“Never Hit Back”

During my tenure as a martial arts instructor, I’ve sat with many intelligent, involved, caring parents who’ve instilled a “never hit” code in their children.   Eventually, after months or years of bullying and torment, when their child’s spirit is all but broken, they’ve sought me out in hopes I could undo the damage. All respect to parents who are trying their best to raise enlightened children in this world-but the true test of any philosophy is how it preforms when the rubber hits the road.

Toddlers often express anger and frustration by lashing out; that’s inappropriate and must be corrected.  As a child grows older and gains a broader base of experiences, being constrained by a “never hit”  rule will teach him some very poor lessons.  Never Hit is usually coupled with “Tell A Grown-Up”.   That’s all well and good, but if running and telling is a kids only recourse to resolving interpersonal problems, we’ve conditioned him to be an informant as well as a victim.

The “never hit” policy creates as many dilemmas as it’s supposed to solve.  It makes a kid (or a grownup for that matter) completely reliant on outside forces to intervene and clear up conflict. It assumes that either reason and kindness can win over and change the behavior of an aggressor, or demands that some “authority” step in and use its power to protect them.

PACIFISM: A philosophy of non-violence, preached by those who rely on other people killing and dying to defend their privilege to hold that philosophy.

A 4 year old who pushes down a playmate and takes his ball isn’t the incarnation of evil.  He’s trying to figure out how the world operates and where he fits in. If aggression works, it’ll be repeated.  The kid who winds up on the floor crying learns things as well.  Mean kids get what they want and bad behavior often goes unpunished.  Maybe they learn that ‘might makes right’, and start to bully kids smaller or weaker than they are.  Or they might start to feel insecure and powerless.  None of that’s good.

Allowing the use of physical force as an option of last resort (coupled with “how-to” training) gives a kid the courage to employ other strategies of conflict resolution  . It also makes those more nuanced strategies more effective; an antagonist can sense that it’s in their best interest to back off.

I’ve noticed, time and time again, that once a kid develops the functional fighting skills, is taught guidelines about when using force is appropriate, and is given the autonomy to make their own choices, they find it easier to avoid confrontations.  They have the confidence to defuse an ugly situation without resorting to violence.

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