My seven year old is a very sensitive and innocent child who never picks on or hits other children. As a mother, I was proud of this fact…till it did not feel good anymore. My daughter returned from school each day with the eraser and a couple of pencils missing from her pencil box. I lamented her for her carelessness but when it happened without fail for a week, I confronted her. At first, she said she just lost them but when I prodded further, she told me that the child she was sitting with in class, snatched them from her. I asked her why she did not tell the teacher. She said the girl threatened to falsely complain about her to the teacher. I had a word with the class teacher who sorted out the matter and I dismissed it as a solitary incident.
Some days ago, she refused to accompany her dad and me to a friend’s house who has two sons-one my daughter’s age and the other younger to her by three years. I was surprised as she usually is very happy to visit our friends who have kids. On being forced to come along, she said the younger boy hit her and that was why she did not want to go there. She said she even told the boy’s mother who scolded him but it did not deter him. I got irritated and asked her why she did not hit back, to which she replied teary-eyed,’It is not good to hit.’ I did not know what to say. She was right in saying that but was it okay for her to take a beating? I reassured her that I would talk to the child’s mother but wasn’t sure of the solution to the problem.
My patience crossed all limits when she came home running last evening, howling with pain, because the boy next door had bit her for no reason. As I tended to her bruise, I was overwhelmed with the worry that my child was beginning to become the one that gets pushed around. I went and talked to the boy’s mother who apologised vehemently for her son’s behaviour but it did not pacify me. I came home and sat with my daughter. I could not let her lose her confidence and feel that she was helpless and could not confront bullies.
I told her that she must not be the one to hit anyone first but she also must learn to defend herself. If a child hit her, she could hit back to defend herself. It was not wrong. She was surprised when she heard this and maybe you are too. I know it is not good to encourage violence and that is the reason why I always told her not to hit anyone, she could complain to an elder. But maybe my advice was backfiring. She was losing confidence and what if she got stuck in a situation where there was no elder around to help her? I don’t want my daughter to be a meek girl who loses her self-esteem due to bullying. The world is not a kind place and when she grows up, she will have to stand up for herself. I want her to start doing that now.
– I told her to ask for help if an adult was around and if not, to shout at the bully if he/she hit her. If she is hit hard or hit a second time around, she must defend herself, even if it means hitting back with all her strength.
– She must confide in me if any such thing happens and not be scared of threats from the bully. I assured her that I would do my best to sort out the problem.
– I told her that bullying is very common and she must not think she is responsible for it in any way. It is the child who is troubling her who is at fault.
I don’t know how many of you agree with me on this but I think I would rather have my daughter get a black eye than a low self-esteem.
Author’s note: This article of mine also appeared on