Should We Teach Our Kids To Fight Back?

This was the Good Question last night on the news. What do you think? Both of our boys were very different. Jason was a lot quieter and a went pretty much under the radar for most of his youth. He wasn’t one to get into fights or really any kind of trouble. He’s more than made up for it in his adult life but as a young kid, he was quieter. When  he was in Kindergarten some kid stole a Peanuts hockey pin he had on his coat on the bus and wouldn’t give it back so Paul told him to grab the kid by the lapels and demand it back. So that’s what he did. He got his pin back and there was never any more trouble with that kid. But there wasn’t really any violence nor was there a fight. He just stood up for himself and got the pin back.

Toby on the other hand stuck up for himself. We never had to tell him to defend himself. When he first started school he got on the bus one day and a 6th grader tripped him and he came up swinging and smacked the kid right in the face. That kid was so embarrassed that he and his friends took him under their wing and he was pretty much taken care of and was never picked on again.

I was talking to Paul and Toby about this last night and we differed somewhat. Do you feel “teasing” and bullying are the same thing? Toby kind of does. I was telling him I got teased all the time in school. For being flat chested. I was called Flatsy like the dolls. I used to have one boy in particular sing me this every time I saw him in the hall. He also called me “Not it” which he’d always say “no tit” right after the “notit” like a little song. I hated him but he never hurt me physically. Is it the same thing? Toby said it is because after all this time, I still remember those hall chants.

Don’t you feel no matter what, someone is going to find something to tease us about?Whether we have long hair or red hair, freckles, funny ears or buck teeth. Skinny or fat. Tall or short. Someone is always going to tease you. My mom used to tell me that if someone didn’t like you, they wouldn’t tease you because they wouldn’t bother to take the time.

What do you all think? What have you told your kids about defending themselves? Do you think teasing and bullying are the same?

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10 Responses to Should We Teach Our Kids To Fight Back?

  1. Laura says:

    I do think there’s a difference between ‘teasing’ and ‘bullying’… So much now is considered bullying when, “back in our day” it would have been brushed off, or the insult returned in kind, and then be done. But now, everything has to be an issue. Everybody has a persecution complex… and nobody is allowed to be offended, or have their self-esteem dented.

    I’d like to see kids today try and endure what we went through as kids… Joy, you had “no tit”. I had “butt”. Yep, all my friends delighted in calling me “Butt”, because they decided that I had a big butt (surprise). But at that time, I didn’t. I was a skinny, gangly thing through most of my youth. True, I had hips, and when I wasn’t overweight, I had an hourglass figure. And that was interpreted as having a big backside, and I was followed by that name for years and years and years. Did it bother me? Yes, absolutely. Did it stop me from playing with those girls every day of my life until we went to different high schools? No.

    Now, that would be considered the height of bullying – not only was it a nasty name, it was referencing part of my body, and it made me feel lower than dirt (which meant that it was an effective insult for them – so points on their side). And yeah, it still stings, to this day. But I got plenty of shots in return. Honestly, I can’t remember any of them now, but at the time, I’m sure they were just as nasty, I’m sure each of those girls can remember the horrible names I called them, and if we got together today, we’d have a big round of apology, and be done with it. and probably crack up over our childish selves. The point is, we survived, because we lived by the “sticks and stones” rule. And when that didn’t work, we beat the crap out of each other. And our parents patched us up and threw us back into the fray.

    As for Josh? I bust him if I hear that he’s calling names. Yeah, I remember what it felt like, and I don’t want him to do that to another kid. Do I kid myself that he actually listens? No. He’s a kid. THey’re going to call names. I just don’t sanction it.

    I’ve also enrolled him in TKD, which y’all know. That’s so that he can learn self-defense. Yeah, he’s learning other things, too… coordination (thank goodness), a little discipline… and making friends, but I did put him in there so he could defend himself if the need ever arose.

    And the rule for him is, “you never throw the first punch. Ever. You throw the last one”

  2. SKL says:

    I don’t want to tell my kids to hit back, because you know, the kid who hit in self-defense is always the one who gets in trouble. I tell them to stand tall and tell the person off in a strong voice (hopefully one that a presiding adult will hear).

    I do think we all have to be teased, and bullying is something different. But whichever it is, you can be a victim or not depending on how you view yourself. I think that unless you have a real weakness that puts you at a severe disadvantage, attitude is the key, so I hope that my kids are full of it when the need arises.

    On the other hand, I don’t tell my kids they are not allowed to hit back. If someone was seriously threatening them, I hope basic instinct would kick in and they would use their hands/feet to get free.

  3. I certainly do not think that teasing is okay, however I see a major distinction between bullying and teasing. I’m not a parent, but I’m a teacher so I’ve seen some of the lovely little ones in action. I also, (okay fine we all were) a student who went through school. I got teased about things. I didn’t like it. No one does. But… pretty much everyone has been teased about something at least once in their life. I think it’s something you have to learn to deal with in life. (Note: I also see a large difference between teasing and constant harassing.)

    The fighting back part is difficult. I was not an aggressive child, nor was I ever physically bullied, however my dad made it very clear that if someone ever tried to hurt me I could hit back. (As in, physically harm me… not hurt my pride or ego.) Fortunately, this never came to fruition as it was never an issue. What was so hard about being a classroom teacher was having to follow the, “no physical fighting whatsoever” policy. Someone hit you first? Sorry. You were defending yourself? That’s too bad. I certainly didn’t phrase it in that manner, but that is essentially what I had to say. Why? Because ALL students claim that the other kid started it and they were defending themselves. Sigh. It’s a tough one!

  4. Nikki says:

    I think there is a difference but these days that line is so fine. Everyone should be able to take a little razzing. I got it from a lot my uncles growing up, and I know they loved me so I took it. I got teased for the same reason you did, Joy, and yes it bothered me but 2 minutes after it was said, he was on to someone else and I forgot about it. Some people just tease. Jason teases, sometimes relentlessly. I’ve become used to that but some aren’t, and do take it personal. It all depends on the person, their personality and the seriousness behind it.

    Bailey has never gotten into a fight, and has had to deal with very little bullying. So far, only one real incident has occurred, and the principle took care of that. Bailey just wants to be friends with everyone, and will talk to anyone about anything. It’s hard to tease someone like that. Some kids, it seems as though they have a target on their back.

    There is a fine line, and it is something that should be looked at closely, because kids DO cross the line. All we can do is teach our own children to stand strong against them, and stand up for the ones who don’t.

  5. Joy says:

    What about people who say “you decide how people treat you?” If you take abuse or teasing or bullying, does it tell people you’re okay with it? Or do you defend and stick up for yourself? I’ve heard many doctors say if you allow people to treat you like trash, they will but if stand up for yourself, you’ll have better relationships.

  6. Joy says:

    OR, if you stand up the school-yard bully, he’ll stop bullying you. Do you think that’s true?

    • Nikki says:

      Standing up for yourself, in my opinion, is always a good thing! You can do that without being physical, but we’ve always told Bailey if things get physical and he needs to fight back then that’s exactly what he needs to do. But he knows to never start it.

      In every case I have seen where a kid stands up to his bully, that bully does stop.

      I guess to a point I do agree with Jason. In most cases you can tell the difference in teasing and bullying, but it can cross the line very easily. And also, kids are different. What hurts one kids feelings, might not another.

      • Nikki says:

        And I also think there is some truth to, ““you decide how people treat you?” I let people walk all over me, but not because it didn’t bother me. I just didn’t feel strong enough to not allow it. I don’t allow it anymore, funny how people have stopped using me as a door mat!

  7. Jason says:

    I feel that there is a huge difference between teasing and bullying. I think teasing is something that is done by friends and family and I think that bullying is something that is done by people that are not part aforementioned group. I think children should know how to stand up for themselves, but they should also know that hitting a person should not be the first course of action.

  8. SKL says:

    I think that teasing can be either kind-hearted (when the teaser expects the other side to understand there is no ill intent), or a way of deflecting one’s own momentary feelings of insecurity. Bullying may employ “teasing” and/or other behaviors, but the purpose is to control the other person or make him “inferior” over an extended period. I feel it is wrong to call a one-off tease (or fight or whatever) “bullying.” Nowadays they want to define bullying as anything that makes another person feel bad even for a moment. By that definition, pretty much everyone has bullied or been bullied. I don’t accept that.

    When I was a kid, I was teased a lot because I was an easy target emotionally. I pretty much felt like if kids criticized me or called me names, it was because I was inferior. I did not know or understand the concept that how “I” took it was what gave it power.

    I remember one day I was feeling attacked, and I saw a popular girl in the hall with shoes that made her feet look flat. I called her “flatfoot.” It was totally uncalled for, but I immediately felt guilty and never did such a thing again. By today’s standards, some people would say I “bullied.”

    On the other hand, when I was in 8th grade, a group of girls acted in concert to threaten me, do mean things like pour pencil shavings in my hair daily, etc., and periodically punch me / stab me with pencils/pens, over a period of time, to the point where I dreaded going to school. This included two “fights” that were supposed to resolve everything, but instead gave rise to more threats, etc. That was bullying.

    Anyhoo – I do believe that the way “we” take things is what determines whether we’re a victim or not of verbal teasing in particular. Easy to say, but how do you make sure your kid understands this and has the guts to stare down / tell off the jerk who is picking on her? Hopefully I figure this out before my kids need to apply it.

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