How Can Martial Arts Helps Kids with ADD and ADHD?
By: Reid Presley
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, commonly known as ADHD, affects about 9.4% of children between the ages of 2-17 in a 2016 report by the Center of Disease Control. This disorder can affect a child’s ability to focus, maintain self-control or complete tasks. Parents often find themselves wondering how they can help their child learn how to manage these challenges and what they can do to help their child be successful in the classroom. Martial arts has been growing in popularity as a tool for children to learn how to manage their ADHD by practicing their ability to focus and by working on their ability to pay attention. Through martial arts and the utilization of the learning of various skill combinations, a child will work on their ability to focus on completing tasks and strengthen their self-control. In addition, Premier Martial Arts schools provide an amazing social environment that helps these children have a place to meet friends and feel supported at all times.
One way martial arts helps children focus is by giving them very specific tasks involving targets. Whether they’re aiming at a kicking shield, punching bag, or themselves in the mirror, they’re constantly being coached on focus and where to throw their techniques. Another way focus taught is by encouraging students to look at their instructors in the eyes when the instructor is speaking. Premier Martial Arts has found that one of the most impactful times in a class is the “mat chat”. These “mat chats” cover all kinds of motivational concepts and character development topics. These chats reinforce key concepts while practicing and maintaining self-control.
Children with ADHD oftentimes need to have reinforced instruction on being able to pay attention and demonstrate self-control. In martial arts, self-control is a foundation that other skills are built off of. A couple of ways martial arts teaches children self-control includes having structured class formations, student lines, and verbal, consistent commands that teaches a student to reflexively return to a specific stance and remain still like a statue. Every class will have a lining up process that ends with all of the students standing at attention and remaining still. During the lining up process, students have an opportunity to work out their extreme energy, but then are required to snap to a ready position and control their movements.
Utilizing line drills and having an instructor who knows how to maintain control of his lines and who creates exciting, entertaining drills is really beneficial to a student with ADHD. Sometimes, the students may have to stand in their set stance, not moving a muscle, and other times they may remain in a guard stance while moving through the line. This keeps them occupied, in the moment of thinking, and helps them learn to keep their hands to themselves. During both of these structure systems, the instructor is expected to use anchors, verbal commands, to maintain the attention, control, and excitement of the students. In the very first Premier Martial Arts lesson, a student is taught a few commands, and from then on the instructor will continue adding important focus commands. These commands include anything from standing tall in a ready position, taking a knee, or even sitting with their legs crossed and back straight. The students are expected to know exactly what each anchor means, and if used properly by the instructor, they will only enhance the class and the students’ ability to focus and use self-control.
Another benefit of martial arts for a child with ADHD is the ability to learn how to break down tasks into smaller portions and tackle them one step at a time. In Premier Martial Arts, students will learn all kinds of defending and striking combinations during their class. Every single combination will be broken down into smaller portions or even single moves. Then, towards the end of the session, they are all put back together to form a longer combination. This is translated to other areas of the child’s life and is something that will help them in school or around the house.
Focus, self-control, and task management are crucial for a child’s development. Premier Martial Arts provides valuable tools in its program to encourage improvement in these areas. Premier schools will put a student in the best environment to grow their character, meet new friends, and be a part of a community that will provide consistent support the student needs. Once a person becomes a student, they are treated like family, and the student’s success is a responsibility taken on by the school. If your child is looking for that support, join the family and check out a Premier Martial Arts school near you.
There are Premier Martial Arts studios nationwide. From cities in the southeast like Martinez GA., Knoxville TN., and Naples, FL. to the Northeast in Dover DE. , Marlborough, MA. ,and Raynham, MA. Our presence in the west is also very strong with Premier Martial Arts schools in cites like Lawrence KS. , Pearland TX. , West Linn OR. , and even Lihue, HI. !