When is it OK to fight back?
Each family has their own tolerances for what appropriate responses to “kids being kids”. My intent in writing this is to spark conversation not participate in said conversation. While we teach students the “how” to defend themselves, the when to defend themselves needs to be a family decision, especially as it relates minor children. Clear expectations regarding what actions “permit” physical response. Bullying ceases to be bullying when an encounter becomes physical, that is when it becomes assault. What’s important to this conversation is the understanding of what self-defense means; stopping a threat without becoming a threat. When we talk with students about defending themselves the conversation revolves around creating the opportunity to get away, nothing more.
When you have this conversation, it needs to be about ranges of activities. For example, if a child gets shoved to the ground the appropriate response may be to jump up and run away. However, if they are getting punched or kicked after being knocked down they may need to kick and punch back. Just keep the conversation light enough so as not to scare or alarm, rather be supportive in the decision they need to make, because they will need to make the decision on their own, it’s not likely that a parent will be conveniently nearby.
Safety in Numbers
Targets that are solitary tend to be picked on more than groups of two or more. Teach your kids to surround themselves with people they can trust to be there for them if they need it. It’s also a good idea to have a “Friends and Acquaintances” conversation. It’s very important that kids understand the value that a true friend brings to a relationship. True friends look for what they can do to strengthen a relationship, acquaintances tend to only be concerned with what they get out of a particular relationship. Teach your kids to surround them selves with good friends and not focus too much on the acquaintances.