If you want to keep your tween’s chatter from turning to gossip there are a few things you can do:
First, be the best example you can.
From childhood, kids mimic what they see from their parents. When they are toddlers, they want to do everything you do. When they get older, they start to resist some, but throughout their life they model the same behavior they see in those that they look up to, and in most cases that is their parents. So, do not gossip, especially not when your tween is around. It gives them an excuse to gossip and justify it.
Second, help gear conversation to things other than people.
Your tween is going to fill time with chatter, this chatter may be on their cell phone. This chatter may be on the computer. Or, this chatter may be the good old fashioned kind. No matter what way they are using to gossip, if you hear them saying things about people, it is a good idea to step in and redirect the conversation to something other than people. Talking about people leads just to gossip.
Third, let your tween know your opinion of gossip, and how hurtful it is.
If you inform children about some of your opinions of gossip, and how hurtful it can be, they may be less likely to gossip. You want to teach your child about the potential harm that gossip can do. Even if they want to hurt someone, gossip can be far more hurtful then some people realize. It can shatter confidence, and lead to extreme problems. So, teach your children to avoid things that can impact other’s lives, and their own so negatively. Encourage them to spend their time and energies on things that are more uplifting.
Fourth, monitor their online and cell phone use to ensure they are not using them to perpetuate gossip.
Your tween may not be gossiping in front of you, but they have text messaging, email messaging, instant messaging, their wall on sites like Facebook, etc. these are all options for perpetuating gossip. So, have access to your children’s phones and computer accounts and periodically monitor their chatter to ensure they are not gossiping.
Fifth, praise them when they catch themselves and stop.
Your child will likely mess up on occasion, but when they catch themselves and stop the chain of gossip, or when someone gossips to them and they do not pass it on, then praise them. Help them know you are proud and that you do notice when they do not gossip.