Would you teach your children to hit back at school if somebody hit them?

Would you teach your children to hit back at school if somebody hit them


Would you teach your children to hit back at school if somebody hit them? Ask a teacher – and they would say “No”. Ask a parent and they might say “Yes”.

You can’t protect your child all the time – but you can teach him or her alternative and better ways to respond. Hitting back escalates the violence and can lead to severe injuries if not checked. Schools should have an anti-bullying policy in place, but it is not always effective. But bullying is endemic, your child will meet it and some children seem to attract bullies and become frequent victims.

Many children miss school every day, and some drop out of school altogether. You can show your child better ways to respond to bullying than hitting back – but also make sure that if they do have to hit back it is an effective response, quick, short and then they walk away.


Who hits?

Some kids like to dominate and gain attention

Most children like attention and some see bullying as one way to get it. They also like to dominate – it gives them a sense of their own worth and power. They may come from a background where they feel neglected or not appreciated for their qualities. Some have been abused and hit in their own homes and see that as the right way to behave because their parents are violent.

But some bullies come from homes where they have all the love and respect one can imagine. So although the background may be violent or abusive this is not always the case.


Spanking might resolve the immediate situation but it won’t help your child understand why what he did was wrong. Dishing out violence gives the “OK” signal to your kid – hitting is fine. Where the spanking is severe or frequent it can lead to poor parent/child relationships. It also teaches that physical force is one way to attain power over another person, usually a weaker person.

Violent video games

Kids copy and they are less aware of the shades between reality and imagination. It’s hardly surprising that exposure to violent video games makes it easy for them to transfer the behavior seen on screen to real life.


How to cope when it’s your child who hits

  • Check yourself. Is theway you behave contributing to the problem. Be honest!
  • Talk with your child – what happened?
  • Show them that they acted in the wrong way – and shoe them alternative better ways’
  • Don’t accept excuses! The first step to improving the way one acts is to take responsibility for our actions.
  • Don’t humiliate him or her. That is aggressive and counter-productive.
  • Find ways for them to be helpful and do something good that makes them feel good inside.
  • You may need to show them how to make friends. Often they feel lonely and aggression is the only way they know to be noticed.
  • Check what they are exposed to on their screen.


Who is hit?

We all need to belong – to a family, to a group. Any child who is different can be tormented. Color, speech, religion, wearing glasses or stammering, being too tall or too short, or simply not being on the same wave-length as in many children with autistic features or ADHD.

Any child who is seen as weak is a perfect victim. The way one stands, the way one holds oneself, the way one walks may all be an invitation to be hit. The child from a poor family, Ill-clad or not too clean is very vulnerable and often friendless.

Bullying rarely starts with hitting.  Usually, there are preliminary pokes to see how the potential victim responds. When you teach your child the strategies below your child is less likely to be seen as weak and vulnerable.


Alternative strategies to hitting back

1.Practicing the best responses to teasing

Bullies usually don’t start by hitting. They test the waters first. Verbal abuse often precedes physical contact.  A nudge or a bump “accidentally on purpose” may lead to more violent contact, especially in boys. (Girls, as a generalization, tend to be more inventive in their verbal abuse and so find less need to be frustrated to the point of violence.)

Kids learn by copying and practicing. Your children will learn by copying your behavior. If you are constantly angry or threatening they will believe that that is the way to behave, to try to assert domination over others. No one has the right to dominate another person – child or adult.

If however, they see you react to provocation with firmness, kindness, and respect they will learn the techniques for that type of behavior. So you need to teach your child how to respond to these initial tests.

Explain to your child that the bully wants to make them feel afraid or sad – or he is looking for a fight. While your child can’t stop the bully trying – they can control their own response and defuse the situation. You can roleplay together – it’s a great way to demonstrate ways to stop the bullying.


How to teach your child to be assertive without being aggressive

Teach your child to be assertive, but not aggressive. Let them practice how to respond until they can do it automatically. Show them how to stand tall, to speak firmly in a clear voice.

Here are some appropriate responses to practice with your child:

The stop.

Tell them to put a name to the bully’s aggressive behavior and order them to stop.

“Stop teasing me – it’s mean.” Or “That’s nasty – stop it.”

The question

Or they could respond with a question.

“What makes you say that?” or “Why do you want to tell me that and make me feel bad?”


Another response is to agree with the person teasing them.

“Your right. I do have difficulties with seeing things” or “Yes, my accent is posh – but thanks for letting me know?”

Practice useful responses

Some responses can be non-threatening but also show that your child is not a push-over. Such as:

  • Really?
  • Thanks for pointing it out.
  • So?
  • Is that so?

And you can think of others. It’s best not to tease back as that can exacerbate the teasing.


Finally, teasers hate to be ignored and your child can be taught to simply walk away.

2.Teach basic social skills

Sometimes kids need to learn basic social skills. Before joining a group of other children playing a game they need to ask if they can join in. Sometimes the children say, “no,” and your child needs to understand that then they should just walk away. Some children just barge in because they do not understand about asking first. This is one difficulty children with autistic features find challenging.

So make sure your child knows how to wait and assess a situation, then ask, then either join the game or find something else to do. When you show them respect they learn to copy your behavior – and social skills are an essential skill.


3.Contact sports

Contact sports such as rugby give boys in particular a controlled outlet for their energy and aggression.


4.Friends can intervene

While bullies love to be the center of attention they will also find ways to isolate the victim. Teach your child to yell loudly for help. Tell them to beckon other children.

“Hey. I need you here…”

Very often this will frighten the bully away. Other children can often stop the bullying when they intervene often within 10 seconds.

Show your child the best ways to intervene when someone else is being victimized. Here are some suggestions that are effective and non-provoking. Suggest they say something like, “The teacher asked me to tell you to come to her now”, or “Here you are – I wanted to ask you something”, and then turn the child away from the bully towards a safer place and walk away with them.  


5.Access to a phone may help – or hinder

If your child is afraid of being attacked access to a mobile phone may help. However, it might be a red light to the bully who might decide they want the phone for themselves or enjoy destroying it. But there may be times when access to the phone could save them from injury.  

It can also give them confidence which will show in their demeanor. Teach them when to use it – when they feel uneasy before actually facing the threat. Also whether to call you or the police! This can be helpful if they see someone else being attacked.


6.What you must do when your child tells you they are bullied

Make sure they know they are loved and respected – and praise them for having the courage to tell you. Tell them that they are not to blame. Work out a plan of action with them, and follow it through.

Go over the responses above and try to understand which would have been the best one in those circumstances. If it happened at school you must arrange to meet the teacher. Your child should feel safe in school! Your child does not deserve to be a target – and neither does any other child.  If there is a bully at large he or she needs to be stopped.

Most kids are afraid to tell as that will make matters worse. Sadly, in many schools telling does backfire on the “sneak” and teachers seem powerless to intervene appropriately. They may not have the funds available for adequate playground supervision, or the attacks occur outside the school gates and so they feel powerless.

Teachers may deplore the hitting but still be impotent to prevent it or even to deal with the after-effects in a manner that inspires confidence. Children need to feel that they will be protected in school. This is not a time for delay, the problem gets worse if it is ignored. School can be a harsh environment if you don’t fit in.

There may be times when you have to confront the parents of the bully – but when you do, be wary. They will defend their precious child who can do no wrong in their eyes or who is always “asking for it”. Be firm but polite. If things seem to be getting out of hand then you might need to call the police, but this is a last resort.

If your child has been injured then take good photos with a ruler alongside the injury and the date clearly marked. They make good back-up material if you need to pursue the complaint in the future.

Avoid some places

Some places are more likely to be favorite places for bullying to occur. Behind the bicycle shed, in dark alleys, in the changing rooms. Any place where adult supervision may be minimal. So teach your child to avoid these places where possible. Make sure they have a safe route home. If you can arrange for friends to make the journey together as bullies don’t bully when the odds are stacked against them.

Advise them to sit near the front of the school bus, to play close to the supervisor and to take their lunch where the canteen workers can clearly see them.

Learn proper self-defense

Sometimes the only response may be to hit back. An unprovoked attack without prior warning is an example. When this happens, make sure your kid can do so effectively and knows how to hit and hurt – but not too much. Self-defense classes for children with qualified instructors are popular and teach children how to use minimal force for best effect. They also make it clear that physical repose should only be used as a last resort and only when they have been assaulted.



Ask any teacher whether they think a child should hit back and almost all of them say a very firm “NO”. But when you ask them whether they have told their own children to hit back you sometimes get a different answer. After all, in school they are responsible for all the children, and hitting back can escalate the violence.

Hitting back is a last resort, there are many strategies you can teach your child – and practice with them so that hitting back is unnecessary. It’s not the most effective response anyway. However, occasionally hitting back might be the only appropriate response just be sure that your child knows how to do it effectively.

Underlying all this is your own love and strength which your child deserves and needs. When you demonstrate respect and when you are there for your child when he needs you, he or she will find that hitting back is seldom the best way to deal with a bully.


This site is for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace the guidance of a qualified professional.




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