How Do You Teach Your Kids To Stand Up For Themselves?

My daughter is by no means a pushover. She is happy to tell you what she likes and doesn’t like, but when it comes time to stand up to her peers it appears to be a different kind of thing. Since she began preschool, I’ve tried to instill methods for her to stand up for herself. But she never wants to do it. Why?

stand up

When she was just 3-years old and still seemed like my baby, she would come home and tell me about another child who pushed her, for instance. I would ask, “what did you do?” She would look at me with her sweet, innocent eyes and say “nofing.” (Nothing.)

I said, “Caroline, you need to say ‘no pushing! That’s not nice!’ and if the person keeps doing it, tell the teacher.” She would immediately give me a look like I had just described her worst nightmare and say “No, no…I can’t say that.” When I would press her on why, she would get upset.

Her preschool teachers insist she holds her own, but what she shared with me seems to differ. This isn’t to say her teacher is full of it, I’m aware a teacher can’t see every single thing. It’s just interesting what she’s willing to put up with, in my opinion.

Now in kindergarten, I’m still trying to get her to stand up for herself. Even against her own sister! Baby Kate likes to hit when she doesn’t get her way (something else we’re working on) and I often catch Kate in the act and Caroline bracing for impact. I always yell at Caroline first. “Caroline, don’t let her hit you!! You can move or put your hand or arm up and stop her! DO. NOT. LET. HER. HIT. YOU!” And then I move forward on correcting Kate.

Learning about the kids who tease her makes my heart break because she’s either not aware they are teasing her or she simply isn’t willing to stand up for herself. I’m not sure which it is.

I just don’t know what to do. As a person who was bullied, I’m fearful she’s headed down the same path and, naturally, I want to set her up to be successful and do better than I, but I don’t know how to do that. Her kindergarten teacher suggested I do a superhero craft with her and explain words are her super power. It could work. She loves crafts!

Please help a momma out! How are you teaching your kids to stand up for themselves?