yesterday, my 3 and a half year old son got into a fight, in front of my eyes, and he got whupped, too. I have been very careful to teach my son to avoid using violence to settle differences, and I am trying hard to keep him from being an overly violent kid. I think that I am doing a good job with that. my son seems to be very strong and very well coordinated for his age, and I figure he will be very strong as he gets older, so I would like to make damn well sure he is not a bully. on the other hand, I have eoncouraged him to stand up for his rigths, and to be willing to use moderate force to protect his space and his rights. this has been a very difficult balencing act. my intention was that, as he got older, I would send him to train in a dojo and work with him quite a bit myself to teach him some of the things that I know. yesterday, he was playing by himself, building something out of lego, while we were gettign ready to leave his gym class. a boy in his gym class, who is 5, and a good head and shoulders taller than him, came and tried to take some of his blocks. we are friendly with the family and my wife is a good friend of the boys mother, and I also know that the boy takes karate. it was obvious, from where I sat, that the boy was doing it maliciously, in order to bug my son. my son told him several times that the lego was his, and asked him to go away. the other boy took some lego and held it under my sons nose, very close and agressivly and taunted him. My son popped him a few blows to the top of the head, with an open hand, and the other kid gave my son a head butt that basically ended the whole thing. my son was very upset and crying, but I also had to tel him that he shouldn't have hit the other boy first, as well. first, although I was purposfully not getting involved in order to see how my son resolved the situation, it was very painful for me to see my son so upset, and to have him feel that this was so unfair, and to have him feel that I didn't stand up for him. second, I am not sure if now I should (as opposed to waiting a few years) teach him to roll up his first and how to hit more affectivly. I don't know if it is better to let him get bashed around a bit, or if I should put some effort into giving him the tools that will prevent it. any thoughts?