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Self Defense Against Rough Play and Tickling

Self Defense Against Rough Play and Tickling

"Oh, he just loves it when he arrives! With all that rough and tumble rough play and tickling s/he simply had no self-defence against it."

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"Isn't it funny the first thing she does as soon as he arrives is hide. It's so cute."

"She just laughs and laughs till she is in tears when she comes around, she just loves her tickles."

It's always fun when that favourite uncle or auntie or friend comes around you just know the kids are going to love it. There is plenty of rough play and all that tickling.


One of the things that I often see from well-meaning but misguided adults is the attempt to gain a child's favour by tickling or worse still by rough play.

Have you ever considered that the child may not really like it? Maybe they are putting up with it. Maybe that game of "Hide and Seek" they play is not a game at all to them but self-protection. Maybe they desperately hope that they are not found.

It may be just a game to them and I certainly don't want to stop the fun, but have you ever taken the time to find out from the child if they would like to set dome boundaries? Does their stop mean just that STOP? Is every adult that comes into your home taught to respect a child's STOP?

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What would happen if you show you cared enough for a child to talk to them and get them to set the rule. I think you might be amazed. Children are at your mercy. Do you really think that they won't love you if you show them respect enough to help them feel safe?

I'm willing to bet that if you just take a little time to help children set boundaries for you to play in you are going to be more favoured than any other adults hands down. And does it really matter to you that much if all the child wants to do is talk? Is rough play or tickling so important to you?

Imagine walking into a room with your favourite child and the first thing they do is come up to you and take you by the hand and lead you over to their play area to talk or even be invited to play. How honoured would you be? How precious would be that moment?

It's More Than Just The Child's Response To You

It's More Than Just The Child's Response To You. It's also about what you teach the child.

I've seen adults walk into a room, immediately pick up a child under 2 rough him up (without hurting him after all this is fun and you don't want to hurt anybody) then put the child down. Then as soon as the child approaches start it all up again. The child loves it. But a few minutes later when the adults want to stop the child tries to continue and gets into trouble for it.

As a Judo instructor maybe I'm a little more sensitive than others but consider this: it's more than just playing with adults, when the child plays with other children and tries to play rough they get into trouble for that too.

Why is the child getting into trouble for what the adult has taught them to do? The child is totally confused! He is only doing what he has been taught.

Let's look at what has been taught here: The adult walks in and greets the child with not a hug but a tickle or rough play. They now think that this is the correct way to greet people. The major interaction that the child gets is tickling or rough play. "Oh OK that is we are supposed to interact with others," thinks the child.

If you don't want a child to react to others in this way don't teach it to them.

So the next time you walk into a room with a child why not just give them a hug hello. Better still why not just give them a High five. Why not let the child decide whether they give you a hug or not after all we would for an adult.

There is nothing wrong with some appropriate play but why not temper it with some gentle play. More importantly why not just spend some time with the child.

The only self-defence that a child can have against this sort of learning is for the adult to intervene and explain to the offending adult the way things are done.

Try talking to your children and lead by example.

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