Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday Mastery: Introduction & Tattle Tales

I don't know about you, but Garfield (the cartoon cat) and I have a lot in common when it comes to Mondays.  I don't think I've ever really been a fan of this day in the week and as I grow older, I'm finding more and more reasons to loathe the day.

A friend of mine recently heard me speaking about a terrible day and complaining that it was a Monday and she wisely advised me to rebuke what I had spoken aloud.  After all, Monday is just a day like any other.  A day that the Lord has made.  It is my attitude that needs changing, not the page on the calendar.

So in an effort to think more positively about my Mondays, as well as in an effort to name a theme to help me in my blogging, I want to focus on the concept of mastery.  The old saying goes, "You learn something new every day" (though even after some online searches, I couldn't figure out who said that first or who made it popular).  And while I may not learn something all that fascinating every day, I'm pretty sure that I do, in fact, learn something.

The idea of Monday Mastery is that I'll share a little something I learned during the previous week or so ... or if not me, then, one of our children.  After all, their brains are ripe for discovery and it's fun to watch them growing and learning.  So in some shape or form, I'm going to attempt to share with you some personal mastery happening here in our family on Mondays. 

Get it? Got it? Good.

In an ironic twist, instead of sharing something I've mastered, I'm going to write today about something my sister heard about on Air1 radio and we are adapting for use here with our children.  So technically I learned about this technique today, but it is far from mastered!

Basically (per my sister), the DJ was having trouble with her sons and too much tattling on each other about things.  We also struggle with this issue in our home.  Many of the tattles are just impulsive complaints and not actual problems needing Mom's attention.

So to take the impulsiveness out of the tattles, the DJ-mom started having her kids need to set themselves up in a particular location (in the living room, on all fours with a blanket over them) before they could tattle.  Because it took more effort than her children wanted to put into making a tattle, they thought twice before doing so and like that, her tattle-levels decreased significantly.

I took this idea and have decided to combine it with a little homeschooling.  I made a sign and posted a manila-envelope for collection and explained that all tattles must now be made in writing so I can deal with them when I have time.  There are a posted set of exceptions to the written tattle rule (where they can verbally tell us), which include: if someone is hurt or in serious danger; if something expensive is broken or about to be; or if someone breaks a rule and then specifically tells them not to tattle -- it is probably important that they tattle instead of helping to cover it up.  For our non-writers (J & O), I'll probably have them use something like the DJ does ... specific location and position with some extra effort going into it.

My hope is that this will help stem the onslaught of constant tattles I get in a day.  Also, this may help limit the number of interruptions while I'm schooling one or two children and others are playing together in another room.  If I'm having to help solve every tiny issue the moment it arrives, I lose my train of thought and school time takes up an entire day, with no real time for chores or play.  Maybe, making them write these tattles down will lead them to work together better to solve little problems -- and if not, it's good writing practice.  Either way, it's a win-win.

Hopefully, I can let you know how this goes in the near future.  I've gotten some eye rolls from the kids when they saw the sign and envelope hanging up, but no one has been blatantly angry in their response to it.

My first two written tattles of the day: "Dear Mom, Tell J to stop being rude to us. Help!" and "Mama, the three younger kids are throwing pens and stabbing pillows." 

The first problem was resolved before I got around to reading the tattle and the second one yielded a quick discussion about the dangers of throwing pens (and pencils) and there was some finger-pointing about who started it, to which I suggested they each write down their version of the story.  That made them all quiet and they decided to do something else.  Solved.

If you have other ways of stemming tattling problems, please share them.  I could use mastery of this subject on many levels!  Thanks and happy Monday.


  1. Hahaha.. "the three younger kids are throwing pens and stabbing pillows." The best part about this little idea is all the awesome tattles on paper you'll have! You could totally make a scrap book!

    Let us know how it goes. I find different parenting tricks and ideas pretty interesting.

    I like the idea of Monday Mastery! Great thought.. I should record some stuff I learn each week somewhere.

  2. I already put today's into a binder. :) It might be like good for the memoirs later ... their personal accounts of what their siblings were doing at this time in our lives. Ha!

  3. This morning J got angry and whipped O with a beaded necklace (it left quite the welt!). After that, J sulked around, feeling bad, but not really wanting to apologize. Eventually, J pointed to the Written Tattle envelope and said, "Mama, look what's in there." She'd written a tattle on herself, but since she's not yet a reader-writer, she just put her name and "I love you." I got her point anyway. She was sorry.