Punching While Defending a Hurt Friend (PreK)

Updated on May 18, 2011
E.S. asks from Sunnyvale, CA
11 answers

Looking discussion on how to handle the following situation:
Kid A and B were physical and fighting.
Kid B gets hurt: is on the ground and crying.
Kid C steps over Kid B and punches Kid A and shoves him away.
(Kid C and B are best friends).
Kids A and C were punished for punching with a Time out.

My ds is Kid C. I agree with him being punished, punching is not OK. Being 4, he knows that hitting is wrong however, I don't think he has the social maturity for a good way to handle this. And in fact, he's said that he did the right thing, so the self-rightousness is an issue. It would be terribly hard to leave your bf while he's getting beat to go get a teacher. I want to talk with him about alternate ways to resolve the situation. He has a little brother, so I want to lay the ground work for future incidents.

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So What Happened?

Thanks everyone for your differing points of view. It's a very nuanced situation, to support his act without praising it. I've told him:
1) You do stick up for your friends and I'm proud of you for doing that, and,
2) You're not supposed to hit people either, so what do you do instead (tell the teacher; yell to stop)
In the future, I'll add to the message of #2, because there's some subtlety to that one. There is the stranger/kidnapper issue where he should fight like a wildcat, there's a bullying issue, and there is also the mugger situation where I don't want him to fight, but to yell. He'll also need to learn to use his brains not his brawn.


More Answers


answers from Washington DC on

we teach our kids that there are times to fight and times not to fight. The times they can are:

1. In self defense
2. in training
3. in defense of others

Your kid did the RIGHT thing. What a good little friend he is!! He should not have been put in time out for defending his friend

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

It's a tough one. Explain to him that while what he did was a good thing by helping to protect his friend, HOW he did it wasn't, hitting is against school rules and will get him in trouble (time out). If he chooses to break the rule he'll have to suffer the consequence. The best thing to do, I think, at this age is to teach him to get/yell for the teacher, she couldn't have been too far.

Teaching your kids to stand up for themselves is a good thing, sometimes they have to get physical to get the bully to stop and the consequence is worth taking.

In my opinion, kids A B and C should have been given timeouts, it's too bad that B was hurt but, all three were fighting. But, it's in the past now.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

I might be in the minority but I'm teaching my daughter to stand up for herself and her little sister as we parents nor the teachers can always protect them from possible "bullies" 24/7. I am teaching her though to talk first and if the said "bully" continues to hit, kick or push, then she needs to hit that person as hard as she can. I also tell her to never start a fight. So therefore, I applaud your son. He was sticking up for someone who is the victim. Sure hitting is not right, but to me it doesn't mean there are exceptions. It reminds me of that country song "Coward of the County." You can google the lyrics.

As a child, I was the one who was always bullied and my parents never taught me to fight back or that it's okay to fight back. I wish they did.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I think kid C sounds amazing! It takes a lot of courage to stand up to someone who is hitting/punching and get in the middle of a fight! I would be proud if child C was mine!

Wouldn't you want your son to do exactly what he did if it was his little brother on the ground getting hit? I would!

~This is what I have taught ALL my kids:
Never hit anyone first, EVER! ....but if someone hits you, you have our permission to hit them back. And absolutely step in and stop ANYONE from hurting/hitting others...ESPECIALLY your siblings!

*My husband and I agree that we never want any of our kids to be punching bags for anyone...regardless of school policies! I am not naive enough to believe that running and being a tattle-tale will stop a bully from picking on you, if anything it has the potential to make the bullying worse. With all the bullying that happens these days (not that it is new, I had bullys at my schools) I want my kids to stand up for themselves. I would be content with the school punishment but wouldn't punish my child any further for standing up for himself or anyone else. A 'talk' afterward would be sufficient enough.

Asking or telling a child to step away and let their friend or anyone else continue to get a beating while they run and get a teacher is not right, IMHO.

*I have 6 boys, ages 19-5 and so far (knock on some wood) we have not had to deal with any fighting...we've come close but they were handled by them using their brain instead of their muscles!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

PreK - what the heck is going on in that school?? And why would he have to "go get" a teacher - there is a punching match and the teacher doesn't see it happening right away?

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

It's not okay to hit someone. Your son is old enough to start having the conversation about "what to do when"... I would take this as a teachable moment and talk with him about what to do when you or someone else is being hurt/bullied. When I used to run groups, this is what we talked about:
- First and foremost, walk away and find an adult
- If you can't get away, yell as loud as you can "I NEED AN ADULT!" or "STOP- HELP!"
- If you can't get away and there are no adults around to hear you, punch the kid as hard as you can and take the punishment b/c at least you know he probably won't do it again and other potential bullies know you won't take it.

**Side note, if the kid gets to "step 3", there is a supervision issue at school! It is hard to leave your BF to go find a teacher, but it is also the right thing to do now and in later years. Extreme example, but if his BF gets mugged, I would hope your son would know to "use his voice" and yell for someone to call the police and not try to attack the attacker and get hurt in the process. Teach him now with the "easy stuff" so he'll know how to handle himself as an adult!**

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Redding on

Kid C is very courageous. Hitting is not the norm for him. One thing I've learned being the mom of an 11 yr old boy that has found himself in similar situations is that the world of boys is different.

They sometimes do need to defend themselves or their friend. The bullying will often continue if they don't and the consequences of that is far more damaging to them than hitting only when pushed into it.

Work on getting him to tell a teacher but if he can't, he can't. I wouldn't punish him for standing up for his friend. He's very brave and that should be praised also.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Not sure the age of the group, but this is a continuing issue with boys. It starts around 5th grade and carries on through middle school. My son has been the kid where no one steps in. And he has been the kid to step in. I say leave it be. He’s not a trouble maker, and he’s not a bully right? Kids fight, especially boys. So what if he gets in trouble. What matters is how you handle it. You don't want your kid to be the bystander who does nothing. He saw a way to stop it and he took it. Tell him although you don't think fighting is the best way to handle conflict, you understand why he did it and you are not going to punish him. I would remind him to always assess the situation before jumping in, look for weapons, other big kids ready to assist the offender etc. And yes sometimes there is no time to go get help. Let it go, unless you see a pattern. There will be bigger fish to fry in his life.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

I'm think that your son did the right thing and that he shouldn't have been punished at all. The world needs more people like your son willing to stand up for the person who needs it. I have taught my kids that they are a team and they don't let other people pick on their brother or sister. They by no means are allowed to go picking fights with people, but defending themselves or their siblings is perfectly acceptable in my book, as well as defending someone weaker then they are. He didn't go over board on kid A - he simply did what he needed to do to get kid A off of kid B ~ I think that he should be commended.

What's that old saying...."Evil prevails when good men do NOTHING"

Just my opinion......



answers from Minneapolis on

The thing to do is keep telling him that it is not nice and it hurts the other person. I haven't run into the physical hurting with my kids but I have had to explain to my twins why saying certain words were not nice (they both said that their brother was stupid, he has special needs that are complicated) and after saying it a couple of times they realized what they were doing.



answers from Sacramento on

Do you have any idea how the teacher handled the time out? I think it was appropriate for the two boys to have been sent to sit out for a while to cool down - and to give the teacher a chance to check on kid B. However, I also think the teacher needed to have a talk with the boys about their behavior. First off, it doesn't sound like kid B was totally in the right either, as he was involved in the initial fighting. Secondly, it seems that the teacher needed to affirm your son's desire to defend his friend, and at the same time try to teach him (and the other boys) appropriate ways to handle such a situation. Yes, at four they are not mature enough to have these skills. That is what teachers and parents are supposed to be helping them learn.
As for your part in this, I think all you can do at this time is to affirm your son for wanting to defend his friend, but also try to work with him on what he might have done differently to have achieved his goal in a better way.
Oh! and as for having to leave his friend to go get a teacher... that should not have really been a big issue. Preschool teachers should be near enough and aware enough of what's happening, that he should have been able to call out to the teacher from where he was if the teacher wasn't immediately seeing the problem.

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