The actress recalled the anecdote on a Tuesday episode of EllenTube’s Mom Confessions which occurred when her 6-year-old daughter Wyatt was younger. “There was a little kid in my kid’s preschool that wasn’t very kind and pushed my daughter,” she explained. “My daughter came back and was like, ‘Such and such little kiddo pushed me.’”
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Kunis responded with: “Did you push her back?” and the answer was no. “And I was like, ‘You push her back next time,’” she said. “‘You push her back and say, no thank you, and you walk away.’”
However, when Kunis caught the look on Kutcher’s face, it was apparent that he disagreed with her tactic. Still, the actress stuck to her mama bear instincts. “But I was like, “You stand up for yourself and say no thank you. Don’t push her off of a ladder, off of a swing or off of a slide, but on the ground, even Steven, you push ’em back.’”
Looking back, says Kunis, “I’d say that that’s a parenting fail.” The couple also share 4-year-old son, Dimitri.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, around age three, kids tend to communicate with less physical aggression because they’ve honed certain abilities like taking turns. However, there will be inevitable moments when kids get physical. “When that happens, restrain them from hurting others, and if they don’t calm down quickly, move them away from the other children,” advises the organization. “Talk to them about her feelings and try to determine why they’re so upset. Let them know you understand and accept her feelings, but make it clear that physically attacking another child is not a good way to express these emotions.”
But what if someone else hits your kid? That’s tricker to answer. One Irish psychologist went viral in 2016 for his advice, published in the Irish Independent. “In my experience, and the experience of many of the youngsters that I have worked with, if an initial physical attack is not met with some degree of physical response, then it tends to happen again,” he wrote. “If another child discovers that they can push someone around, they often continue to do so.”
Parenting expert Dr. Deborah Gilboa commented on the advice in a Today interview. “Responding physically to physical attacks is not the right first response,” she said. “However, I must agree with Coleman in that we cannot allow children to become victimized. If a child tries a verbal deflection and is met with physical threats, he or she needs to know that they have the right to defend themselves physically.”
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