Exercise is crucial for every kid, but we know that it can be challenging to find sports or activities that children with learning and attention issues will enjoy. Some children are still developing certain physical or social skills, and they may not be quite ready to join a team. Also, many sports have specific rules that these children can have a challenging time grasping.
What many families have discovered is that martial arts can be an excellent option. Here’s why we agree.
Understanding Martial Arts
Martial arts have a variety of forms, including taekwondo, karate, and more. These arts were initially meant for self-defense; however, today, many people practice martial arts as a way to grow in strength, stamina, and mental endurance. Some people choose forms that focus on blocking and striking—such as karate and taekwondo—while others choose forms that focus more on wrestling—such as judo and jiu-jitsu. Many parents firmly believe that martial arts have helped their children in more ways than just the physical. They have said that their children’s self-control, attention, and other executive functioning skills have grown stronger since the beginning of their classes.
Studies from the Pediatric Exercise and Genomics Research Center at the University of California have supported this claim. However, it is important to note that extensive research has not been done for children with learning and attention concerns. Also, martial arts classes are not a substitute for medication and other treatments.
How Martial Arts Can Help These Kids
Martial arts is about individual growth. We’ve seen many children struggle with the pressures of competing against other kids, especially when they have a hard time focusing or learning new things. However, martial arts’ focus is on improving the self. Children can take their time as they learn new skills.
The goals are clear. Kids with learning and attention issues might never have that feeling of “winning” when in a sport they don’t excel at. Martial arts allow kids to work on their own time and achieve a new colored belt as they get better. This can help them stay motivated and even boost their self-esteem.
Steps come slowly. Instructors teach every movement gradually, and students add in movements as they learn. After a while, the muscle memory guides them through the progression of steps. This process exercises their working memory in a way that is possible for kids.
They learn concentration and control. Attention is the most important part of martial arts training. In order to learn and perform, kids have to focus. If a child begins to lose focus, instructors will tell them to move to a “ready stance,” which forces them to reset and prepare for whatever is coming next.
They develop coordination. Children are still learning how to move and control their bodies. The repetition and deliberate movements in karate and other martial arts can help kids develop motor skills and coordination. Mind over body!
The class offers structure and expectations. Your martial arts instructors will have clear rules about behavior that is and is not tolerated in class. They also explain what behavior is acceptable outside of class!
It’s a safe way to release energy. While some people believe that martial arts are about fighting, this is not the case. Instructors explain to the kids that fighting is the last possible resort. However, kicking and chopping can help kids expel some energy and work out any frustration they may have.
Respect is demanded. Students must show their instructors respect, but more importantly, they must respect their peers. Instructors will not tolerate negativity in class, and all athletes are encouraged to support one another.
Thrive Martial Arts
When it comes to finding the right place for your child, regardless of their needs, we hope you consider Thrive Martial Arts. We encourage all of our students to work at their own pace to learn or perfect a skill each time they come in for class. We offer classes to improve our students’ strength, but also to help them develop stronger self-esteem and confidence. Contact us today to learn more about our facilities and available classes. We have three convenient locations(Broomfield, Windsor, and Fort Collins), so you can choose the one closest to you. We look forward to seeing you soon!