To Hit or Not To Hit -Teaching Children to Stand Up for Themselves

My children aren’t saints. They have trouble sharing, they take away toys from other children’s hands, they are loud and they are messy. But what they certainly are not is fighters, aggressors or bullies. Normally, I am really happy about this, but lately, my three-year-old daughter has been pushed, hit and called names in all of the different environments that we are engaged in and not once have I seen her standing up for herself.

It is a tricky thing to address as a parent because even though, I have told her to say out loud “no thank you”, “I don’t like it when you push me” and “that’s not nice”, she doesn’t say anything when the aggressor is other than her younger sibling. I am now coaching her to talk to an adult, whether it’s me, the parent of one of her little friends, or her teacher but to be honest, I don’t know if that is going to work either.

It is just hard to witness these attacks (very normal among children) and see how she doesn’t respond but at the same time, I’m glad she’s not responding to violence with more violence. My stand is not to intervene in the affairs of little children, specially when the parent of the other child is not there to correct or stand up for the child. But is getting harder and harder to just watch these things happen and not to act on them. I also don’t want to encourage my children to hit, to push or to be the bullies themselves.

So how do I handle this? Should I just wait for preschool so that my children learn to stand up for themselves or should I continue talking to them about the right they have of saying when things bother them?

If you have older children and you had a similar experience, please share with me how you acted on it and whether your child learned to stand up for him/herself without learning to be violent.

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