling. You’re definitely being helpful!

Still Wondering

In National Geographic Xpeditions’ Understanding Disasters student activity, children create an action plan so they and their families can be prepared if faced with a disaster.

Wonder What’s Next?

Do you ever feel like you’re going around in circles? Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day is sure to make you feel that way!

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