It is well-established that martial arts programs for kids help build confidence, reinforce discipline, develop focus, and improve fitness. Martial arts provides additional benefits for children with a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD. The CDC reports an 11% prevalence of ADD/ADHD in kids between the ages of four and seventeen. Martial arts can be a valuable tool to help these children overcome daily challenges.
Martial arts teaches teamwork and respect for others, which can help kids develop socially. When students learn new techniques, they’re also learning how to interact with their partner and instructor. This builds respect and trains effective communication so the kids can properly execute a technique, but also so they can improve communication outside the studio.
For kids with ADD/ADHD and other challenges, gaining self-confidence can be difficult. In martial arts, kids are taught to persevere and push through any setbacks to not only achieve, but exceed their goals. Once the students realize they can do things they thought they couldn’t, self-confidence increases, which is a critical part of their emotional development.
Focus and discipline can be especially evasive for kids struggling with ADD/ADHD and other challenges. To learn a technique, kids learn to focus on the instructor’s direction and demonstration. Discipline is a large part of learning martial arts and kids learn to wield it effectively so they can advance through the class. Kids develop intellectually because of martial arts’ requirement for discipline and focus.
One of the best ways for kids with ADD/ADHD and other challenges to release stress is with exercise. While exercise is important, certain types of exercise benefit ADD/ADHD kids more than others. Dr. Edward Hallowell, a child psychiatrist from Harvard University says, “A sport in which kids just run around and let off steam is not going to help a child with ADD, particularly if he’s hyperactive. He may get revved up and never rev down again. Better to stick with structured activity.” Martial arts provides that structured activity while still giving kids a physical outlet to let off steam.
Interested parties can search for kid’s martial arts to find classes near them.