stand up for your views - or not

When to Stand up for Your Views–and When Not To

Dear Mr. Dad: With all the talk about #MeToo these days, I want to teach my children about the importance of standing up for themselves and what they believe in. When do you think is the right time to start, and how should I do it?

A: Teaching children to stand up for themselves and what they believe in is very important. But although the two ideas are related, they’re also very different and need to be discussed separately.

Let’s start with standing up for yourself. Most parents talk to their children about when and where others may touch them. We teach them that it’s not okay for anyone (except a doctor) to touch any area of their body that’s covered by a swim suit. And we tell them that if someone touches them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable, they should say NO and get away from that person as quickly as possible.  Similarly, most of us talk to our kids about standing up for themselves if they’re being bullied—how to avoid situations where they may be picked on, how to respond, when and how to ask for help, and so on.

You can start having standing-up-for-yourself conversations with kids as young as three or four, but keep in mind that it’s not a one-and-done talk. As the child’s ability to understand the difference between right and wrong grows, you’ll need to revisit the issue in an age-appropriate way.

As I mentioned above, teaching children to stand up for what they believe in is very different, and in my view, shouldn’t be taught until children are much older. When? Only when they’re mature enough to understand that they need to respect the rights of other people to stand up for their own beliefs.


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Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash


Armin Brott

View posts by Armin Brott
Armin Brott is the proud father of three, a former U.S. Marine, a best-selling author, radio host, speaker, and one of the country’s leading experts on fatherhood. He writes frequently about fatherhood, families, and men's health. Read more about Armin or visit his website, You can also connect via social media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest,  and Linkedin.

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