So If You Teach Your Child to Hit Back...

Updated on May 24, 2013
T.S. asks from Hayward, CA
26 answers you also teach them to:
spit back?
swear/name call back?
steal, lie, cheat back?
I don't really get the thinking on this. Just because another kid does something is no reason for my child to do the same thing. In fact it should be a lesson in what NOT to do.
If our schools, day cares, workplaces don't allow people to hit each other why do so many parents teach their kids it's ok?

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

Oh wow I guess I struck a nerve. I didn't realize kids needed to defend themselves, I thought that's what the adults were for. Maybe it depends on where you live. I live in an urban environment, so most kids aren't generally running around unsupervised and vulnerable, they are at school or daycare or after school care when they aren't at home. Maybe it's different in the country and suburbs, I don't know.
Also my kids are now middle and high school age. We haven't dealt with hitting or any other physical aggression since they were like 5 and 6, when they are still learning to use their words. We deal a lot more with verbal abuse, teasing, taunting, stuff like that, I guess because it's harder to catch kids in the act.
But hitting? No, that's easy, it's usually an automatic suspension.
And to answer someone's question about a coworker coming up and hitting me and what would I do? Give me a break people don't do that!!! Of course if I was attacked by a criminal (robber, rapist) I would fight back with all my might, and my kids know to kick and hit and scream if someone tries to grab them, but a coworker?!?! I would get the hell away from them and call the cops and press them with assault charges. What kind of world do you live in where people do this at work?

Featured Answers



answers from Raleigh on

It's ok in the act of self defense. I tell my kids NEVER hit first. But it someone hits them, first tell the teacher. If that doesn't help, and they are cornered, or being touched inappropriately, then they have my permission to go to it.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

There is a difference between a verbal attack and a physical attack. My kids definitely have the right to defend themselves. That does not mean they can hit every time they are hit, but if it's a continuous act of hitting, they absolutely can hit back. They can not spit back, but if they are getting spit on continuously, they can hit back then too. Spit can be just as harmful as a hit.

There is a big difference between defending oneself from an attack and a retaliatory hit.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Lynchburg on

I told my daughter that if someone hit her, to take up for herself and hit them back. She was told not to start fights and not to bully other kids. She was told if someone bullies her not to be a punching bag or a doormat.

4 moms found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Houston on

What kind of back a$$ward way of thinking is this?

You speak as if parents in general are ok with our kids going up to some random person and giving that person a punch or whack out of the clear blue sky.

I hope to GOD noone ever hits your children. If they are hit, please come back on here and let us know how gracefully you handled it.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I teach my son he can DEFEND himself. That does not mean, that he can hit back every time he is hit. That means if someone is trying to harm him, or hitting him and won't stop and he has to hit to get away...fine. I don't teach him to fight, squabble, or otherwise. I teach him it's OK to protect his himself, if he is getting injured or unsafe.

BIG difference then just "teaching a child to hit back."

If someone was beating me up, I would protect and defend myself. That is what I teach my son. I have NEVER taught to "hit back" or retaliate against something that is stupid and not a threat. He tries to walk away first, but if leaving and words don't stop better believe he has the RIGHT to make sure he isn't further harmed.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Williamsport on

Interesting. Has someone allowed their chid to hit yours back or something?

I teach my kids it's OK to hit back. The only one who has had to was my son when he was 2 1/2 (he's now 5) who was being pushed and hit DAILY in the gym daycare by a three-year-old whose mom did nothing about it. The daycare's time outs also didn't stop the behavior. My son would cry and be scared to go in every day. Darn right if no one else will discipline that kid my kid is allowed to let nature take it's course: People fight back when attacked, so bullies beware. This is why bullies target kids who won't fight back. After my son pushed the kid down with his fists once (didn't quite pop him as we had rehearsed), the kid left him alone.

In Tae Kwon Do, my kids are also taught to fight back, but ONLY AFTER fair warning has been given to aggressors to stop physical attacks.

This is not something you need to worry about if your child doesn't hit people. And effective discipline does keep kids from hitting. I have 3 non-hitters.

So. If a kid comes up to your child, slugs him in the face, and there is no adult around to help, and the child is going to continue the attack right then and there or another time, your child would never be allowed to hit back? How is this empowering your child?

As for swearing back?...meh, maybe, but not a t super young ages. Steal lie cheat back? NO, Never. Those are not behaviors that will hurt my child immediately and require defense, nor are they behaviors that are ever allowed.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I agree with most of the other responses in that it's not about teaching to hit back, but defending yourself.

I think comparing it to stealing, lying etc is one: like comparing apples and oranges and two: minimizing why most kids need to hit BACK, which is b/c they were hit FIRST.

Is this in response to my previous question and the responses I received?

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Wichita Falls on

The point is to stand up for yourself, not to pick a fight.

Most bullies are cowards at heart an only pick on kids that won't fight back. And fight back should always be stressed as a last option, but still an option.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I work in Jr. High. I obviously do not counsel my students to hit each other. However. Nothing stops an aggressive Jr high bully quicker then a swift, hard elbow to the ribs or punch the arm. This is just the way boys work. The meekest, nerdiest boy can put a stop to an 8th grade a--hole quickly and permanently. I've seen it time and again. Its tried and true.

And it is often worth the suspension.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

"We" or at least I, teach my kids to hit back so that they will not become someone's victim. Bullys are looking for the kid who won't stand up for themselves. Hate to say it, but giving as good as you get is sometimes the ONLY way to get through to a bully.

I'm sure I've never had to deal with my child being spat on, but if she were to tell me that happened, I would tell her that next time she should knock the snot out of whoever spat on her.

Workplaces, schools, daycares don't allow hitting, but they sure do allow self-defense. That's what we're advocating to our children - self-defense not aggression.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Salinas on

In the interest of defending themselves it is totally different than spitting, lying, stealing or cheating.

I have girls so our conversations on this matter are sometimes about a quick verbal comeback or a remark that will put an aggressive, mean kid in thier place. Having a few zingers in their vocabulary is a good defense against the cruelties of girls. I think feeling confident in defending yourself physically or verbally is an important life skill. It's rarely needed but invaluable at certain moments.

What would you suggest a kid do at the moment someone is physically attacking them?

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

you can't compare it to stealing, lying or cheating. It's self defense. You don't need to self defend if someone else is cheating or lying to you. We teach our kids they are allowed to hit or fight back in self defense, training, or defense of others. It's never to start a fight or hit someone else first. We tell them if someone hits you, you first tell them to stop. If they don't stop, then they can hit them back hard enough to get them to stop.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I don't teach my kids to hit back, I teach my kids to defend themselves, where hitting for the fun of it is unacceptable but if you are defending yourself and that is the only option AFTER all the other options have been exhausted (telling the other person to stop, telling an adult, or just walking away) then it is fair game. Now spitting, swearing, name calling, making fun of others, cheating, lying, those are another subject, there is NO if and or buts about that, those are unacceptable in my eyes, of course everyone has their own way of thinking and doing things,

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I have always told my children when they started school, that if anyone would come up and start a fight and hit them out of anger or to provoke long as they are not the first ones to throw the punch then they better hit back and finish. I will not stand to have my child hit during a fight and have them not do anything in return.
I am not sure if this is the point that you are reaching for but to teach toddlers this is not a good thing unless it happens repeatedly. My nephew who is 2 has/had a bad habit of biting when he was mad. I would put him in time out, tap his mouth and tell him no, or take him away from the situation. He then started to seek out my daughter and bite her for no reason. I finally had her bite him back...not hard just hard enough to show him it hurts. He has not done it since.

When it is to defend yourself I am all for it, but there must also be other choices that have been used first.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

My kids are only taught to hit to defend. There really is no other reason. If someone hits you or tries to, you walk away. Makes them look the fool anyway so the kids laugh at the aggressor. Far more effective if you want to be left alone.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

No, it doesn't work for everything.
But if someone is hitting you and has not stopped by verbally telling them to cut it out, then hitting them back will give them the incentive they need to quit.
Otherwise you're telling your kid it's ok for them to be someones punching bag.
It's just NOT ok to keep taking it.
A teacher or grown up will not always be there to run interference and as it is - a whole lot of complaints come across as tattling - the grown ups get tired of dealing with it and then they don't step in.

%50 of the kids in my son's taekwondo class are girls and some of them are WICKED at sparring - they get into it and enjoy it.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Two wrongs don't make a Right!

There are other ways to not be bullied, with out that type of retialiation.

When I was in high school, I was de-booked .. I put my foot down , with my authortian voice and the person who debooked me picked up the books. I never was picked on agian. because I stood up to her in the right way.

There are other ways than Tit for tat situations.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Birsdsfreakmeout! Girl, I smiled when I read your words, "Go to town on you"! I have not heard that in decades! I loved it!

Yes, I taught my son to fight back and as a teacher I WISH some kids would knock out the bullies! Bullies are sent to the counselor who simply coddle them. They rule the school. Parents LET THEM HIT BACK, TAKE THE SUSPENSION but have a stress free rest of the year. Believe me, I see what you don't see at school!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i never taught my boys to hit. i worked with them to NOT hit.
but sometimes they did. sometimes it was good that they did. they weren't under my eyes all the time (terrible, i know!) and sometimes they encountered bullies. i didn't want 'em fighting, but i certainly don't and didn't have any problems with them defending themselves.
i got called to school a time or two for each of them. in every case they were verifiably defending themselves. that was in the saner days before zero tolerance, so no suspensions.
i just don't think that blanket rules make sense. almost all the time, hitting is not acceptable.
until it's necessary.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I have taught my kids to treat others as they'd like to be treated, but I gotta say ... My son (6.5) has been picking on his little sister (3.5) unmercifully the last month or so. The other day, I finally got so sick of it that I told her (in front of him) that what he does to her, she has full permission to do back to him. We've had a peaceful last 2 days. He hasn't hit her, yelled at her, taken anything away from her, etc.

While I don't encourage that at school (I'm very tell-an-adult!), our kids absolutely need to know that it's ok to defend themselves when the adult supervision or school system fails them. Unfortunately, there are many schools, etc that don't do enough to control the bullying, and the kids who do the bullying key in on this.

Also unfortunately, you're probably going to start seeing it more as the kids from the currently detached parenting households get older.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

WHAT? Where is this coming from?

I have taught my children to defend themselves. If they get hit - they have the right to defend themselves. However, since they are in Martial Arts - they typically don't get messed with. And again - my kids have manners and are well-liked in school - not only by students by teachers...

So what prompted this?

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Because they think it's ok and it's easier than teaching a child to do what is right, not what everyone else does. I suspect that there are an unfortunate number of adults who don't hit/spit/curse at work or in the public arena ONLY because there would be 'consequences' - NOT because those things are wrong to do. I also feel that professional sports foster this attitude as well. Apparently it is perfectly fine for athletes to beat each other up at work. Whenever the 'what should I do when my infant/toddler bites?' question is posted here - some absurd number of people advise the poster to bite the child back.

WAY too many encounters between adults end in death or the hospital because the person who is hit then hits back, someone pulls out a gun or a knife and what should have ended as a verbal argument ends with someone dead. And that happens in middle school too. I would want my son to walk away way sooner than I would want him to hit back against the wrong kid and end up dead.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I don't get this either. I never felt the need to teach my children to "defend" themselves, other than against strangers.
Around here, physical violence is not a problem, but teasing, gossip and cyber bullying is, especially once they hit middle school. I focus on teaching them how to deal with THAT.
Oh, and I am in the suburbs, wealthy suburbs, for what that's worth.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

most young children hit at some point. They don't have the verbal skills or ability and its out of frustration. When they're old enough, they utilize other skills. If my child is being repeatedly hit, yes, I would give them permission to defend themselves. Instigating or throwing the first punch is a different scenerio. Standing up to or for someone else is different.
The others: spitting, stealing, etc. can be easily walked away from without doing physical harm to anyone. I do want my children to stand up for themselves and for their friends.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I teach first grade and my motto is - wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it. Right is right even if no one is doing it. I also and reinforce daily the golden rule - treat others the way you want to be treated. That wi hopefully make for a better future for everyone.


answers from Houston on

Well, with boys we feel they should be able to handle themselves and not be the brunt of bullying but at the same time we don't want them just knocking people out. It is hard bc there just isn't enough teacher presence on a playground to solve every squabble and stuff goes down fast between kids, like if you have three boys for instance!! :). My husband got picked on a lot as a kid and was in tons of fights. This really affects a child's self esteem. So as an adult he began taking martial arts and now our oldest son is taking it. We took the approach of teaching our boys that the best thing is to avoid a fight if at all possible bc you have nothing to prove to anyone but if you end up in one, you can handle yourself and ideally end the fight quickly.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions