Comments 4

To Punch Or Not To Punch


Is it ever acceptable for a parent to tell their child to hit another child?

Some say it depends.

Depends on what? I ask.

The circumstances, they may reply.

I’m confused. Very confused.

I’m torn between two Schools of Thought.

The first School of Thought vouches for never hitting back. They recommend to the child, tell an adult. Their motto, Violence breeds violence.

The second School of Thought endorses hitting back… harder. It stops the bully from coming back for more flesh.

What if the child throwing the punch is not a bully but a child who has trouble expressing feelings with words?

Now, should we all agree that this dilemma is a difficult dilemma?

My question is driven by an article tweeted by Pamela Druckerman called Empathy, not Expulsion, for Preschoolers at Risk (author Sara Neufeld).

The article is not directly related to my question. Nevertheless, It got me thinking about a recent tricky problem my husband and I had to deal with.

One of our daughters was punched by a boy on three different occasions.

The first time, I showed compassion towards the boy and his family.The boy has trouble expressing his feelings. When the trouble strikes, he strikes too.With his fists. Unluckily, on this day, my daughter was the closest object to him.

It happened again. This time, I warned my daughter to stay away from him. My compassion was wearing thin. I felt she was becoming his punch-bag.

The third time, I had no empathy left. I was fuming.

In my anger, I almost coached my meek and introverted daughter how to punch him back.

I did not.

The Christian in me took over. Besides, my darling daughter is too gentle to punch back.

I was worried. I was worried because I was saying to my daughter it’s okay being someone’s punch-bag.

Growing up in Nigeria, I was taught in the school of hitting back to hit back.

I remember this girl who was constantly on my case. She was a bully. She had no communication problems like the boy hitting my daughter.

One day, this bully hit me very hard. Bawling, I ran to my mum laying it on thick. With irritation, my mum looked me in the eyes, told me to go back and punch her. She made it categorically clear; she was not fighting my battles for me. She said I was capable.

I did not go back outside. I was too chicken for my tormentor. In my undeveloped mind, she was as big as the giant in “Jack and the Beanstalk”. If Jack had the good judgment to run away from his giant, I must run away from my bully too.

My mother’s advice stayed with me.

Have I had to use it? Not really. I have had to use my gob instead of my fist.
Would I recommend my mum’s advice to my daughters?
I don’t know. Should I?

I live in England where children are not to hit back. Would this advice encourage vultures to come back for more flesh?

This entry was posted in: Parenting


At 23, I left Nigeria where I was born and moved to England.In England, I got my Law degree and married John. I like things to be tidy and organised but as a working mum with young daughters, that is hard to achieve. But thanks to John, I have coped so far. If you'd to know more, it's all on my about page.


  1. I would say never teach a child to hit back, even though sometimes that can be counter intuitive to us as mums.
    Condoning violent, aggressive behaviour at any age is laying a foundation for domestic abuse- which men suffer too.
    Some parents would say “no, they’re too young for that” but when we consider the sense of satisfaction and achievement that perhaps comes from successfully ending a playground battle with fists, we are simply telling our children that that’s the answer.


  2. Dear britishasianwoman, thank you for your comment.
    I agree, we should never teach our children to hit back. On the other hand, if they don’t hit back, is that not a message of acceptance to their tormentor? And even, themselves?


  3. First reaction, child please hit back, two wrongs may not make a right but it sure will prevent a further wrong. Second and more well thought of reaction, child please hit back especially when there is reason to believe that the first hitting was unprovoked and undeserved and might likely continue if not checked. Third reaction grudgingly, child do not hit back, report to an adult and remove yourself from harm’s way.


    • Its hard, isn’t it?. As you know, parenting is wisdom. We learn not to repeat the mistakes our own parents made with us. When you know better, you do better. In this particular case, I am struggling.


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