On hitting back

For no particular reason, yesterday was a crap day. Whiny tired kids, whiny tired me, the husband at work all weekend – you know the kind of thing. So pretty much as soon as I could decently put them to bed, I did, and then followed them with a beer and the laptop for a cheering-up dose of Outnumbered, the BBC comedy about a 2-parent, 3-kid family, which never fails to make me feel a bit better about life.

Here’s a clip from the episode I watched last night…

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It’s not one of the funniest bits by any means, but I wanted to share it because it reminds me of one of the ongoing dilemmas we face as parents – what do you tell your children about hitting other kids? It used to be really clear in my mind –  DON’T. And while they are small, that’s fairly easy to maintain. Don’t push other kids around, and if someone does it to you, don’t hit back, just tell a grownup.

It’s not so clear cut for me now. I’m still parroting the ‘don’t hit anyone, ever’, line but particularly with the eldest, should I be encouraging him to stand up for himself more? He’s nearly eight and though I don’t want him to be aggressive to other kids, I do want him to be able to look after himself – and of course as they get older, grassing people up becomes less a route to solving a problem and more to becoming seen as a weakling. It’s not a problem at school, thankfully – where there have been issues between some of the boys the staff seem to be very good at nipping them in the bud. But holiday playscheme is another matter – he is often picked on by one of the older boys there, and there has also been some shoving around. The staff are pretty good but it is never going to be the same controlled environment that it is in school.

Summer holidays are nearly 3 months away but he’s getting anxious about 4 weeks at playscheme already, and I’m getting anxious for him, and about what I should be telling him to do if the picking on gets more physical? He knows not to hit first, but should I be relaxing the line about not hitting back? And what if he does, and it escalates and someone gets really hurt? What are the rest of you telling your kids? I would love to hear about it!

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8 thoughts on “On hitting back

  1. Oh that’s a tough one. We had issues with H being put upon by other children and had yo work out what to do. I don’t like the idea of hitting either but I do think it’s important to make bullies realise they won’t win.
    We’ve been working on her ‘game face’ to show them she doesn’t care, and a few ways of verbally cutting them down to size, or making it funny. Just recently a girl was mean to get and she told the teacher. The girl accused her of ‘running to teacher’. H told her that if she hadn’t been mean there’d e been no need to tell. Throwing it back on the mean child to show there are consequences seems to be working a bit. But if you get any good ideas here, I’m happy to try them!

    1. I think arming them with a few smart retorts and practising them sounds like good advice, I’ll give that a try and report back…someone else on my twitter feed said she’d been doing a similar thing with positive results too. Hope things are settling down for H, sounds like you’ve got it covered! x

  2. Oh that’s a tough one. We had issues with H being put upon by other children and had yo work out what to do. I don’t like the idea of hitting either but I do think it’s important to make bullies realise they won’t win.
    We’ve been working on her ‘game face’ to show them she doesn’t care, and a few ways of verbally cutting them down to size, or making it funny. Just recently a girl was mean to get and she told the teacher. The girl accused her of ‘running to teacher’. H told her that if she hadn’t been mean there’d e been no need to tell. Throwing it back on the mean child to show there are consequences seems to be working a bit. But if you get any good ideas here, I’m happy to try them!

    1. I think arming them with a few smart retorts and practising them sounds like good advice, I’ll give that a try and report back…someone else on my twitter feed said she’d been doing a similar thing with positive results too. Hope things are settling down for H, sounds like you’ve got it covered! x

  3. Was thinking about this the other day… I’ve kind of been teaching 3 and a half year old to fight a little bit. More in a rough and tumble way… girls tend to get a bit left out of all the fast and physical stuff at a young age… all this early-years play fighting and stuff helps make you strong, healthy and in-tune with your body.
    I don’t really know what the right message is… I guess as with most things you let them find out for themselves, offer your opinion/support, try not to tell them what to do.
    Thanks for the thinking!

    1. I am still working on the trying not to tell them what to do bit, though as the husband will tell you that is a general failing of mine and not just applicable to kids! Thanks for reading 🙂

  4. Was thinking about this the other day… I’ve kind of been teaching 3 and a half year old to fight a little bit. More in a rough and tumble way… girls tend to get a bit left out of all the fast and physical stuff at a young age… all this early-years play fighting and stuff helps make you strong, healthy and in-tune with your body.
    I don’t really know what the right message is… I guess as with most things you let them find out for themselves, offer your opinion/support, try not to tell them what to do.
    Thanks for the thinking!

    1. I am still working on the trying not to tell them what to do bit, though as the husband will tell you that is a general failing of mine and not just applicable to kids! Thanks for reading 🙂

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