One mom is making one message very clear: don’t touch her child.
Blogger Mandi Castle recently wrote a post about an incident involving her six-year-old daughter, and some boys who were bullying her at school.
According to her post, which has now gone viral, the Dallas-based mom talked about a previous piece her friend wrote titled, The Reason Why My Daughter May Punch Your Son, and thought she wouldn’t have to deal with bullying for the next few years.
But Castle says, one day her daughter came up to her and told her she was being bullied.
“‘Bullied?’ I questioned. I don’t like the word. I think it’s overused and thrown around, and I have a hard time thinking that my sassy, very independent little girl could possibly be bullied, so I questioned her a little. She said some boys were chasing her on the playground. I told her not to play with them anymore if they bugged her, and that was that. We went on with our day,” she wrote.
Later that evening, her daughter brought up the bullies again. This time, she told them they had touched her butt on the playground and called her “chubby.”
“That’s right. Two boys put their hands on my daughter, and when she told them to stop, they called her fat and made fun of her. Let that sink in for a second. Want to know where they learned that? I have an idea,” she continued. “The more I listened, the angrier I got. She showed me on my own butt what they were doing, and it can only be described as groping, but she didn’t understand that.”
Lessons to her daughter
Castle said she told her daughter if the bullies continued, she had every right to “kick them in their business.”
“I explained that she might end up in the principal’s office and that we would deal with it if we had to, but I made sure she knew that she was empowered to defend herself,” she wrote.
WATCH: Dealing with cyber-bullying
And she points out, the bullies are only showing learned behaviour.
“Our job as a mother and as a father is to make sure your sons (and daughters) know better. I can tell you that if I learned that my son had touched a girl the way these boys touched my daughter or spoke to another child the way they did, there would be some serious consequences at our home.”
Social media users react
Online, several readers commented on Castle’s methods. Many of them also talked about similar experiences with their own children.
“This happened to my daughter when she was about eight or nine. I gave her permission to handle the situation in the same way. Then, I went to school and explained the situation to the teacher, and asked if I could speak with the two boys in the hallway. The last thing I did was call both of their mothers. We never had any problems after that,” one reader wrote.
“I’m here for all of it. Taught my step-daughter self-defence in our unfinished basement, and the knee to the [groin] was part of the lesson,” another one commented.
On Facebook, some noted they would raise their sons to react to these bullies as well.
“As a mother of a son, I will raise him to kick boys like that in the balls for your daughters. I agree with this a million per cent. If kids this young are doing things like this, what will they be doing as teenagers? This is what scares me about all our children,” user Jessica Eidle wrote.
Speaking with Popsugar, Castle adds this was a teaching moment for all parents.
“The more I thought about it, I realized I needed to use this as a lesson, one where I empower her to take ownership of her body and defend herself against unwanted touching. I have brushed off unwanted touching from men my whole life, and in that moment, I wanted my daughter to understand she has every right to say no and to defend herself.”
Is this the right teaching method?
Vancouver-based parenting coach Julie Romanowski, says she would never recommend teaching children to hit other children.
“However, I would recommend teaching children the importance of setting solid personal boundaries and knowing how to protect yourself against possible threats that may arise at any given time,” she tells Global News. “I would also suggest doing it in a way that helps a child feel prepared and secure, not anxious and worried about something bad happening.”
But in the case of Castle, she says context is important.
“This is a fine line where some children may interpret it as being able to kick anyone in the balls or hurt someone because they made you upset. Parents would have to really emphasize the ‘self-regulation’ part which I think is the determining factor of making this positive information for a child.”
She adds if your child does approach you about bullying, always take it seriously.
READ MORE: How to talk to your child about bullying
“Many times, these incidents are ‘swept under the rug’ or just shrugged off with ‘boys will be boys’ or ‘that’s kids for yah’,” she continues. “I don’t believe this is the best approach as a child will likely take that reaction from the adult or teacher and possibly internalize it as self-worth issue and connect it to them not having enough value to be heard.”
Romanowski says there are several ways to teach your child self-defence.
“The key here to teaching children about self-defence is to have a discussion about it in detail, role model the positive behaviour yourself and what it is like when someone does cross your boundaries,” she says.
Explain to your children what these boundaries are, and who to contact if there is unwanted touching.
“This discussion and the building of important skills, will likely be required throughout a child’s entire life.”