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Tuesday, May 3, 2016
My son is not quite three years old and his father wants to enroll him in wrestling, which I am not comfortable with. I am all for physical activity, however I feel that at this age teaching him wrestling is not only dangerous because of physical harm that could occur from the sport, but this is also a time when I am teaching him to share and that we keep our hands off of others even when we are upset with them. Since he is so young I don`t feel that having him in wrestling at this time in his life is the right choice, if wrestling is a sport that he would like to participate in when he is older, I would support my son. I am looking into whether or not there are negative effects for toddlers aside from physical harm such as increased and displaced aggression due to the introduction of wrestling as a sport at this young age. I would really appreciate any insight you can give in this matter because I am very concerned and apprehensive about him wrestling at three years old.
Thank you very much for the questions. Certainly, it is important that children engage in various types of physical activities in order to improve their health. At 3 years of age, most children will benefit from unstructured 'free-play' that allows them to run, jump and climb. Programs that offer some instruction along with free-play (ie. soccer, tumbling, and swimming) offer some exposure to athletics without emphasizing competition. In my opinion, wrestling would not fall into this category. Wrestling is a sport that requires a lot of strength, discipline and a certain temperament. Three year old children do not have these qualities. Thus, I would not recommend that your son participate in wrestling at this time. However, this is a discussion that you and the father should have with your son's pediatrician.
Stephen E Wilson, MD, MSc
Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati