Easier to Tame a Wild Horse than to Kick a Pony (French Edition)

What would you do if someone deliberately stepped on your lunch box that was lovingly made by your mum?

I have always thought about how to teach Mal to handle bullying in school at the playground.  Sometimes, you find parenting books that strongly disapprove the use of violence against violence. For a long time, I have thought that that is the best way, especially coming from a family and a society that believes that good kids should not fight. Tell the teacher if you want, complain to parents if you can. The big people will help solve the problem.

Being a parent now, I have come to question what I was taught. Sometimes words, reasons, complaints and non violent action just doesn’t solve the bullying problem.

Try getting a pony to do more than just carrying a pack on his back.  You can kick him, you can cajole him (with a carrot?) all you want, but he is still after all a pony that can only do so much.  On the other hand, if you get a horse, strong and wild, and you tame him to do your bidding, you get a stallion capable of doing much more.  Do I want my son to be a tamed stallion or a pony?

What do we do when we tell our kids not to push back even after warning the belligerent party ? It is ok to be bullied ? Will they grow up to be adults that don’t know how to stand up for themselves ? Will he be suppressing his feelings to the point where he no longer know or understands what is anger ? Or what will happen one day when he does lose it and does not know how to control his anger because he has almost never been there ?

We have came to an agreement that our boy should be taught how to express his anger. If and when he does goes overboard, we can teach him how to tame it and how to manage it properly.

And when it comes to playing with his peers, the Golden Rule is, Always be nice and polite, but if other kids will to be nasty, tell them you don’t like it, if they do it again, you are allowed to fight back and if necessary, use force. Every actions has consequences and one should accept the responsibility for their actions even if it is just a kid.

A lot of parents will probably disagree with us. But in today’s world, violent crime and violence persists even in Singapore, which is probably one of, if not the safest major city in the world.  We will like Malcolm to grow up being a tamed horse than a pony if a time ever comes, where he needs to defend himself or his loved ones from the realities of the world.



  1. Ann says:

    Yes, for boys I reckon action, used when necessary, speaks more than a thousand words….even in disciplining.

    Ah, but girls have to power of tears or the sweetness of manipulation to get things done their way!

    Tame horse definitely better than pony…agreed!

    Rachel : To tell the truth, we never use cane on Mal, maybe that is y he is so mild. Mastering the art of manipulation and to take advantage of our weaknesses and let it work our way is an ingenious skill but to some, they may find it too hard to bend their principles to do so

  2. Angeline says:

    powerful stuff! this was a topic I’ve recently discussed with my hubby too, and we haven’t found a solution to it… firstly, my boys have not been bullied before. secondly, we are more interested to see how they would react, with their different personalities, when the situation arises…

  3. Babynme says:

    Interesting post. Although Ryan is still young, but it’s very thought provoking. Sometimes forbidding the child to stand up for his own rights when they are young, could lead them to having low self confidence,timid, unsure and maybe even low self esteem (I think). I remembered a lot of my classmates who were naughty fellas are doing better than the nice kids who would only said yes..

  4. slavemom says:

    It’s not ez finding the best way to deal with this. Tell them to back away, worry they won’t be able to stand up for themselves in the future. Tell them to fight back, worry they’ll think violence is the solution to everything. Sigh… who said parenting is an ez job?
    Rachel : Definitely not suggesting that we should teach kids to use violence to solve everything, in fact violence does not and will not solve anything. But we believe that our son need to be taught how to stand up for himself so that he will not get trampled over. Agree that parenting is a tough job, just have to try our best.

  5. Rachel says:

    Hi Babynme,
    Interesting observation u have pointed out here. It brought back memories about the time in Singapore when my sis and I were jogging in the park and a sex maniac decided to flash his private parts at us while hiding under a tree. We were stunned for a while and when we pointed out to a passerby Male jogger, he was quick to tell us to STAY AWAY from the maniac. My sis and I were pissed and we ended up shouting and chasing the sex maniac ourselves, 2 girls! I believe there are alot of ponies in spore.

  6. domesticgoddess says:

    Hi, I chanced upon your blog. I love Paris, so straight after reading your intro, I thought ‘wow.. lucky girl!’ 🙂

    This is an interesting topic. I have 2 boys myself, 4 and 2y.o. i agree with you, that it is easier to tame a wild horse than to kick a pony. And in today’s world, it’s pertinent to raise a child who can stand up for himself.

    Does your boy understand what it means by ‘given full permission to fight back, and if necessary, use force’ and were there situations when he had done so?

    It is also interesting, I note, that several readers of your blog have commented that there should be a difference between girls and boys. Hmm..


  7. Rachel says:

    hi domesticgoddess,
    My boy understands it as
    1. when someone tries to hurt you intentionally. It is intentional when someone do it again despite warning
    2. when someone forcefully take away what is rightfully yours without permission.
    He has yet learn to master the skill.

    I think it applies to both gender but I am not expecting everyone to think like me. However, I do like to clarify that I am not suggesting teaching kids to use violence to get what they want or to solve problem.

  8. Hoonie says:

    haha.. this is a difficult issue to handle. and i think character plays an impt role.

    Like Deshawn.. i have to worry abt him bullying his friends, but for Deshane, i have to wonder how he will react when bullied. Deshann… seems like a bully himself, already terrorising his bros.

    I teach them the golden rule, “Treat others the way u want them to treat you”. and let them decide what they should do. that they should be responsible for their actions. Whining and crying doesn’t help, neither does fighting if it’s gonna ire the other to fight back. make them think what is the right thing to do. although i know at their age, being able to hold their emotions might not really work. they will have to learn as they grow. anger management. that is something that the boys have to learn.

    parenting is not an easy job. neither is growing up in a society. 🙂

    Rachel : Good that your 3 boys have brothers to practise fighting with. I am sure they will help protect each other in school. So nice!

  9. Kyels says:

    Glad to hear that you’re teaching Mal on how to stand up and fight for himself. I hate bullies and I guess there’s no way to prevent them unless their parents teach them properly. After all, charity begins from home.

  10. domesticgoddess says:

    I have been trying to teach my son but I have questions which I can’t really answer myself, at this point, so I approach this topic very lightly. My 4yo is quite an easy going child and recently he was hurt in school by 2 kids, on separate occasions. The first was hard to excuse since it wasn’t an accident (another boy attacked him with a sharp pencil and he ended up with a 6inches long scratch on his chest) but the second wasn’t intentional, so we didn’t mind so much. After all, accidents do happen and he wasn’t badly hurt (deep nail marks on his arm). All this happened in the classroom, so I wasn’t expecting him to retaliate and told him that what they did to him was wrong, but he shouldn’t react the same way even if he was upset.The thing is, he was’t even upset! He didn’t cry at all, though it sure looked like it hurt a lot (to me at least). And he said he wasn’t angry with both kids, though he didn’t like what they did.

    What I am unsure of is.. if we teach a 4yo that it is ok to fight back when they are bullied, it then becomes difficult to go into details like to what extent should they fight back? If the other kids pushed him on purpose, should he push back? If they kick him, should he do the same to them? It becomes a judgement issue and I am not sure I want to let my 4yo judge what is suitable behaviour and then bear the consequences. If he is 10 or older, maybe. Also, if the bullies are older, it may lead to serious violence that will really hurt someone. Of course, I don’t foresee him meeting older bullies since we are always around him, except in school. So for now, I am tempted to teach him to just run away if someone bullies you and you can’t use words to get him to stop and be nice.

    What are your thoughts about this? I love to hear some. 🙂

    Oops.. sorry for the long comment. Hope you don’t mind.

  11. Rachel says:

    hi domesticgoddess,
    You are right to say that most 4 year olds are not very capable of judgment. However, when should they start to learn? 10, 15 or 21 years old? Judgment is not something that can be learned overnight. Many adults lack good judgment too. But as children are expected to have little or poor judgment, it is ok for them to make mistakes. So they should make plenty of mistakes now to learn, so that they won’t be making really bad judgment errors at 21, when they are adults and have to bear full consequences for their actions. Most 4 year olds are not capable of evil. If they do pick up a tool/weapon to attack another child, they are unlikely to know the possible consequences until it happens. But older children and teenagers are very capable of evil, and that is to say, I think we need to prepare our children to deal with this reality that they may have to face one day.

    However, I would agree that if another child picks up a weapon/tool to attack your child, it is quite reasonable to ask him to run away and report the situation. That teaches him to recognize situations beyond his control and he should try to get out of it. If he is cornered, then he should probably try to wriggle his way out of the situation, with retaliation being the last resort. This would mirror the decision matrix for adults. If someone were to threaten to rob me with a knife, I would probably hand over all my valuables to keep my family and myself safe. But if I sense that his intention is to hurt us, then my actions could be very very different.

    I would be more worried about your child not being upset. He should feel upset unless the rough play is normal. And my personal opinion is that running away would become a habit that would be exploited by the bullies. That is what rock their boats. To intimidate and to see the other child distressed and running away. The bullying situation could become worse. It might also become a habit of running away from problems instead of facing them head on or finding ways to navigate around the problems. Again, these are my personal opinions.

  12. domesticgoddess says:

    Though I concur some skills are acquired through practice, I am not convinced that a 4yo is capable of certain judgements, simply due to lack of experience and very limited view of reality, human natures and the world in general. So for us, we still won’t let him make grave mistakes and learn from it. Just like, I tell him to always wait for the Green Man at traffic light and not dash across, even if the road is empty. I just don’t want him to learn to judge “ok, there is no car, or that car is very far away from me, so i can just dash across”. When he is older (not sure when), maybe. But at 4yo., no.

    We don’t encourage M (my son) to run away whenever he gets bullied. Instead we teach him to use words to ask the bully to stop the behavior. But if cornered or the bully simply won’t stop (say, someone pushes him repeatedly), then I rather he reports it if there are adults around. If he is alone, I still don’t want him to push the boy back since it may result in more serious fighting, but just leave the place. When he starts big school, I will probably redefine the boundaries more since bullying can get more traumatic as the bullies are older then. For now, most bullies he will meet at playground or school are unlikely to be malicious. I have noticed that he always stands up for himself when it comes to snatching or pushing incidents though he is never rough. Rough play is uncommon except for the normal snatching amongst play mates. But you are right to point out what worries me at times, that he wasn’t upset when he was bullied. I wondered if it is just because he thinks they aren’t malicious or he is just plain forgiving. I just can’t figure it out.

    Thanks for sharing your opinions though. Much appreciated! Cheers!

  13. Binky says:

    Thanks for sharing this post, and there are a few points that I learned from this, which I think will be useful some day when my son is a little older. I definitely want him to be the horse and stand up for himself. And I don’t disagree if he fights back after his REPEATED warnings fall on deaf ears..

  14. Grace says:

    If the bully is not too big, take his lunch box and step on it and say: “We’re even!”

    Tell him to say that his daddy knows kungfu because they are Chinese and that the bully better watch out.

    In fact, teach him a few self-defense moves. My girl has had a boy throw sand in her eyes, other toddlers being pushy towards her – and hubby and I both agree we will not tolerate others to be pushy to us. We will slowly teach her to fight back. I don’t think our (yours too) children will live their entire lives in Singapore where being safe is taken for granted. The rest of the world – other cities – are way, way, much tougher and rougher. Who knows, maybe the bully doesn’t like Asians.

    Seriously, no need to warn the bully. The act has been done. The bully now knows he can instill fear and will probably pick on Malmal again. Sorry to be so negative.

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