Can Martial Arts Training Improve Your Child’s Behavior?
Many parents are discovering that their child’s behavior improves after enrolling them in martial arts classes. What makes the difference and how does it work? Can martial arts training benefits children with behavior problems?
Can Martial Arts Training Improve Behavior?
It’s very interesting how this type of program benefits children so much. Parents will sign their kids up for a program and then something amazing happens; their child’s behavior starts to improve. The teacher calls saying she sees such a difference in little Johnny’s behavior lately and wants to know what has changed.
The Nature of Children
Children with behavioral issues are often bored, have low self-esteem, and lack direction. It is usually around the time the child starts school that problems arise at home and in the classroom. This is because school is a much more structured environment and you’re expected to sit still and be quiet for long periods which is harder for some kids than others.
The Core Foundation of All Martial Arts Systems
The basic core fundamentals in any martial arts system are respect for others, respect for self, and work as a team. They all share the belief that in order to discipline the body, one must first discipline the mind. That means directing that unfocused energy that all kids have, into something productive.
Is Martial Arts Training Good for Kids with ADHD?
Kids with behavior problems (especially those with ADHD and ODD) benefit from physical exercise because it allows them an outlet for all that pent up energy and once it is gone, they have an easier time concentrating. Studies show that complex physical activity strengthens the neural connections in the brain, as well as increasing oxygen and blood flow to vital organs. Some researchers believe exercise may benefit these children more than medication. They develop better coordination, confidence, and self-control.
The first lesson learned in martial arts is that in order to perform the movement properly you must pay attention. That means giving the instructor your full attention at all times, otherwise you will not be able to master the technique being taught. They are taught to block out distractions in order to sharpen their focus (mind over body).
Kids are excited to learn so they tend to give the instructor their attention. The lessons they learn from martial arts begin to flow into other areas of their life; it’s a natural progression. They begin to listen more, pay attention, and do chores without being asked.
What Makes the Difference?
- Focus and concentration
- Physical activity
- Learning social skills (working as a team)
A big part of it is learning focus and concentration. When learning a new technique or stance, they have to block out distractions in order to focus on the instructor. Performing a technique correctly requires concentration; if you’re distracted you will fail.
Physical activity is an outlet for excess energy for some kids who have trouble being still. If you let them express that energy by running laps, jumping rope, and practicing katas they will have a better time being able to quiet down and pay attention.
Many kids have a tough time fitting in and that is especially true with kids who have behavior problems. They don’t get along well with others and have no concept of self-respect or respect for anyone else. Martial arts teach them that they are part of a team and each member depends on one another. A lot of these children lack social skills, and once they learn to work together and support each other, those issues disappear.