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What to Teach Children About Fighting

by Joe Lawrence | December 9th, 2015 | Elementary, Social

little girl (400x400)“I do not want to see you starting a fight, but you better end it!” This was the advice of my father when I was in school; however, is it still relevant today?

I was am the youngest of five and have three older brothers, fighting was not a foreign concept to me. I fought every day with them and even had many backyard bouts with others in the neighborhood. A couple of times someone picked a fight with me when I wanted nothing to do with them. However, the words of my father sparked my fire and I ended it. In fact, I had only lost one fist fight ever.

Now, I have kids of my own and I have seriously debated what to teach them about fighting. After 17 years in the military and 25 years of studying martial arts, I have learned that you never really win a fight. You always walk away with bruises, cuts, or worse. Not to mention, most of the reasons I fought were trivial and could have been averted with a rational conversation.

Fortunately, my daughter is a big sweetheart and is very social with others. She is always trying to make people feel included so I truly only worry about bullies. Most bullies can be diffused if you just tell them to stop and travel with a partner. They are typically looking for the weak sheep to pick on. For my daughter, we ensure we do all we can to boost and build her self-esteem so that she is always exuding confidence. Confident people are not seen as weak sheep.

I will still teach her how to fight and practice martial arts with her, but I am going to teach her to avoid fights and get out of the situation with her mind first. Only fight when backed into a corner.

I will have her learn conflict resolution tactics like breaking the cycle. For example, you say something to me and I take it the wrong way and respond with emotion. You then feed off of my emotion and respond with more vigor. Next thing you know we are entering each other’s personal spaces and things get very heated and then violence comes next. If at any point, one of us backed off and brought the temperature of the situation back to normal, there could be a peaceful resolution. This is breaking the cycle.

To be able to break the cycle, you have to be confident and willing to be the bigger person. Many people are afraid of this, because they think they are cowering away. That is why I will teach my kids martial arts and boost their self-esteem. When you know you can win, you have no need to fight. When you know who you are inside will not be impacted, you are not afraid to back away.

Fighting should only be a last resort option and not a tool to save face.

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