A.C. Slater Would Be Proud! Mario Lopez's 6-Year-Old Daughter Loves Wrestling: 'She's Like a Little Ronda Rousey'
"I think a father and daughter dynamic incredibly important," Mario Lopez tells PEOPLE of his relationship with 6-year-old Gia Francesca
It’s been over 20 years since Mario Lopez played high school wrestling champ (and secretly amazing dancer) A.C. Slater on the hit ’90s teen series Saved By the Bell. But as they say: While you can take the man out of Bayside, you can’t take the Bayside out of the man.
“I love having dance parties and wrestling matches with the kids. The wrestling matches are a favorite for the kids,” the Extra host, 43, tells PEOPLE of his son Dominic Luciano, 3, and daughter Gia Francesca, 6, in this week’s issue.
“For me, after a while, I’m always concerned that I’m being a little too aggressive, and my wife [Courtney] gets worried,” he admits. “But they love when I’m rough with them and throwing them on the bed — I launch them.”
“It’s the WWE at my house every night. They get mad if I don’t wrestle with them.”
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The father of two shares that Gia is surprisingly more into the rough-and-tumble play than Dominic.
“She’s as physical if not more physical than my son. That’s her favorite, to be honest,” he says. “They can’t seem to get enough. She’s like a little Ronda Rousey.”
But just because his daughter is more physical doesn’t mean she is the more stubborn sibling, according to her dad.
“I think there’s a difference in being a father to a daughter and a son,” Lopez says. “My daughter, she’s very smart — and I know a lot of parents say that about their kids, but she’s a very quick kid and very funny and very sensitive and emotional and nurturing. She’s a total Daddy’s girl.”
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Lopez says that Gia is a well-rounded young lady, and is already showing signs of a strong personality that will give any future suitors quite the challenge.
“My daughter is very much a girly girl,” he says. “I think she is going to be a strong young lady and I feel sorry for her future boyfriend, because I think she’s going to keep [him] in check.”
“I think a father-and-daughter dynamic is incredibly important,” he adds. “It’s the very first male bonding experience. I think the way you treat your daughter is going to set a certain standard of the way she ought to be treated.”
“And if you raise her right, she’s not going to put up with anything less than that, and that’s [what] I’m trying to do with my daughter.”
The actor and television personality says he has learned “there is no blueprint for how to guide when it comes to parenting,” but along the way he has imparted one big life lesson in his kids that he hopes will be integral in helping them grow.
“The most important thing for me to teach my kids is that manners go a long way. Being polite and respectable, and respecting other people, and treating them how you would want to be treated and doing the right thing,” he shares. “And [having] an open and honest dialogue. I want them to feel like they can come to me and talk about anything. [There] shouldn’t be any secrets.”
“I just want to raise good kids,” Lopez continues. “I want [them] to be honest and have a good work ethic and take care of each other because all you have is each other. Hopefully they won’t forget about Mom and Dad.”
For more about Mario Lopez’s family life, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.