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My eldest daughter doesn't even start school until September and already I'm feeling anxiety about all the unsavoury characters we'll encounter. And I'm not talking about fellow pupils, but fellow parents of the aggressive and gobby variety...
I picked up my nephew from school today and my heart sank to hear the inane drivel spouting from what can only be described as ignorant mouths.
'If they hit you, hit em back, I don't care what the teacher says, just send 'em to me and I'll sort 'em out.' Barked a big, burly dad.
I cringed at the endless aggressive chatter, as his sidekicks chipped in with their words of agreement, encouraging the heated conversation. He was being so loud and indiscreet, every little ear could hear is every single angry word.
'...that's what my dad told me to do when I was a kid and it never did me no harm...' he gabbled on.
Now I'm all for children sticking up for themselves, but surely there is a way this can be achieved without instigating full blown fisticuffs in the playground.
I know the world can be a harsh place, but if we encourage our children to participate in aggressive behaviour towards eachother, then aren't we simply perpetuating the very environment we want to protect them from?
If I'm honest I just wish everybody was nice and we all got along, but that's a pretty naive stance to take.
Growing up I had my fair share of of playground bullies. I was raised in a predominantly white area in Essex. My siblings and I made up a very small number of black children in our school, I was the only black girl in my year group throughout my entire school life. This difference undoubtedly saw us become the target for some negative behaviour.
At four I was slapped in the face for telling a girl I had a goldfish. What's that all about?When I told my mum she was livid and warned me to never let anybody put their hands on me again. I wasn't encouraged to hit anyone back, but there was a change in me that is hard to explain, so from that day onwards no one ever did ....well apart from the time when I was nine and a girl who was a black belt in karate punched me in the mouth for no apparent reason or the horrid boy down the road who punched me in the stomach and ran off, leaving me crying and winded.
These were all terrible incidents at the time, but they haven't scarred me for life and my parents taught me to stick up for myself and they'd inform the school of these episodes too.
Although I am none the worse for my experiences I don't want my children to go through anything like this. I know times are different and racism isn't as overt as when I was at school, but I will be firmly teaching my children the art of confidence, by walking tall, holding their little heads high and using an assertive voice whenever talking with anyone. I will also tell them that if anyone ever touches them they must ALWAYS tell mummy or daddy as well as another adult if we are not around at the time, so the aggressor will never get away with their unacceptable actions. I'm sure there will be many more lessons learnt along the way too, but this is as good a start as any.
How do you teach your children to stick up for themselves?