When is it ok to fight back?

Recently, my middle son told us about an altercation he had at his summer enrichment program where another student slapped him in the face. He was fine and moreover he handled the situation perfectly. He didn’t respond violently but instead told a teacher what happened and the student in question was reprimanded. Case closed. Or is it?

I come from a generation that resolved conflicts on the playground with their fists. Before I continue, let me just state very clearly that I believe the efforts on behalf of the modern school system to minimize violence and bullying is a great step forward from when I was in school. That said, I dont believe bullying has been eradicated and I dont think there is any substitute for being able to stand up for yourself.

So the question is, when is it ok to fight back?

I had a conversation with my son about his altercation and I praised him for not reacting violently. Then I asked him if he thought it might happen again. He wasn’t sure. This is where things get complicated.

I want to prepare him for the world and there wont always be a teacher to run to.

What I told him was this. Kids who bully other kids typically have problems in their own lives that are causing them to lash out at other kids. It is a courageous thing to be able to empathize with these kids who are lashing out. But also, you can’t just let people slap you in the face.

I dont want my kid fighting. But more than that, I dont want my kid being afraid to fight. But even more than that, I dont want my kid to be a bully.

I’m confident that this issue is being handled by the teaching staff. We have amazing teachers here who genuinely care and who go the extra mile to build a positive, educational culture. But someday he will be in the big bad world with people who didn’t learn the value of playing nice with others.

Someday he might need to fight back and I want him to be prepared for that day if it comes.

So what’s a parent to do? Drop your thoughts in the comments, let’s start the conversation.