The phone call came like a bolt of lightning from a cloudless sky: My grade school son was in the principal’s office and my wife and I needed to go in immediately for a meeting. My heart sank and I wondered what my boy had done. “Your son put his hands on and shoved another student who fell,” the principal said. “But he was picking on my little brother,” my son said sincerely. “I told him to stop and then he grabbed him, so I pushed him away.”
At this point, I was ready to fight for my son’s right to stand his ground, even if it violated a school rule. As parents, we must teach kids to stand up for themselves and others. Not only was he defending his brother, but he was standing on principle. Sometimes, that’s not the popular thing to do. Doing the right thing isn’t always easy, and kids succumb to peer or societal pressure. While teaching kids to stand up for themselves can be challenging, there are several reasons we need to do it. Here are 5 reasons to teach kids to stand their ground.
1. Kids who stand their ground are honest.
Being honest isn’t always easy or popular, but teaching kids to stand up for themselves or others is at the core of living a good and virtuous life. Kids who stand their ground aren’t afraid to tell inconvenient truths no matter the situation. They learn quickly there is one truth and telling it doesn’t often have social or material benefits. But it builds character and keeps kids morally grounded.
2. Kids who stand their ground can face the consequences.
In today’s world, where our culture teaches a victim mentality, letting our kids experience the consequences of their actions puts them on a path to future success in school, work, and relationships. When our kids take responsibility, they learn to own the outcomes and the results of their actions instead of blaming others or denying reality. My son understood he’d be held accountable for laying his hands on another student, but he knew it was right to stand his ground, defend his brother, and end the bullying.When our kids take responsibility, they learn to own the outcomes and the results of their actions.
3. Kids who stand their ground learn to be courageous.
Despite the looming punishment and scorn that accompanied being sent to the principal’s office, my son stood his ground. It took courage for him to do what he did—and we want our kids to be courageous. Throughout their lives, they’ll have reasons to assert themselves when it’s scary but necessary to do so. By teaching kids to stand their ground now, we equip them to have courage when the world around them might prefer that they cower.
4. Kids who stand their ground promote justice.
My son knew it wasn’t fair for someone to pick on his brother. In fact, we had a similar incident with him some months later when someone else was picking on a girl with special needs. Injustice happens every day, but kids who stand their ground are gaining skills to put a stop to it. By learning now to speak up when they see someone being treated unfairly, our kids are equipped for life to notice injustice and to do something about it.
5. Kids who stand their ground learn humility.
My daughter once came to the defense of a friend who had been accused of vandalism at her school. She spoke up for her, telling officials her friend could not have done it for a multitude of reasons. When it was revealed that her school friend indeed had committed the act, my daughter had to admit she had been wrong. She accepted that she had put too much faith in the belief that her friend couldn’t have committed the vandalism. She thought she could fix the situation by standing her ground and defending her friend but instead learned a truth about herself: Sometimes, her judgment is clouded. And she learned that even when you stand your ground, you must sometimes admit you’re wrong.
Sound off: What are some other ways teaching kids to stand up for themselves can be good for them?
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “When have you had to stand up for yourself? What was the result?”