Do you teach your child that if they're hit, they should hit back?

(62 Posts)
IcouldstillbeJoseph Wed 22-May-13 16:25:06

I remember being taught this as a child but now I have 2 small DC I have told them they don't hit back but they come and tell me, or CM etc.
DS is 2.3 and runs and tells me he's been bashed or whatever. Anyway, was at a playgroup last week and a friend (who incidentally is a police officer) told me that she has told her daughter if someone hits her she should hit them back harder as "I dont want her to become a target".
It got me thinking....
What does everyone else do?

MirandaWest Wed 22-May-13 16:26:14

I don't tell my children to hit back as that's not what I think is right.

signet Wed 22-May-13 17:05:56

I don't tell mine I hit back. Personally I think it creates a whole heap of trouble if you tell them that. Schools won't distinguish between who hit who first so if a child hits back at school regardless of the antagonism, they'll be in trouble.

signet Wed 22-May-13 17:06:32

Oops that should have read I don't tell them to hit back!! smile

kilmuir Wed 22-May-13 17:07:39

Hit back. Bully will be less inclined to return

Pozzled Wed 22-May-13 17:08:39

No. I tell them to make it clear they don't like it (so the other child can't use the 'it was only a game/joke' excuse) and then tell an adult if it continues.

scaevola Wed 22-May-13 17:10:06

There's been a few of these threads recently a you might want to try to search function to see if you can find any, as views there might interest you.

Everyone, no matter how young, has a right to self defence. However telling a child to hit back will not achieve that. A child who does not know how to fight cannot be sure of winning, and faces added harm and humiliation by losing (let alone the added problem of the chances of getting into equal trouble with the perpetrator).

ChoudeBruxelles Wed 22-May-13 17:13:17

Up until very recently I've always told ds (7) not to hit back. However he keeps being hit/punched/kicked by another boy in his year. I'm fed up with the school/parent doing nothing so told ds to hit him back if he did it again.

Funny since ds punched him back in the playground the other week he hasn't hurt ds. Has moved onto hitting other children though

Gunznroses Wed 22-May-13 17:13:52

Yes! Same as your police officer friend. I started off with the never hit anyone back, report to a teacher caution, by yr 3 when ds had gone through being hit on and off through from reception with the only punishment being said child missing break time. I told ds to hit back harder...Worked a treat!
Ds too missed break time but was never hit again, other child gained a new found respect for him and they even became friends.

Until schools can manage these situations more effectively im afraid the nicey nicey method doesn't always work.

FranSanDisco Wed 22-May-13 17:17:46

When they were little I'd say they should tell an adult or say loudly "No, don't hit me". However, as they got older (7 years ++) I said if someone constantly targetted them then they should hit them back. Ds is 10 yo and has not one aggressive bone in his body. He told me a boy in his class threw a football in his face, laughed and then hit him over the head with someone's lunch box saying "good header" each time. This boy had made another child cry the day before by constant punching to his arm; 10 yo boys don't tell an adult. Ds punched this joker twice in the stomach and apparently he walked off and hasn't said a word to ds since. I think ds handled this well.

Gunznroses Wed 22-May-13 17:23:46

Fran - i agree your ds handled it exceptionally well!

scaevola Wed 22-May-13 17:27:06

Oh, you don't have to be nicey nicey.

But self defence is a learned skill. A good martial arts programme is worthwhile, learning how to block punches and hit effectively. And the proper children's programmes have 'dealing with bullies' sections, with a range of techniques. Just saying 'hit back' is inadequate.

kiwigirl42 Wed 22-May-13 17:36:59

my DS is a mild mannered chap and not athletic at all. He has been needled by a boy at school for a few mths, making fun of him etc. This boy kept throwing the ball right at his face so DS punched him. I was horrified until he explained circumstances. I am pleased he stood up for himself - his not his job to be kicking boy for these out of control kids.

MrsOakenshield Wed 22-May-13 17:39:56

DD is 3.5 and we have taught her to shout very loudly DON'T HIT ME IT HURTS/I DON'T LIKE IT!!!!!!! And then go to one of the nursery staff if it continues.

Don't know what I'd do with an older child though.

mummy2benji Wed 22-May-13 17:41:57

If we all taught our children to hit back, school would be just an endless stream of violence and hitting. I see your friend's point - I don't want my son to be a target for bullies either - but I consider it more important that he doesn't grow up with that attitude, that it's fine to hit people if you were hit first. I tell him to walk away, and go and stand near a teacher if they follow you and keep hitting. I've told him to tell me about it, but I haven't emphasized "go and tell a teacher" as I don't want him to be known as a tell-tale. It's a difficult situation but morality should win out.

noisytoys Wed 22-May-13 17:43:54

I taught my DD from the start to hit back but never hit first. It is always the same children who bully and intimidate others, they need to know my children aren't scared of them and won't tolerate their behaviour

Wishiwasanheiress Wed 22-May-13 17:45:23

One answer doesn't fit all ages or situations or child. I think for now what u say is ok but u may well have to alter that on the fly as S/He grows.

Wishiwasanheiress Wed 22-May-13 17:46:46

Btw having been bullied myself (who hasnt?!)I have no problem in the future telling dds to belt someone back if required. Sometimes it is the only response that actually works.

EndoplasmicReticulum Wed 22-May-13 17:48:42

I think it depends on circumstance.
Probably best not to, but on the other hand should they just stand there and take it if running away / telling adult isn't an option?

I have told mine not to. But they are always fighting (each other) anyway. I don't think there's much I can do to win that one.

LizzieVereker Wed 22-May-13 17:50:55

Tricky... I am a Mum and a teacher and have always been of the "Don't hit back, it doesn't solve anything" school of thought.

However, my mild mannered DS in yr 8 was badgered for 2 or 3 weeks by another lad who wanted to fight him, after a misunderstanding. DS kept refusing but eventually was surrounded by a whole group of baying boys, and was shoved towards the other boy who wanted a fight. DS threw one solid punch, knocked him down and walked away. They were both internally excluded for a day, which we fully supported, what if he'd really hurt the other boy?

DS and the other boy made up their differences in exclusion, and since then DS seems to have attained a bit of "cred" and been left alone. I will still never say out loud "hit back", but I must admit privately, I think DS's actions dealt with the situation a lot quicker than any number of method of dealing with it...

bigbuttons Wed 22-May-13 17:52:37


Ilovemyrabbits Wed 22-May-13 17:57:39

I told my child never to hit back. I also told her never to accept verbal abuse, but to be sarcastic in response. She doesn't get upset if anyone says horrible things to her and nothing has escalated to physical violence yet. DD is tall and has a very 'hard' look when she wants to. I wouldn't want to threaten her with physical violence cos she's so self-contained! Of course, next week someone might punch her and I'll be struggling to tell her not to hit back, even though I know it's not the most constructive way to deal with things..

I've never said to DS1 to hit back but he's only 4. I told him if someone hurts him to put his hand in front of him and yell "NO/STOP." Then to inform a teacher.
I've no idea if he actually does this though but he's quite young for his age so don't know how he'd handle the situation.

When he's older, I probably would tell him to hit back. I was bullied for many years and it was horrible. I don't want him to go through that.

VerySmallSqueak Wed 22-May-13 18:00:58

Yes,I have taught mine to hit back.

The school told me it wasn't their policy,so I told them that's fine,but it is mine.

Mominatrix Wed 22-May-13 18:09:20

No. I have told them to not hit back, and to run and inform someone in charge. As they are young and in very sheltered environments, this issue has never come up - yet.

FortyFacedFuckers Wed 22-May-13 18:11:06

I didn't tell my child to hit back until he started school and a little boy was hitting him every day for months and months after trying to get the school to sort it out with no success I eventually told my son to hit him back harder, he did once and has had no trouble since.

Mominatrix Wed 22-May-13 18:25:28

But what message does it give the child? Be more violent than your aggressor and it will solve your problem?

VerySmallSqueak Wed 22-May-13 18:31:22

No,I think it teaches them that they are not a punchbag.

TheFallenNinja Wed 22-May-13 18:31:36

Mine were told to hit back but harder.

I believe that if someone hits you and you don't hit them back harder they will forever occupy a small part of your mind and it will slowly grind away at you.

DameSaggarmakersbottomknocker Wed 22-May-13 18:33:06

Mine are grown now but were taught to not hit back in the first instance but that if telling a grown-up didn't work that they have a right to defend themselves.

This was based on my experience that my own school bully didn't desist despite tellings off from adults but did when I slapped her back.

It's difficult.

VestandKnickers Wed 22-May-13 18:38:07

I teach my children to move away from a child that hits. If the other child keeps bothering them or hurts them to tell an adult. I tell them not to hit under any circumstances as it is nver the right thing to do.

VestandKnickers Wed 22-May-13 18:39:50

Telling a child to hit back but hit harder just createa a circle of violence. What happens if their attacker is bigger and they can't hit back harder? Should they go and grab a brick? How can violence ver be encouraged?

VerySmallSqueak Wed 22-May-13 18:44:16

If I am attacked in the street I will fight back,if I am able.
I think if my child is attacked they should be able to do the same.

TheFallenNinja Wed 22-May-13 18:48:43

It is difficult but I don't want them being victims, at least if you have a go you tried.

VestandKnickers Wed 22-May-13 18:49:52

A child is not likely to be mugged in the playground or the park! Children quite often give each other a bit of a thump or a shove and they have to develop a strategy to deal with that. They also need to understand what to do if a child really hurts them.
Violence against adults in the street is a completely different thing and really no a helpful comparison.

Dd was bitten v badly at nursery by another girl, she was caught biting the other girl back - dd got into a lot of trouble, she was never asked what had happened, I got a lecture from the nursery staff about how bad biting was - I was surprised, because dd hadn't been a biter as a toddler. It wasn't until she was having a bath that night that I saw the teeth marks /broken skin on her shoulder and when I asked her where the marks came from she told me the girl she had bitten had bit her, so she bit her back.

I think this is why hitting back can be a problem - your dc gets caught, they get into trouble, the other child might get comforted whilst your child is the bad one! It can be pretty hard for a small child to tell an adult this if they have been caught in the act, out of context. I teach my kids to say loudly X stop hitting me! Dh on the other hand has taught them how to throw their weight into a punch...

NotWilliamBoyd Wed 22-May-13 18:56:24

No I have not taught my DC to hit back, I will never forget the hospital visit to see the pupil who had been told to 'hit back harder' - he had done this, but the other child plus cronies lay in wait for him on his way home and badly battered him.

They were all 11.

VerySmallSqueak Wed 22-May-13 19:01:58

Vest I don't think it is an unhelpful comparison.

For example,hair pulling is reasonably common in the playground.
If a woman came up to me in the street and pulled my hair I would belt her.

I don't see why it's worse for that to be done to me as an adult than for it to be done to me as a child.

VestandKnickers Wed 22-May-13 19:10:47

My point is Squeak that children do pull hair, thump occasionally, push etc because they are still learning how to deal with their anger and frustration. Children have to learn that being physical in that way is not ok. They also have to learn how to react if a child does one of those things to them.
How often does an adult go up to another adult in the street and pull their hair or give them a slap? Certainly never happened to me. I actually don't think it would be appropriate as an adult to belt someone if they pulled your hair, but I also think it is a non-argument because I can't imagine that it would ever happen.
An adult being attacked or mugged is a totally different thing and requires a different response.

TwasBrillig Wed 22-May-13 19:12:16

Oh Not that's so horrible. How frightening that must have been.

I'm really surprised to hear all these people say 'hit back'. Isn't that how violence starts and escalates?A accidentjw nudges B in line, B does as told and 'hits back', A knowing nothing other than B hit him, then hits back, and it escalates. Where does that get anyone. Surely school won't teach to hit back and if everyone told the teacher instead it would be better?

teacherwith2kids Wed 22-May-13 19:25:22

DS was badly physically and verbally bullied in Reception.

Teaching staff only said that 'he seemed upset', but because DS is very tall and looks older than his age, and his attacker was a tiny weedy chap, i knew that telling DS to hit back would simply lead to him being told off for bullying the smaller boy...

I taught him to yell 'STOP IT' at the absolute top of his voice whenever it happendd. Teaching staff got involved (apparently the first day was almost entertaining, as DS yelled perhaps 8 or 9 times, all justifiably) and it stopped.

As a teacher myself, I know how hard it can be to identify the 'original perpetrator' when there is an issue. It is often someone who is clever with their tongue, not their fists, and may combine a small amount of physical stuff with a HUGE amount of verbal needling. Sensible victims a) walk away, b) report what is happening (I have several boys in my class who mutter various code words to me on their way into class, alerting me to low-level things going on with their known 'needlers'), and c) use their voices not their fists to resolve issues.

I am a believer in consistent messages for children - if hitting is wrong, it is always wrong, even if someone hits you first. Young children do use their fists and feet to express emotions and responses that as adults we use our voices to explain and express. As adults, our job is to teach our children a better way of managing their emotions, not to teach them an 'interim' unclear rule that in fact it is fine to hit for the moment, but, oh, not unless you are being consistently bullied and not if they are smaller than you and not if it's an accident and not....

Pozzled Wed 22-May-13 19:27:36

TwasBrillig Your scenario is exactly why I will teach my children that the first response should always be to talk. As a teacher I see an awful lot of incidents where pupil A is annoying pupil B (not hitting generally, more chasing, name calling, the odd swear word). Pupil B usually goes straight to a teacher- they almost never communicate clearly to pupil A that they don't like it and don't want to be involved in that game.

With physical violence it's obviously more serious, but I still think the first thing for the child to do should be to say very clearly that they don't like it and won't accept it. It can then be taken further if it happens again. I don't agree with hitting back, although I can see the temptation when the issue is ongoing with the same child or group.

I told mine to tell and adult or a teacher, until my dd was bullied at the age of 7 the school seemed to care less so I told her to hit back seemed to do the trick.

MisForMumNotMaid Wed 22-May-13 19:37:26

I've gone with the verbal hit back, shout at the hitter as loudly as possible 'don't hit me, its not nice'. Then if they don't back off tell an adult.

VerySmallSqueak Wed 22-May-13 19:54:20

Vest a random attack in the street is an attack on whatever level.It's nice you've not had that happen,but I have. Of course it is appropriate to strike back if randomly attacked in the street.
I understand that kids need to learn to control their emotions and deal with their anger and frustration.
(So do some men still,btw,but we don't expect a victim of dv to tolerate aggression towards them while those men master their anger and frustration)

While little johnny is mastering his anger,it is not ok for him to randomly attack other children in the meantime.It is not ok for children to have to tolerate aggression towards them when adults don't.

There is not one rule for kids and another for adults.

You have a different view and I respect that.

Shakey1500 Wed 22-May-13 20:00:31

I've told DS that if he's hit to tell a teacher straight away. If it happens again (in short space of time!) to tell the teacher again. A third time and he has my permission to hit back but have explained that it's absolutely a last resort, not great but also justified.

VBisme Wed 22-May-13 20:28:27

I do think that martial arts training is worth while.

The SDs know how to block a punch or kick, but also have licences and know that they must only ever use their skills in self defence.

pennefab Wed 22-May-13 21:40:14

I am of the loud verbal reply followed by telling an authority figure approach.

My DC was with me when someone attempted to mug me/us in car park. A very very loud, "Back off now!" In strong ("mad mommy" my DC calls it - low pitched/angry) voice and confident body language - look in eye, head up, legs apart - planted, shoulders back resulted in guy running off.

I learned it from my DCs martial arts class.

teacherwith2kids Wed 22-May-13 21:45:21


I did very similar when a burglar broke into my room when I was at university - though I was at a significant disadvantage, being a) asleep when he came in and b) in a nightie.

A really assertive, loud 'Go away! Go away AT ONCE' did the trick. Did tell authority figure (police) but tbh in a funny way it gave me much more peace of mind knowing that I had asserted myself, verbally not physically, and had dealt with the issue, than if I had gone straight to the 'authority' [which I couldn't have done straight away, the intruder was between me and the only door]

CheerfulYank Wed 22-May-13 21:51:37

If he's exhausted all other possibilities then yes, hit back and make it count.

But he has been in martial arts since he was three and could probably block, etc.

valiumredhead Thu 23-May-13 10:48:13

We tell ds that if he is hit to go and tell, if the person who hit him follows him or hits him again then he can defend himself and we will back him up if the school ring us.

After months of bullying, ds finally snapped and lamped the little sod and that was the end of that.

Chubfuddler Thu 23-May-13 10:51:54

No. Particularly as there has been DV I do not want them to think violence is ever justified. Not at 2 and 6 anyway. When they are older we can go into the grey areas, but for now "it is wrong to hit, it is always wrong" is simpler.

Chubfuddler Thu 23-May-13 10:53:31

DS is having martial arts training but it is more for confidence, calm/stress management benefits.

valiumredhead Thu 23-May-13 10:55:48

Just to clarify, ds is 12 not a little one anymore.

cory Thu 23-May-13 13:58:58

Seeing that ds was the smallest and frailest child in his year, this would have been a seriously bad idea. grin

I am very grateful to the school for teaching all the children that you had to tell an adult if somebody was being hurt and frightened. So when somebody did try to hurt him, there would always be somebody else running off to get help.

IrnBruTheNoo Thu 23-May-13 14:14:27

DH wants our DC to hit back, but I personally do not feel this is appropriate. I think the child should report it to the teacher/playground monitor, etc.

Beatrixpotty Thu 23-May-13 16:31:02

I hate fighting & I don't tell them to hit back.I've really tried to teach them not to hit at all,but I've got 3 boys and it gets a bit rough sometimes at home..Fighting in this house is always one-sided,3yr old DS1 starts on 2 yr old DS2,who retaliates if I don't intervene in time.DS1 always gets told off & time out for starting the fight but I don't discipline DS2 for retaliating so maybe I am giving him the message that it is ok?He never instigates though.Once at a soft play DS1 hit someone & they hit back harder & made him cry.The mum said"Sorry,she's been brought up to hit back" and I thought ,fair enough,DS1 started it and was embarrassed that he had.

Yes. Ive told him never start a fight. But to hit back if hit first

EarlGreyTeabag Thu 23-May-13 16:46:35

I have three teenage sons. They have always been quite physical with each other and I don't have a problem with that as that's how boys play, but I have never allowed them to hurt each other in temper.

However, outside the home me & DH take the line that they must never start a fight, they should walk away if they can, but they should defend themselves if necessary.

When DS1 was about 9 another boy at school kept picking on him & hitting him. My son, who is normally very easy going, eventually had enough of the abuse & hit the other boy back, hard. My son didn't get into trouble - the school was well aware that the other child was a bully. The boy never went near my son again.

This had the added advantage that no-one ever bulled DS2 or DS3 either, because they'd heard that DS1 had a fine punch on him.

AdmiralData Tue 28-May-13 18:56:55

I was bullied horrendously in school (would love to meet the fuckers again) and will be damned if I watch my DS go through the same bollocks. I think violence isn't the answer and honestly abhor it but if telling a teacher/responsible adult doesn't resolve an issue in the future I will be telling my DS to thump the fuckers back. It worked for me, in the end. I do however agree with the more sensible suggestions on this thread but they may not always work smile

matana Tue 28-May-13 21:03:35

When he's older and understands provocation and self defence, damn right I'll teach him to hit back, harder if necessary. I too was bullied. It stopped when I hit back.

PipPipPip Fri 07-Jun-13 23:08:38

Whoa, totally surprised that anyone would advise their kid to hurt another person!!

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now