Monday, 12 September 2011

Dibber dobber?

Tittle tattle
Dibber dobber

There are a lot of words for it.

That suggests to me that the decidedly unattractive trait of telling tales has been rife and active the world over for hundreds of generations.

Kids in the school yard, running to teacher, to tell tales on the other children's "naughtiness".

High school girls, gossipping, relaying truths and untruths and versions in between, about one another. Friends, apparently.

The little sister who runs back to Mummy and Daddy at the hint of dissension and boringly details all the meanness that has been visited upon her.

My children, at the young ages they are, are horrific offenders. All three of them are still habitual in the trait of snitching on one another, despite their efforts falling upon deaf ears, most days.

I see and hear it in other children, at kindy and school. And hear teachers suggest that they should worry about themselves, and not what others are doing. (Wise words indeed.)

I recall being a tittle tattle as a child myself. "Muuuumm? They are being meeeean to's not fair." It was, thankfully, a habit that was knocked out of me pretty quickly.

In turn, the lovely husband and I do not tolerate it from our kids either. (I am all too aware of how good a sell job each of my children can do, to make their side of the story ring true. I force myself to never take sides, and am rare to jump in to assist. Youngest girls seem particularly adept at this. I offer no reward to Lexie for singing like a canary on her brother and sister...)

And oddly, recently, I realise that this distasteful habit is still evident in adults. Sad.

Dobbing in grown ups. In order to garnish support? Sympathy? The ultimate in defensive action? The first line of attack? Passive aggression in it's most immature form? Grown ups STILL running to Mum and Dad to tell tales? To bolster insecurity perhaps? To satisfy some narcissistic streak? Who knows. I do know it gobsmacks me that this goes on at all. It appalls me. It is so lame, it's actually quite funny. I am sure adults who do this do not perceive it as pathetic: I am sure they excuse or deny it, somehow? Perhaps they would defend themselves, claiming the injustices they are reporting to be justified.

And I do know that witnessing such immature behaviour in adults makes me even keener and more aware to ensure my children grow out of it, and soon.

And I also find it fascinating that there are so many words and phrases to describe the art of being a nark...

Do your kids do this?

God forbid, do you know adults that have dobber tendencies?

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  1. The dobber tendency is rampant among my siblings and even my mother. And I absolutely hate it and see no point to it what so ever. The funny thing is they all complain about each other doing it while at the same time they are doing the same thing. By the way never heard the term Dobber. I now have a new way of referring to their constant gossiping.

  2. I was the dobber in my family growing up (hello third child syndrome!) - I think the teasing from my brother and sister knocked it out of me!

  3. A 16 or 17yo acquaintance of my daughter committed suicide last week. She had been bullied. She hadn't told her family.
    We need to teach our children how to tell tales perhaps, rather than to never tell.

  4. My kids do it and unfortunately I need to deal with it more than ask them to deal with it themselves as it is part of K's OT work to be able to learn the right words to deal with these situations. We have introduced a 'say it to the person first' policy with the students at work after incredibly bad bitching/ bullying. So now I have students 'dobbing' to me often, but it only results in both students being put in a room together (with a teacher) to talk it out. If it is not resolved but continues then the student who continues it knows they have crossed the line into bullying and it becomes a serious situation. It has elliminated 97% of the bitching behind backs and the angst in the room thank goodness and has taught many how to handle and confront their emotions and other people on their actions which is great. I have seen it in adults but it seems to be more bitching than dobbing for sympathy? perhaps I am not seeing dobbing in adults then?

  5. My eldest is a dobber. He's constantly dobbing on his little brother, who likes to annoy him and get a reaction. We're trying to teach him to ignore his brother and not tell tales, but he's slow to catch on. It's driving me completely crazy.

  6. My brother is a dobber on me all the time! It's so annoying, but honestly I do it too. :) ain't nothing wrong with it. :D hehe

  7. You know Lucy, we've encourage our kids to be dobbers but I don't know how to get them to stop when there's no need for it. My daughter is super, super shy at school (Grade 1) and when she's been bullied, we encourage her to tell the teacher. My son, on the other hand, tends to use physical retaliation and we encourage him to tell the teacher if someone took his toy etc etc. In both instances, I'm sure the teachers tell them not to tell tales. I'm not sure what else to do. My daughter would continue to be bullied as she's not resilient and my son would continue to hit out rather than use his words. At home, when they dob on each other, while they're doing what we've taught them and 9 times out of 10 is warranted, it annoys the hell out of me. My 43 year old sister still dobs on me to Mum too. LOL

    Anne @ Domesblissity xx

  8. I don't mind it if it's important but if it just petty dobbing, I can't stand it. My middle child did it all the time when she was younger. And now my dobber is the youngest.

    Unfortunately we have a couple dobbers in our extended family that obviously think it's going to get them in the good books.

  9. If my kids do it, I tend to tell them that I don't care and they need to deal with it themselves. If it's something serious they've done that involves damage of some sort, they usually never tell and then when I find out they blame each other. I tend to punish both of them because who knows what really happened?

    I encourage my kids to address issues at school in an age appropriate way first, but if they can't deal with it and it's serious enough, I'm always at them to tell the teacher. I don't bullying to get out of hand.

  10. Apparently I am a dober, according to my siblings. It's absolutely ridiculous & they don't tell me things assuming I will go running to my mother to tell her what they're up to.

    I saw one sister smoking at a party & her first comment was "don't tell mum" and then she had a big freak out to my brother that mum was going to find out. For goodness sakes she was 32 at the time & as if I could care less about that.

    My other sister was worried I'd tell our dad about her tattoos. She's had the first for almost 10 years now & not a wor has been said.

    Still the opinion remains & I just don'tget it.

  11. Drives me crazy, but I also don't want them to completely lose the tendency in case of bullying or even the need to be a whistleblower in the future.

    My best strategy for the inane dobbing? The reply "Thanks for telling me". Kidlet is usually satisfied with the response, I haven't taken sides or got involved.

  12. Dobber...hmmm. My Americaness is hurting me on this one. The only thing I know of called a dobber is a "Dirt Dauber" - it's a harmless insect that builds nests.

    I'm going to assume it's a tattle tale and say that I agree with Hissychick. I usually just acknowledge but don't take action unless someone is bleeding or really hurtful things are being said.

  13. I agree completely, Lucy. It really is disgusting to see adults act like school children tattling to mother or teacher.

  14. Are those your kids in the picture? Cute.

    my stategy for dobber-ing in the classroom:
    I say 'solve your problem'... students must figure it out - unless it's deathly... if the problem still continues.. they write about it in a note to me.. put it in the classroom mailbox...which i bring to all the students attention.... when it's serious they write, when it's not - they forget about it...
    this helps with not wasting time.. just get to the point..

  15. I think I have been witness to so many serious cases of bullying in schools to disagree with this one. The culture of "not dobbing" has spun so far out of control that many children are terrified to speak up in case they are, god forbid, labelled a dobber.
    So many children suffer bullying in silence because they're a) terrified if they speak up b) scared of being given this label. Over and over again, parents have asked kids in front of me, usually when situations when have come to a head why they didn't tell someone, and this was ALWAYS the reason why.
    There is a reason parents and teachers miss bullying when it occurs because it is so hidden and so covert. And if we're not encouraging our kids to speak up, then we become part of the problem rather than working towards a solution.
    I think the key is acknowledging our kids when they tell us things. Let's give them the skills to address it. But by shutting them down and telling them not to tell on others, I think there is a real danger of creating a don't tell culture.
    And if my child is dismissed when it comes to telling me about little things, then why the hell would they tell me when it comes to the big things during the teenage years? My kids know they can tell me stuff. They know I won't usually intervene, but having someone who listens is usually enough.
    At this young age they can't distinguish between what's important and what's not, they usually just need reassurance they've been heard. Does this make them a "dobber?" Maybe. But as they get older they learn to discern between the petty and the important and they have the confidence (hopefully) to work out what they can address on their own and what they may need extra help with.
    If we shut that down from the outset, I really think we're setting them up for not being able to tell us stuff when we really need them to so we can resolve issues early on.
    Just my two cents.

  16. As for my two cents,
    I teach kindergarten and we have a tattle chart in my room. AFTER I talk to the children about the difference between reporting (where someone or something is being or going to be hurt) and tattling (where you want someone else to get into trouble) I put the chart on the wall.
    When someone comes and says, "Frederic is writing on the wall." (Which is odd because I've never had a Frederic in class...but I digress) I say thank you for reporting. If someone says, "Marisol didn't put her name on her paper." (I've had scads of Marisols) Then I say, "OH NO!!!" Tattler always looks vindicated. "You are trying to get someone in trouble! I have to put a mark on the tattle chart." Oops, that's not what they were going for. A usual class gets about 10 marks for the year.
    As far as bullying goes, we (all the teachers) say, "Try to solve that problem and if that doesn't work then come back and tell us." We don't want to raise kids thinking that someone will follow them around all the time making sure everything is "fair." I think that they should try to stand up for themselves because that is the best way to get a bully off your back. And in kindergarten a simple, "I don't like when you __________." seems to do the trick in most cases.
    Sorry, that was more like 8 and a half cents.

  17. Oh yes my girls are good at this one. I have had enough at the moment and now have a rule in place. If it is simply dobbing to get the other in trouble they lose a marble from their marble jar (aka mini pocket money system). The only time where dobbing is okay, is if they are telling on the other child for doing something dangerous and wrong.
    Parenting is hard. *sigh*

  18. Totally drives me nuts. If everyone just got over what others were doing and worried about themselves, I'm sure the world would be a better place.

    Oh, and 'it's not fair' is BANNED in my household. Cannot stand it!

  19. Someone dobbed on me using their Facebook status update. That was fun.

  20. Some people just never grow up!

  21. hmmm, this makes me wonder if I'm a "dobber"...I know I've got people in trouble for serious things like stealing and drugs...but my view on things like that are "if you don't want people to know, don't do it!" And also "don't tell me anything that will play on my conscious, I like my sleep thank you!!" The people I "dobbed" on didn't like it though :-/


  22. Is gossiping just another form of tattling do you think?

  23. Pam ^^ I'd say, absolutely!

    I really appreciate Jeff's 8 1/2 cents' worth. What a great comment. I might use that (or some of it, at least). I've come to a point where I'm not enjoying my Miss Lollipop so much at the moment... the whiney hard-done-by's is the name I give to tattling (in my own head, even if I don't tell her that's what I think of what she's doing).

    I don't have a hard and fast rule about 'dobbing'. It's got to be case by case for me. I'm hoping that if I remain consistent in my responses and keep reinforcing what is and is not tolerated in our home (like hitting, etc.) then my daughter will grow up knowing what's right and wrong, no matter who she's around. But really, she's so moral and indignant when someone has done wrong by someone else that she can't help herself.... I'm looking for constructive ways to curb her natural instinct to defend (I call her Constable Whatman.... that might not be very good as a label....)

  24. It's tricky because when they're very little you teach them to "tell a grown-up" rather than thumping a kid back in the playground. But then they get a bit older and suddenly it becomes "don't dob"! I'm going through this transition with my five year old atm. "Uh, yeah, I know I USED to say to tell me every time Billy won't share his toys. Game's changed. Keep up!"

  25. I think we all know adults who act like children on occasion. I see the younger generation, who do not have the same social skills as our generation, due to computers, video games and the boob tube taking up the majority of their time, not having a chance to emotionally mature before they enter the workplace. These are the first to scream, "That's not fair!" anytime a decision is made not in their favor. I think this will only become an increasing problem unless we can get our kids unplugged and out in the world to live and experience relationships.
    Our generation did not have twitter, facebook or texting.

    I had to actually talk one of my younger friends into breaking up with her boyfriend in person, rather than through a text. She replied, "But it's so much easier in text." Thankfully she took my advice and did it the right way and she felt a little more human for it.

    You have a wonderful blog and reading your posts. Thanks for the great content.

  26. Can you tell I'm reading everything from this week all at once!?

    I got into 'trouble' at work last year because someone dobbed on me after they overheard me say something and took it out of context... It was awful. I got hauled over the coals by the big boss all because someone (was never told who but it was pretty clear), an adult in his 50s, thinks that being in cahoots (sp?) with the big boss is the right thing. It was demoralising and being so bad at confrontation I just stood there and took the tongue lashing. Because I wasn't told who the dobber was I couldn't talk to anyone about it. And I was forbidden from telling anyone that the big boss had told me off. Crazy. I'm in my 30s and the people I work with are in their 50s. So what did I do? Told EVERYONE in the office who'd listen, posted all about it on Facebook (didn't have a blog then) and emailed anyone else... It didn't do much except make me feel better.
    In a situation like this, dobbing was completely unnecessary and served to do nothing except lower the morale in an already fractured team.

    No sibs so no dobbing in our family. Toddler dobs on 8 month old which is funny! I don't like unnecessary dobbing but in serious instances, like bullying perhaps, think it's okay.


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