An Eye For An Eye?

The other day, we were on our daily evening stroll – my 2-year old son [D] and I. We met another lady from our building with her son, who is 2.5 years old. I was aware about her son’s habit of hitting other kids, but I let the kids play. All my son, who is yet to go to school or properly be in the company of other young kids, wanted to do was run around with the other kid. Let us call him P.

An Eye For An Eye - Teach Kids To Stand Up For Themselves - Hitting

His mother is a nice lady, of happy disposition. Now, D would call out to P to run around and hide and generally play. But every time he would be close to P, P would push him. Twice my son fell because of being pushed, but he did not pay much attention to it, got up and continued playing. Thankfully, he wasn’t hurt.

Now, the third time P tried doing it, I went down on my knees, held his hands and told him he cannot push little D. But he got scared, and started crying and calling out to his mother. As the parent of a young child, I needed to assert that I was there to protect him, that I would not let him be hit.

I am aware this is just the beginning. I know there are kids who hit other kids. Mommy friends and relatives have often told me about this situation. And I know this is inevitable when he starts Playschool in coming months. Now, other mommies have told me that they taught their kids to hit back because they were getting hit too often. They cannot be around their kids all the time to protect them.

Now here is the thing: I cannot tell my son to hit other children because we all know it is wrong. All this time, we [most parents] have told our children that hitting others was not ok. Now all of a sudden how could we legitimise it? In a way, will it not teach the child that problems can be solved by violence or intimidation?

When we came back home, I went on my knees and spoke to D about the situation. I asked him if he recalled being pushed by P [he did not really say anything], and told him it was not right; and from next time, he must not allow this in his own capacity. He could hold the other child’s hands and tell him ‘No’. I don’t know if this would work but for now, that is what I want to teach him. I am certain that a child who can stand up for himself is less likely to be bullied.

We all know, raising boys and raising girls have different sets of issues to deal with. Bullying, fighting, physical intimidation, peer pressure are part of growing up as a boy. In good time, I want to train him in Karate or one such martial art to give him the confidence that comes with the knowledge that you could protect yourself. But I will always make it clear that it must be used only in defense. Moreover, as far as I know, all martial arts are based on such philosophies.

Well, I am a relatively new mother. Am I being too naïve? Or am I right in falling back on simply ‘doing the right thing’?

You tell me.

Reema Sahay is a Stay-At-Home-Mom, Freelance Writer, Voracious Reader, Passionate Blogger, Social Media Enthusiast, Internet Junkie and Ex-Marketing Communication Professional. She spends her days running after her very curious toddler, ‘the star’, and catching up on books when he naps. She writes about charms and challenges of life at Pen Paper and shares her passion for books at Recommend Books. She sometimes feels that her 5.5 years stint in Marketing Communication was in another life

  • “I am certain that a child who can stand up for himself is less likely to be bullied.” – Yes, and that ‘standing up’ need not mean an eye-for-an-eye. It can also mean developing a character and maturity of understanding ‘right’ from ‘wrong’.

    I worry a lot on this front, especially since my child is about to go to play school, and looking at him, I know he’s not the sort to plant a punch back when he gets one. 🙂 I think strengthening of psychology (as you point out, through martial arts training, etc) is the key. You are not being naive. You are doing what best suits your child and family, and only you can discern that, Reema. Your dream of a no-violence world is mine too, and we will do out utmost to contribute to the idea. 🙂

    • Reema Sahay

      Thank you Sakshi for boosting my confidence 🙂
      I think at this young age, anyways we are going to be around with our kids when they go out to play, while at school we have to make sure that the teachers are in the look out for such behavior. My son would also start Play school in a few months. I know, I have a difficult time ahead!

  • ronita

    Same is the case with my 7 year old daughter we have been away from this country since she was born ,intially it was quite hard for her to adjust she used to stand meekly for her turns in swings and girls used to push her and take turns and she used to just drops some tears and return back, even now in school kids take away good munchies and only share if one has something worth sharing like one day my daughter asked for chips and the answer was “what do u have in return?” she had just a normal tiffin the reply was “no, that’s not worth ,I cannot give u anything for that tiffin of yours” I was so taken back to hear this, there are many such instances of snatching pencils and items everyday in reputed schools also but I really don’t have the mind to tell my daughter to give the same punch .As you said we can teach them to defend themselves but it’s not ethical as parents to teach them wrong values just to cope with the society .Enjoyed reading it because have been facing the same issue though my daughter is 7 now.

    • Reema Sahay

      Thank you so much Ronita, and I know for sure, little girls can be very mean. My neighbour-friend was telling me about her niece and her friends. The hurtful things the little kids say to each other at 4 years was alarming. But we all know it happens. And you don’t know what to do as a parent!

  • स्वाति जैन

    Ahhh Reema, seems to be my own son’s story…he is expert in just getting hit and not retaliating it back…:( though I have trained him to shout and say ‘NO’ when any body does it so that it catches attention on the other child’s mother…. that’s all we can do…deep in my heart, I’m shooting…comm’on beta hit him back…but we can’t seed this habit in them….way to go…
    i guess that adapt as and when they grow….he was too quiet when in playway….but now in Nursery, as least he has something to speak and something to explain…

    • Reema Sahay

      You said it Swati 🙂 And I hope my son will find his way too but as a mother how do you let go of the fear! You don’t want them to get hurt 🙁

  • Hi Reema: You bring an important point, we have encountered parents that totally turn a blind eye to their kids bullying others. Soon this escalates in a fight between the accompanying adults. I am not for violence but we tell our girls to not to take any nonsense from anybody without hitting and pushing back. In a lot of cases, refusing to play with such kids works when they realize that their aggressive behavior is making then unwanted in a group.

    • Reema Sahay

      You have taught a very important lesson and when you tell me that it works many times; it makes me feel good. I agree with you the adults don’t behave like adults in such situations.

  • Joe Zach

    Teaching the kids not to take nonsense from others is the right step. That need not necessarily have to be an eye for an eye, but we have to tell the kids not to take things lying down.

    • Reema Sahay

      Yes absolutely. Hitting the bullies back isn’t the right thing to do and does not teach kids much for life, but the message which our children must clearly imbibe is that they must not allow other people to hit or bully them [in their capacity].

  • Roshni Aamom

    So, P’s mom, even after witnessing this, did not consider correcting her own son! I can’t say that I’m surprised because I’ve seen enough of indulgent parents who think that their kids can do no wrong!
    My 9 year old also has borne bullying at school and summer camp. Even though I feel that the best solution is sometimes retaliation, I cannot bring myself to tell him this. I encourage him to block the other person’s fists, and also to bring the incident to the attention of his teacher. So far, it’s working, but I shudder to think of what will happen in high school. I’m of the hope that he is physically fit and emotionally confident, that may act as a deterrent to bullies who generally look for a weak target.

    • Reema Sahay

      You have said it very well and I am banking on that too.