One of my sons had come home from school recently after being pushed repeatedly on the playground during a soccer game at recess.
He disengaged and withdrew from the situation, which seemed like a fine choice to me. But he knew – even at a young age – that this (or something like it) could very well happen again. He asked me…what do I do?
I developed the words, warning, and whomp process for a client whose child was having similar issues at school. The process accomplished several things, but it most importantly gives a child permission to protect his/her personal safety in a responsible way.
Here’s how it works: (1) another kid is aggressive and inappropriately, physically contacting a child, (2) the targeted child raises his/her hands and uses “words” to this effect, “Whoa, that’s not ok.” (3) The targeted child continues, “Do that again, and I will fight back.” and (4) If provoked again, the child unleashes a pre-determined and practiced punch combination on a loop until the altercation is over.
This process is now a necessity – given the upside-down nature of how many schools administer justice (or lack therein). Children are not equally guilt of fighting – there is a party that started the physical altercation and a party that responded. Schools want kids to walk away from confrontation, and that’s fine – up to the point that the kid walking away becomes a doormat for others to pick on (which is often how this works – kids that don’t fight back are more likely to be picked on more often and by more and varied antagonists).
My son told me he was worried about the school’s response to any physical self-protection. I simply told him to let me worry about that. In the end, he now knows I support his right to self-protection and will defend him with the school administration (should that be necessary). Give your kids permission to protect themselves – and pick a solid punch combination to practice everyday.