We here at DadsRights.org never promote violence, and we believe that alternative dispute resolution, without resorting to physical contact, is always the best way, if at all possible. But what about those situations where it has already escalated and your child has no other option but to defend themselves? Here’s what not to do: Don’t tell your child to kick the other child in their nether regions!
Recently, we became aware of a situation with a 12-year-old boy being aggressive with a 10-year-old girl. According to the girl’s mother, the kids get along for the most part, but every few weeks, the boy slaps, punches or kicks the girl. This week the boy told his coach that the girl had kicked him. Two other girls backed him up. The girl swears they were lying, but the director of their sports program put her family on notice.
Mom is furious!
Of course, other mothers rallied around the girl’s mom to offer their support. Then an alarming trend started. Grown women began encouraging this mom to coach her daughter to kick the boy in the crotch whenever he came near her.
Not only is there a chance this girl is part of this problem, but kicking a boy that age (or any age) in the testicles is painful and dangerous. These mothers might say, “So what? Kicking her daughter is painful too!” It is, but a kick to the groin can cause tearing to the scrotum or testicular torsion. These kinds of injuries can permanently damage a boy’s reproductive system. That’s too severe for the first line of defense.
This post is for all the parents out there who want to empower their kids to defend themselves without putting anyone at serious risk.
Walk With Purpose
It’s easy for kids to feel afraid when they’re worried about an altercation, and this fear often comes across in their body language. They avoid eye contact, they shrink into themselves and often look to the ground. This winds a bully up in anticipation of scaring them even more. Instead, teach your kids to walk with purpose – head up, making eye contact with people and then looking away toward other things at eye level. They should stay focused on their destination. Not only will this make your child a less attractive target for bullies, but it will make them feel more empowered.
An episode of Headline News’ The Predator Test covered this child-friendly diversion tactic. It’s the ol’ sand-in-the-face trick popular in Westerns (and the occasional anime). If kids are worried about running into a bully, they can put items in their pockets – coins, rice, cough drops – they can throw at the person’s face as a distraction.
Beat the Drum
The HNL segment touched on this technique as well. Sometimes, physical confrontation is inevitable. The other person is in your face, and there’s nowhere to run. Self-defense is your only option.
Considering the damage that can occur to a child’s hands – or face! – you want to prevent a “knuckle sandwich” and teach your kids to use the fleshy backsides of their hands for protection instead. Why? They can break a finger or knuckle if they directly punch someone. Also, children often fight with other children in situations where they both consider themselves in the right. They’re kids! Ending the situation with as few injuries as possible is in everyone’s best interest.
Safer movements are demonstrated by a technique called, “Beat the Drum,” modeled here. First, children are shown the proper way to make two fists (thumbs on the outside of their fingers) and then how to pummel an attacker, first by playing an imaginary drum in front of them and then moving upward focusing on the throat, eyes and nose. The extra benefit? Studies showed the technique was also effective against an attempted kidnapping.
No one wants to think of their child going up against a bully, but if it happens, they should be prepared. Your co-parent might react harshly if you seem to be promoting violence, so it’s important to coach your kids in peaceful dispute resolution in addition to appropriate ways to protect themselves. Staying focused, using diversions and minimizing serious injury are all part of a successful self-defense plan for kids.
What bully situations have your kids navigated? What defense methods have helped? Leave your comments below and help other parents out!