Martial arts are self-defense practices, such as karate, judo, and Tae kwon.
They focus on individual progress and can be a good alternative to team sport.
Martial arts are not a “treatment” for learning and attention problems, but they can help in self-esteem, coordination and executive functioning.
Exercise is ideal for any child. But children with learning and attention problems may find it difficult to find a sport or physical activity that suits them.
They may not have the social or physical qualifications to participate in a team. You may not have coordination for activities such as skating or ballet. They may find it too difficult to follow the rules, or they may be bullied or omitted.
Many families discover that martial arts are a great option. Read on to find out what martial arts are and why they adapt well to children with learning and attention problems.
WHAT ARE MARTIAL ARTS
Martial arts is an ancient Asian practice. They were originally intended for self-defense. Today, many people practice martial arts to build physical and mental strength.
There are many different forms of martial arts. Some-like karate and Tae kwon-focus on beating and blocking. Others-like judo and jiu-jitsu-focus on wrestling and grappling. All of them use deliberate and repetitive movements and emphasize the connection between mind and body.
Many parents believe that the benefits of martial arts for their children are more than physical. They say martial arts can help improve self-control, attention and other executive skills.
There is research that supports this, says Kimberley D. Lakes, Ph.D., from the Pediatric Exercise and Genomics Research Center at the University of California, Irvine. She cautions, however, that most studies have been conducted on schoolchildren in the general population. Few focused on children with learning and attention problems.
There is also no strong evidence that martial arts can replace drugs and other treatments for learning and attention problems.
What martial ARTS can offer children with learning and ATTENTION problems
There are many reasons why martial arts adapt well to children with learning and attention problems. Here are nine potential benefits:
They focus on individual growth, not team competition. Many children with learning and attention problems struggle with the pressure of having to compete with other children. So you don’t like traditional sports. But in martial arts, the emphasis is on self-improvement.
There is no” drop ” from the team.”
They offer concrete and achievable goals. Some children with learning and attention problems may feel like they are “earning” on nothing. In martial arts, children work at their own pace. You get a belt of different colors each time you reach a new skill level. It can increase self-esteem and motivate you.
Routines are broken down into manageable parts. A technique or form in martial arts can have dozens of different movements. But children learn gradually, repeat and add steps as they go. They learn to anticipate the next step and end up putting everything together in fluid movements. All this gives working memory a training, but in a way that children can find manageable.
They emphasize self-control and concentration. Attention is at the center of martial arts. Children need to stay focused on learning and playing. When a child’s attention moves away, instructors will often ask them to take the “ready”position.”This position allows you to reset and prepare for the next.
They can help with coordination. The deliberate and repetitive movements of martial arts can help children develop a better idea of their bodies in space, which can be useful for children who struggle with motor skills. It can also help some children understand the power of the mind over the body, which some find valuable for children with ADHD.
They offer a clear structure and expectations for behavior. Good martial arts teachers have clear rules and constantly strengthen them. They also emphasize good behavior inside and outside the classroom. Some even send children home with behavior diagrams that their parents must sign. (If you like this idea, here are some printable behavior contracts you can try.)
They can provide a secure outlet for excess energy. Contrary to what some might expect, martial arts do not encourage violent behavior. In fact, instructors often point out that fighting is a last resort. At the same time, children can cause frustration or anger by pedaling and hacking karate while practicing self-control.
The environment is friendly and common. Respect is a central value in martial arts. Students must show it to their instructor and peers. Negativity is generally not tolerated in the classroom and students are encouraged to support each other.
They are just cool! Children with learning and attention problems can often feel awkward or socially out of the loop. But many children think that martial arts are cool. It’s hard not to feel special when you wear martial arts equipment and break boards in half.
What to look for in a martial arts course
Your neighborhood can have classes for many types of martial arts. Some, like mixed martial arts (or MMA), are more aggressive and are usually not the best choice for children.
Most youth classes teach tae kwon do or karate. However, the type you choose for your child is not as important as dealing with a studio, Lake says.
Before registering, make an appointment with the studio director. Be honest about your child’s challenges. Explain what you hope he can get out of class.
For the best experience should be the school you choose:
Take a traditional approach that focuses on the development of the character.
Provide a preliminary assessment so that the teacher can assess your child’s strengths and challenges. You can also see if your child and the teacher fit well.
Have a low student-teacher ratio. Ideally, each class would have at least two teachers. If there are too many students, your child will not receive the individualized attention that he or she needs.
Have experience in teaching children with learning and attention problems. While it is important for teachers to push students, they should also support and understand their child’s challenges.