Let’s get ready to rumble

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Dad Review by David Hawkins

One of the easiest ways to give your kids a head start in life is simply to play with them. Luckily, that’s what dads do best! Rough & tumble play has been shown to help children manage their emotions, display fewer negative behaviours, and to become more popular with their friends.

Across the next few issues of Mornington Peninsula Kids Magazine, we’re going to take a look at some simple and super fun games that you might like to try out with your kids at home.

Here’s the first one:……..

Now that autumn has arrived, and the heat of summer has disappeared, let’s look at a physical play game that will warm us up and teach our children some fundamental skills.

Wrestling is a wonderful free-for-all that allows your kids to try their best to tackle, climb, tickle, jump, roll and flop. A wresting session can take place anywhere, anytime. And everyone gets to be a winner, as wrestlers come out on top and then come crashing down.

In our house, the boys are a little bit obsessed with WWE wrestling. So, we regularly meet on mum and dad’s big bed for an official wrestling throwdown! The kids pretend to be their favourite wrestler of the day, maybe AJ Styles or John Cena. I prefer old-school roleplay and take on the tantamount title of Rowdy Roddy Piper
(if only I owned a kilt).

Whilst our wrestling doesn’t have any actual rules, there are guidelines that I (the dad) have to watch and enforce at all times. This is actually the most important part of rough and tumble play; showing your children how to play safely, without aggression and being aware of other people’s feelings.

Step 1: Pretend like a professional wrestler

It’s up to you dad to show your child how to perform amazing feats in a safe way. Keep your weight off the kids by landing on your knees and elbows. Support their weight (and their head) as you roll and flip them.

Before you know it, your child will be choreographing leg drops and power slams, without anyone getting hurt.

Step 2: Work together

A great wrestling match needs all wrestlers to play a role. Encourage your child to come up with their own moves and support their ideas. Avoid telling them what to do – instead, show them by doing it when it is your turn.

Step 3: Never get mad

Accidents will happen and little feet will probably end up kicking you right in your groin. Always remember to not lose your temper. Instead, calmly ask them to be more careful. A dad who becomes aggressive during play teaches their child to become aggressive with other children.

Step 4: Pay attention

As soon as your child expresses any negative feelings, stop wrestling and acknowledge what they are sharing with you. Give them a cuddle. Ask what is wrong. Listen.

You don’t need to wrestle for hours. A few minutes every couple of days is enough to give your child a BIG jump start for their future.

Want to up the stakes? Work with your child to make a Championship Belt for the winner, just like on TV!


David Hawkins is a Peninsula-based stay-at-home-dad who realised that he needed to improve his Dadding. So he set himself the simple task of being an Awesome Dad. He now challenges all dads to be awesome dads, by doing something out-of-the ordinary with their kids.

Peninsula Kids – Autumn 2021

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