I looked after my six year old niece, MW, at one time. She was a happy child and enjoyed playing with her friends. However, she had an issue with a slightly older boy who beat her almost every day when they were playing.
I got tired of having to comfort MW and so one day I told her: “Next time Jeff beats you, slap him back hard!” MW responded that Jeff would just beat her again if she did that. She had a point, so I told her that she should slap him and then run straight home.
A couple of weeks later I asked MW if everything was OK because she had not mentioned Jeff’s beatings of late. Her response was that she had slapped him back and was ready to run home, but Jeff had instead started crying. MW had no problem with Jeff from that day on.
Another niece, who was seven, had problems with a boy at school. I gave her the successful and proven remedy I had given MW, but NT said fighting was wrong. I did not want to go and complain at school because I wanted NT to find ways to defend herself. I had noticed that NT could shout at people if she was in the mood, so I told her to berate the boy next time he beat or threatened her. Well, one day, NT gave me a great report – she had not only shouted at the boy into crying, but she had also screamed down the boy’s big brother who had tried to intervene. That was the last time NT had a problem with the boy.
I could not fight or scream at people when I was young, but I had my own weapons. The main one was ignoring people – they just ceased to exist to me. One girl who tried to bully me told me that ignoring her was more painful than being insulted or beaten. Apparently, my technique worked. My other weapon was using one liners. I do not curse, but I just said one liners that were really mean. The other person, on the other hand, would say a lot of things and still be angry several days later while I had gotten over it already. Actually, I sometimes look back at my words and wonder how no one ever beat the living daylight out of me! Thankfully, I deal with conflict in a more mature way as an adult.
I believe that we should teach children to defend themselves first before we intervene. An older cousin scolded me for telling MW to fight and said talking things over helps. Being nice and civil is good, but it does does not always work. Children should be taught to fight when necessary. Of course, they should also tell their parents what is going on and these can intervene when needed.
What are your views on equipping children to defend themselves?