Child Behavior Community
14.2k Members
377493 tn?1356505749

Teaching a young child to stand up for himself

For the most part my husband and I are on the same page when it comes to parenting, but we are at odds on the subject of how to teach our son how to stick up for himself (he is 2 months shy of 3) and how to respond when he is afraid of something.

For example - another child hits him.  I am teaching him that the right response is to tell the other child no hitting.  And he does a good job of it.  He will stand his ground, shake his little finger in the other childs face and tell him "you don't hit me" in a very stern voice (it's kinda cute..lol).  My husband thinks it is perfectly acceptable to teach him to hit back.  He believes I am teaching our child to run away.  We don't hit at home, and I dislike any sort of violence, so I strongly disagree.  

The other issue is when our little boy is scared.  He is currently going through what I would call a hesitant stage.  My former little daredevil is not as quick to do some of the things he used to.  Example - a bunch of kids were climbing a hill and sliding down an icy patch - kind of like sledding without the sled. Our son saw them, and insisted on trying.  Well, he climbed that hill, took one look and changed his mind.  He began to cry, his arms outstretched wanting me to come get him.  I gave him a minute, he was getting more upset, so I went and got him (keep in mind the kids doing this were significantly older then him, 6+).  My husband thinks I should have waited at the bottom and yelled at him to come down on his own.  

I know this all sounds silly, but we are actually arguing about this.  There are so many great contributors on this forum who's opinions I respect, so I thought I would throw it out and see what you all think.  Please be honest with me as our goal is to raise a strong confident child, who also always feels supported.  I know, I worry about seemingly minor things...I guess thats the mom in me..ha.  What do you all think?
5 Responses
144586 tn?1284669764
You are right. You husband is wrong. Period.

I think you handled things most appropriately.

Just my two cents worth.

You did ask for an opinion.

The rules for adults are different from the rules for childhood. And your boy will understand the difference when he reaches majority. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a scaredy-cat when you are six or seven. Or even eight or nine. And you can't go around punching people out over trivia. It's called civilization.

You son should be taught the appropriate time to fight is when it is necessary to save another person's life or to intervene to prevent another from doing someone grievous harm. In all other instances, it is best to simply walk away.
377493 tn?1356505749
Thank you for the response Caregiver, and I do appreciate your honest opinion.  I find it almost fascinating how different my husband and I see this issue.  For example, we are starting our son in a martial arts program (Little Tigers) for toddlers.  My goal in this is because I believe it teaches discipline and self confidence, plus it's great exercise for mind and body.  My husband thinks it will enable him to beat up anyone that messes with him..sigh.  My husband is on the smaller side for a man and was bullied in high school.  I suspect this is where this is coming from as he is a really good man who is a first class father.  I believe that children will find anything to bully another child about, and that the best gift we can give our son is self confidence (we are trying) and that that is his best weapon against it.  
134578 tn?1546634665
If a kid is able to look someone in the face and say "You don't hit me," that is brave.  It is not running away.  All teaching a kid to hit does is convince him that the only way to handle aggression is by more overt aggression, a one-note approach when there are many notes that can be played, and an approach that only escalates things.  That approach didn't really work for the complexities of our times even when we were growing up, and it certainly isn't going to work for the 21st century.  It sounds like his preschool and everyone else who is teaching him besides his dad, are in tune with that.  He will be better prepared for modern aggressions to come if he knows the way all other kids his age are being taught to address aggression.  And it works better anyway.  All hauling off and slugging someone does is make them madder than they were before.

As for the hill and the sliding, if a 2-almost-3 year old cries and holds out his arms for his parent, he gets his parent.  If he does this at 12, then perhaps a gentle discussion of how to handle fear is in order.  But at 2 or 3, it's normal.  Your husband is jumping the gun, your son is 2.

I think it's great that he has a dad who will stand at the bottom of a hill and encourage him.  Oops, you didn't say dad did that.  It would be great if his dad had slid down the hill with his son in his arms.  Oops, didn't hear dad did that.  If Daddy wasn't there to act out how much fun it was to slide on a patch of ice, Daddy does not get to critique other people who were there.  If Daddy was there and his motivation for telling you to yell to your son to suck it up and do it was worrying about whether his son like he was being babied, shame on Daddy.
189897 tn?1441130118
  I agree completely with all of the above.  And I was raised totally "old school" in the late 40's and early 50's.  We fought a lot.  Waste of time.  Besides its like I'd tell the kids on the playground.  Its the kid who hits back that gets seen and then they get into trouble.  And you are absolutely right that self confidence is the best gift that you can give your son!
377493 tn?1356505749
Your all making me feel much more confident in the approach I am and wish to continue taking.  Thank you.  I do feel the need to say though that my husband really does mean well.  He also does not spank or hit our child, he doesn't yell at him and he would do anything for him.  He just is carrying the scars of some serious bullying when he was young.  The problem is that in my husbands case he was a shy kid who didn't have any self confidence.  There are a number of reasons for that that we talk about now.  He is just so scared that our boy will also become a victim, and wants him to be able to stand up for himself.  His motives are pure, his way of thinking perhaps a bit off.  

Thanks again for the honest opinions.  I will use many of the comments in coming discussions over this issue.  I truly do appreciate it.
Have an Answer?
Top Children's Health Answerers
189897 tn?1441130118
San Pedro, CA
Learn About Top Answerers
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
Fearing autism, many parents aren't vaccinating their kids. Can doctors reverse this dangerous trend?
Is a gluten-free diet right for you?
We answer your top questions about the flu vaccine.
Learn which over-the-counter medicines are safe for you and your baby
Yummy eats that will keep your child healthy and happy
Healing home remedies for common ailments