Gossip can be hurtful, and is not something parents want their child to perpetuate. So, what can you do as a parent to keep your tween’s chatter from turning into gossip?
One, set a rule against it.
If you do not want your tween to gossip, then set a rule against it. You have to let your tween know that you are not okay with them gossiping. They have to understand that in your home there is a rule against it, and that you will not be pleased if you find that they are gossiping, no matter how juicy the gossip proves to be. Gossip is gossip, and you will not put up with it.
Set a rule against it, and have some consequences attached with the rule. These can be grounding them from things they enjoy doing, or taking away a privilege or something else.
Two, keep your eyes and ears open to your tweens communication patterns.
Your tween can hide things from you if they want to, as they have many ways to communicate and you can’t be there for all of them, but you can keep your ears and eyes open, and you can watch their moods. Gossip is not good for the mood, and if you want to keep your tween from being too gossipy, watch for indicators that they are gossiping so you can put your foot down before it gets out of hand.
Three, encourage uplifting conversations, and redirect when they are heading in the wrong direction.
Tweens like to chat, and that chatter will inevitably lead to gossip if you do not help your child make better choices. So, if in your presence their chatter turns to gossip, then redirect it, and privately take your child aside and counsel them to stay away from gossip. You can encourage them to converse about better things, and you can provide them with some helpful examples of things to talk about when faced with gossip. Help them learn how to redirect when they are with their friends and gossip starts.
Four, let them know you will periodically check on their emails, Facebook, Myspace, text messages, etc. for inappropriate conversations, including gossip.
This is a great way to limit the gossip through devices, as many of the social networking sites, and modern gadgets available to teens and tweens today make gossip even easier. If they know you do not approve of gossip, and they know you will monitor their pages, etc. they will be less likely to gossip.
Five, set a good example.
If you do not want your tween to gossip, do not gossip yourself. If your tween hears you and your friends gossiping, or you and your family members, or hears you on the phone listening to, and sharing gossip, they will follow in your footsteps. If you are a good example, they will learn from that.