Benefits of martial arts for kids with learning and attention issues
Children with learning and attention issues can have difficulty finding a sport or physical activity that suits them. Sometimes, they may lack the social or physical skills to take part in a team sport or may not have the coordination for activities such as skating or dance.
In such cases, martial arts can be an excellent option. Originally developed for self-defense, martial arts offers a great way to build physical and mental strength. There are several forms of martial arts such as karate, tae kwon do, judo and jiu-jitsu. Use of deliberate and repetitive motion emphasizes the connection between mind and body. Martial arts can also improve kids’ self-control, attention and other executive functioning skills.
How martial arts can help kids with learning and attention issues
There are many reasons martial arts can be a good match for kids with learning and attention issues. Here are some benefits:
- Focus on individual growth: Many kids with learning and attention issues struggle with the pressure of having to compete with other kids. Hence, traditional sports may not be appealing to them. Martial arts offers the scope to focus on self-improvement and helps special needs kids do better.
- Offer concrete, attainable goals: Often, kids with learning and attention issues may feel like they may not achieve great results at team sports. In martial arts, kids work at their own pace and are awarded with different coloured belt when they reach a new skill level. This helps boost their self-esteem and keeps them motivated.
- Routine becomes manageable: Martial art techniques have several movements and kids learn slowly by repeating and adding steps. They learn to anticipate which step comes next and are eventually able to put everything together into fluid movements. This helps kids give a manageable workout to their working memory.
- Boosts self-control and concentration: When doing martial arts, kids must say focused and learn to perform. This makes attention central to the practice of this technique. When the instructor notices a shift in the child’s focus, they will ask the child to take the “ready stance” which allows them to reset and ready themselves.
- Help with coordination: Martial arts has deliberate, repetitive movements that can help kids develop a better feel for their body in space. This can be useful for kids who struggle with motor skills. It may also help kids understand the power of the mind over the body.
- Provide structure with clear expectations: Martial arts instructors have a clear set of rules and they are constantly reinforcing them. They also emphasize good behaviour both in and out of class.
- Safe outlet for excess energy: Some may think that martial arts encourage violent behaviour. However, this is not true. Kicking and karate chopping can allow kids to work out frustration or anger, while practicing self-control. In fact, instructors often emphasize fighting as a last resort.
- Provide an accepting and communal environment: Respect is central to martial arts training. Students are expected to show the same towards their instructors and peers. They are encouraged to support one another and negativity is generally not tolerated in class.
Kids with learning and attention issues can often feel awkward or socially out of the loop. But a lot of kids feel cool and special while wearing martial arts gear. Martial arts provide a great opportunity for your child to develop higher self-esteem, find community and experience success.