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Sarah Braesch lives in the D.C. metro area with her husband, boy/girl twins and two very loud cats. Sarah blogs at Sarah and the Goon Squad, Draft Day Suit and various other places. Her confessional blog, Sarah and the Goon Squad, documents the everyday life of raising a family in a way that is both empathetic and hysterical.

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The Kid Down the Street

By Goon Squad Sarah |

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. I have a problem. The little kid down the street keeps hurting my children.

A few weeks ago he punched and kicked my son. It didn’t lead to a fight because my son is almost eight and is very tall this other kid just turned five and is a little guy. My son apparently does actually listen to us sometimes and didn’t fight back.

Of course, the scrappy little thing hurt him.

Yesterday this same kid hit my daughter with a stick. He hit her pretty hard. I was angry. My knee jerk reaction, you know, the one you have when you can hear the screaming outside from inside your house, the reaction you have when you first realize that your child is hurt because some other little punk hit her with a sharp stick was to bring all of my children inside and say “Every time we play with Alex somebody gets hurt, so we aren’t going to play with Alex anymore.”

I don’t think that is a bad plan, except he is a neighborhood kid. Reason would lead my children to understand that if they are out in the neighborhood playing with their friends and Alex and his sister show up, my kids would have to come home and that just doesn’t seem fair.

Deep down I don’t really think he is a bad kid. I just think he is under-supervised for his age and has a bunch of pent up aggression. Maybe he needs more physical activity, maybe he has bad reactions to artificial coloring, or maybe he needs a punching bag. I don’t know. None of it is really my place to suggest. I don’t really know his parents. I’ve met his Au Pair a few times. He just shows up in my yard every once in a while. Is he an aspiring bully or just a little kid with a short fuse and a Napoleon complex? I’m not sure.

This is a tricky thing.

I want to protect my kids. I want them to be able to defend themselves. I don’t want them beating up on kindergarteners.

My accountant (she is also my friend, it just makes me feel important to say ‘my accountant’ so I ran with it) says she taught her kids the three times rule. If a kid comes at you once, you do nothing. Twice, you hold your ground. The third time you are allowed to hit back. She promised her sons that if they followed the three times rule she would always back them up.

Of course she had to amend it to “The three times but no hitting girls ever rule.”

I have a daughter, so I figure if she plays by the three times rule she can hit boys or girls. I am going to have to decide what to tell my son.

In a perfect world nobody would be hitting anybody regardless of gender or grade level, but this world is imperfect. Parenting isn’t an exact science. I don’t know what is right. I know hitting is wrong and I know that standing up for yourself is right and sometimes you can’t do both of those things at the same time.

How do you handle it when other kids become physically aggressive with your children?



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Read more from me on Sarah and the Goon Squad and Draft Day Suit
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More of me on That’s Right. You Heard Me:
I Told My Kids I was Santa
Sure Breast is Best, but Take it Easy
80s Movie Lines I Use on My Kids


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About Goon Squad Sarah


Goon Squad Sarah

Sarah Braesch lives in the D.C. metro area with her husband, boy/girl twins and two very loud cats. Her confessional blog, Sarah and the Goon Squad, documents the everyday life of raising a family in a way that is both empathetic and hysterical. Read bio and latest posts → Read Sarah's latest posts →

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7 thoughts on “The Kid Down the Street

  1. Laurie says:

    Sometimes it’s just violence, not bullying. And yes, I would have them remove themselves from a situation if a person who attacked each of them showed up. At some point the kids choosing to play with the aggressor will hopefully get the message and decide to be with the people who don’t, er, hit them with sticks or or punch them. And if they don’t I don’t want to hang out with them either. If someone punched me and they showed up again, damn straight I’d leave. And no it may not be comfortable, but social stuff rarely is. The message that “we don’t hang out with people who put their hands on us inappropriately” is too important, I think.

    I’d also tell his caregiver/s immediately. And it’s nice of you to care why he’s doing what he’s doing, but it really doesn’t matter. Hurting people is hurting people, and why not have consequences? (I.e., “you hit me. That is not cool. I’ll be over there, with people who don’t hit me.” Seems fair.) The major responsibility shouldn’t be on other kids to decide how to respond. (Nothing wrong with having that conversation, but why go into it knowing you may have to defend yourself against a little kid? That’s just a drag. )

  2. daniel says:

    What’s your relationship with this kid? With the parents?

    I’d have a conversation with the parents before enabling and rules of reaction. They may have their own method of dealing with a known issue. Or not.

  3. nycrystal says:

    Long time twitter lurker but had to speak up on this. I totally agree with your accountant: first time ask them to stop, second time tell an adult, if it happens a third time all bets are off and defend yourself. Sometimes unfortunately even if you involve parents they don’t do anything and I believe that kids will eventually have to learn to defend themselves to live in the real world and words don’t always work. I have also told my children that I will back them up if they follow these rules and will not get in trouble. Much luck to you in however you choose to resolve this.

  4. Korinthia Klein says:

    That’s tough. I would probably talk to the parents or the Au Pair just to make sure they know what’s happening, because sometimes kids act differently in public than they do at home, and if my kids were hurting people I would want to know. But the kid is only five? I would probably supervise out in the yard and include the kid (and any other that’s around) in some activity and take the chance to explain the yard rules. In our yard there is no pointing toy guns at other people, getting people wet without permission, or stepping on ants. And of course no hitting or hurting. A lot of times that’s enough, to have an adult clearly state what’s expected, to keep even rough kids in line. There was one older kid on our block who was a bit rough and dangerous, but he didn’t have a dad, and my husband just kind of took him under his wing a little and included him a bit in stuff we did outside and that changed everything. He became very protective of our kids instead, and he appreciated not only a clear stating of the rules in our yard but the opportunity to live up to those expectations. Whenever possible kids deserve another chance.

  5. Kendra says:

    We also have the three times rule. We’ve taught our kids that they have to ask the person to stop and then tell them to stop. The third time, they are to stand up for themselves by hitting or pushing if necessary and we’ll back them up. We don’t have a no hitting girls rule. Being a girl doesn’t give anyone the right to be a bully. I don’t like double standards and I hate that it’s ok to hit a boy because he’s being a bully, but my son can’t stand up to himself because the bully is a girl. We girls shouldn’t get a “get out of jail free” card because we have a uterus. We’ve had several discussions about why we don’t hit girls outside this specific situation and I’m sure we’ll have that conversation many many times in the years to come. We haven’t had that be an issue yet for my son.

  6. Loretta Merritt says:

    I would ask your kids what they were doing right before they got hit/kicked etc. You may be surprised by the answer.

  7. 3Hdqfw wow, awesome post.Really thank you! Really Great.

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