Bullying Prevention Month: Teaching My Infant Self-Defense

Eleven months.

It’s a proud moment in a dad’s life to learn that while under the care of another adult, your son elbow jabbed another kid who was hitting him on the head. And that is exactly what happened.  My eleven month old son defended himself against a bully’s repeated attacks. Interestingly enough, he and “the bully” are now friends.

My son taught the bully to respect him by putting him in his place. That’s my boy.

October is National Bullying Prevention Month. What better way for me to celebrate as a dad than to know my daily wrestling routines with my son have paid off? I play the big scary monster who hides behind the couch and charges towards him to give him a big “daddy hug.” It’s a way for him to test his strength against mine, as he knows I’m no real danger to him. I’m simply his training coach.

Why do men love sports? Playing sports is like “playing war.”

At the end of the day, no one really gets hurt too badly but the players get to engage their masculine strength (and strategies) against other “warriors.” Another thing it reminds me of is the way that dogs “play fight.” It’s their natural way of preparing for an attack by a larger dog or some kind of other serious physical threat.

So why should things be any different with my (not-so) little man? It’s simply an instinct for me to want to wrestle him and that, accordingly, he enjoys the challenge. I’m preparing for him to defend himself from another kid trying to pick on him. What I am not doing is simply teaching him violence for the sake of violence.

Preventing bullying means a lot of things. But ultimately, I’ve yet to talk to one father out there who is okay with his son not defending himself against being physically attacked by a peer.

Bullies attack those who they perceive as weak because they themselves are weak in some way; also because they have a lack of respect for others. I vow to teach my son that he is strong, both in spirit and in body. That may mean that he has to teach the bully to respect him by fighting back.

Sometimes words (and corporate policies) prevent bullying. Other times, a good ole fashioned elbow jab does the trick.

Passing the Mic:

Do you encourage your son to fight the bully in the name of self-defense? Or is my approach a perfect example of “bad parenting?”

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  1. by Kim

    On October 28, 2011 at 9:53 am

    My husband and I do the same with our daughter (2.5 yrs old). We have a chihuahua that jumps on her every day when we come home and she she cries about it all the time. We tel her she needs to learn how to tell the dog no and get down, and to physically push the dog down. I asked her one day what she’s going to do if someone at school pushes her. My husband pushes her sometimes-playfully, or gives her a playful hit on the arm. Sometimes she plays back and other times she gets upset, whining. I tell her if she doesn’t want to play rough with daddy, to tell him she doesn’t want to play rought and stop, or that if daddy pushes her and she doesn’t like it she needs to tell him ‘no, don’t push me,’ and if he does it again, push him back. She’s not going to be a big girl, I’m 5’2″ and my husband 5’5″ so we want her to learn to fight back if she’s being picked on

  2. by Nick Shell

    On October 28, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    Kim, that’s cool. I was actually pretty curious to know the “daughter version” of my story. Very interesting :)