Exercise is essential for every kid (and adult), but kids who have problems with learning and paying attention may have a more difficult time finding a sport or activity that’s right for them. These kids may not have the physical or social skills to be part of some teams, they may not have enough coordination for activities like ballet, they may find it hard to follow the rules, or they may be bullied or feel left out.
Many parents find that martial arts are an excellent option for kids with ADHD. While martial arts won’t “treat” learning and attention problems, what they can do is build self-esteem, better coordination, improved problem-solving skills, and improved mental and physical health. Continue reading to learn about how martial arts can benefit children with learning and attention problems.
You might be wondering how something like martial arts can help manage something as serious as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). ADHD is a disorder that affects someone’s ability to control impulsive behavior and pay attention. Children with ADHD typically find themselves constantly looking for things to do and tend to feel restless. While many people think that this disorder is something that only affects children, that’s actually not true at all. The symptoms of ADHD will often begin during childhood but can carry over into adulthood as well.
Learning martial arts can be a fun activity that anyone can take part in. People with ADHD can excel at martial arts due to the hyper-focus that’s often associated with the disorder. There are many martial arts styles that children with ADHD can choose from, each with different philosophies and techniques, but they all have some things in common. All styles of martial arts use deliberate and repetitive motions that emphasize the connection between body and mind.
What can Martial Arts Offer to Kids with ADHD?
- Martial arts offer attainable goals. Some kids with ADHD may feel like they never “win” at things. In martial arts, children are able to work at their own pace and are awarded a different colored belt each time they reach a new skill level. This system not only keeps them motivated, but it can also boost their self-esteem.
- Martial arts focus on individual growth rather than team competition. Kids with ADHD may struggle with the pressure of competing with other kids, and so traditional sports may not be as appealing to them. Martial arts, on the other hand, focus on self-improvement, so kids don’t need to worry about “letting their team down.”
- Martial arts can help improve coordination. Repetitive and deliberate movements allow children to develop a better feel for their body in space. This can be useful for children who struggle with motor skills and can also help kids understand the power of mind over body.
- Martial arts provide structure. Good martial arts instructors will have clear rules and will make sure to reinforce them. These instructors also emphasize good behavior both in and out of the classroom.
- Martial Arts emphasizes concentration and self-control. Attention is crucial in martial arts, and kids must stay focused if they want to learn and perform well. When a child’s focus strays, their instructor may ask them to take the “ready stance.”
- Martial arts can provide children with a safe outlet for excess energy. Despite what some people may believe, martial arts don’t encourage bad behavior. Instructors actually emphasize fighting as a last resort. However, learning karate chopping and kicking can allow children to work out frustrations and anger while also practicing self-control.
- Martial arts have an accepting environment. Respect is another important principle in martial arts, and students are expected to show respect to their instructor and their peers. Negativity is typically not tolerated in class, and students are always encouraged to support one another.
- Martial arts routines are broken down into manageable steps. A technique in martial arts can have several different movements, but children learn gradually by repeating and adding steps as they go. Kids will learn to anticipate what comes next and eventually put everything together in solid movements.
- Martial arts are fun! Kids with ADHD can sometimes feel awkward or left out in social situations, but many kids like martial arts and think they’re super fun. It’s hard not to feel good when you’re wearing cool martial arts gear and chopping boards in half!
Martial arts are great for providing your child with the opportunity to build their self-esteem, find a positive and friendly community, and experience success and achievements. There are so many martial arts benefits for children, whether they have ADHD or not, and everyone can learn and grow and have fun!