27 June 2023
Wrestling with your kids has many positive benefits for both them and you. It’s perfectly safe, and in fact is encouraged, as long as you’re sensible and bear a few things in mind.
There are two things that you could mean by “wrestling”. On one hand, there’s the rough play and “roughhousing” that’s common for parents to do with their children. This includes throwing kids around, tickling them, letting them climb on your back and so on. The other type of wrestling is the official sport of wrestling, so Greco-Roman, freestyle, Pro-Wrestling (think WWE) and even judo or sumo.
If you’re going to indulge in some official Greco-Roman wrestling, or fancy yourself the next John Cena, The Rock or (depending on your age) Hulk Hogan, you might want to be careful. In the correct setting, the sport of wrestling is actually very safe and results in very few injuries (less than other common sports such as football or hockey). But official wrestling moves need to be learned and carried out properly. If you’re wanting to try out some of this type of wrestling at home, it’s advisable to attend some classes first.
Wrestling as rough play is very good for children. It builds bonds, helps them understand boundaries, gives a great all-round workout and, most importantly for everyone involved, is a lot of fun. It’s very safe to wrestle with your kids this way, as long as you’re being sensible and understand your child’s limits. For example, some young children enjoy being thrown up in the air whereas others don’t. You wouldn’t want to throw them high with a low ceiling, though, and it wouldn’t be a good idea to throw a two-month-old in this way. As long as you take time to learn and understand both your child’s physical limits and their preferences then there’s no end to the rough play you can enjoy.
The biggest risk when wrestling with kids is size difference. Be aware that they’re not as durable or strong as you might think and many grapples and holds could hurt them. Think about the location, too. It’s a good idea to move any sharp edges away or put some pillows down. This can actually add to the fun as you set out and stage your own ring or arena.
It’s also worth putting in some ground rules, too. Wrestling can be great for letting off steam and exploring boundaries for your child. It’s also a way for them to come to understand and manage their own aggression, which can be tough, especially if their heightened emotions are impairing their ability to control themselves and think clearly. It's worth coming up with some ground rules that you both agree on, and a few signals for time out and rest breaks. You could even time the “bouts” to avoid wrestling for too long without a break. Again this can be fun as it will give you a chance to work on your wrestling announcer’s voice - “Ding, ding. Round one!”