Fathers learn quickly about the danger of a child’s flailing limbs. One of the most unpleasant dad experiences is getting smashed in the groin by an errant foot. And the jewels are vulnerable in a surprising variety of situations: Dad can get punched by a newly toddling and excitable child or kicked by a seemingly pacific baby, or ruined during an impromptu, unfair wrestling match. The point is that dad needs to think about protecting his testicles and his penis — like give it active consideration.
“Even though they are little, they can hurt you,” warns Dr. Doug Strong, a father of two and the principle of a special education school for children with emotional and behavior disabilities. “My daughter broke my nose. She was sitting in front of me and reared her head back and caught me right on the nose. So if you don’t defend yourself, you actually can get hurt.”
Playing defense is all well and good, but most nut shots are accidental and therefore unpredictable. So how does one defend against such hits? By acknowledging that they are coming. Strong has practiced Western Martial Arts (think: MMA, but with armor and swords) for 25 years, competing in armored contests. He’s a proponent of using combat principles when playing with children.
“You have to be intentional – think about what you will do, and have a plan,” explains Strong. “Generally I used my left hand for defense and my right hand for the activity. Whatever we were doing, the right hand did most of the work, and the left hand was for blocking. As long as you are aware, and you are thinking about it, you can defend against it.”
That doesn’t mean dad always has to be on his guard, one hand up, bobbing and weaving like an extra from Enter the Dragon. There’s a concept called safe distance – essentially how far away one has to be from an attacker. Let’s say the “attacker” is a rambunctious four-year-old. One arm’s length should provide plenty of time to react by turning your body or catching an errant limb. The important thing, Dr. Strong says, is to make sure that you’re not only in a position to defend yourself, but to do so without harming your assailant.
That’s a tough thing to do.
Aaron Hawley, Deputy Sheriff at Wisconsin’s Dane County Jail for 16 years, has come up with a system for handling children derived from adult confrontation. His prisoners are considered wards of the state and must, Hawley stresses, be dealt with as delicately as possible even when they become violent. His strategies, which he’s honed in jail, he now applies when his kids throw wild tantrums.
“For police work in a secure facility, when we have multiple people to assist, we use the technique of blanketing a limb,” explains Hawley. “As an adult with a child, this can be done safely with one person.”
How to Defend Your Testicles From Toddler Attack
- Keep the closing distance up to over an arm’s length to allow for plenty of reaction time
- Keep one hand free when holding or interacting with a child in order to block possible nut shots
- Present your profile — the side of your body — to the child while wrestling or playing to make it harder to get a straight shot to the groin.
- A violent trantruming child can be covered in a blanket and held sideways to keep flailing limbs from making contact
Essentially, when a child starts to flail or throw their limbs about in a tantrum, throw a blanket over them and pick them up and hold them close. The blanket will hold their arms still, allowing them to be carried at minimal risk. In effect, Hawley is advocating for parents to carefully weaponizing a swaddling technique that has soothing effects on newborns. The major advantage to this approach is that allows for both containment and proximity. It may seem comforting to children even though it’s actually a prison move.
Still, the sad fact is fathers are going to get smacked in the balls at least a few times. Kids are too unpredictable, too unaware of their own bodies in space, and too ignorant of how painful a hit to the jewels really is. “You might as well wear a cup,” laughs Hawley. “You can’t be on point all the time.”
So, when it happens, just try not to curse too much in front of the kid.
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