Can Martial Arts Help Children with ADHD?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common and widespread childhood disorders, quoted by the National Institute of Mental Health. Every day doctors either recommend or prescribe pharmaceutical drugs for children with ADHD in an attempt to alleviate the different warning signs associated with the syndrome. Symptom such as restlessness, lack of focus, having difficulty controlling behavior, and hyperactivity are all part of ADHD. Regular exercise, a controlled environment, healthy nutritious foods, and constructive discipline support a child’s mental and physical health. Parents, today are more and more often turning to martial arts to help their children suffering from ADHD.
Recent studies involving children with ADHD who practice martial arts show they have greatly improved their ability to listen and stay focused.
Exercise turns on “the attention system” requiring that children focus and pay attention. Taekwondo is one of many exercises that is good for children with ADHD, due to it involving paying close attention to the different body movements. All martial arts have this rule with the key benefits being increased discipline, focus, and determination. Children learn to pay attention to the task at hand and not to give up when engaged in high levels of physical activity. Behavior changes do occur and will be noticeable over time with consistent hard work during martial arts training.
In addition to giving children with ADHD all of the physical benefits of exercise, including improved cardio health, enhanced strength, and better flexibility, taekwondo also enforces good rules of behavior based on respect that carry over in social interactions, at home, and at school.
Children today, face bullying and negative peer pressure more than ever before, which is why it is essential they have the necessary skills to guard and protect themselves. Kids who know how to protect themselves usually will not have to because they carry themselves in a more secure manner and sometimes confidence alone is all the deterrent that bullies need.
In martial arts, students learn when they should and should not use their newfound skills. Children are taught that martial arts is not to be used for any other reason than as a last resort of self-defense from an attacker or bully, which in turn prevents the student from becoming the aggressor.
Kids today are bored and with that boredom troubled kids are often a product. However, with karate, students are given a positive way to channel their natural energy and hostility into something safe and positive as well as having something constructive to do with their spare time.
Martial Arts and ADD/ADHD
“At 46, while I can still go toe to toe with 20 year olds and throw a passable back handspring, I’ve ultimately come to realize that, beyond the physical, many of the most valuable aspects of the martial arts are the lessons of social intelligence and mental discipline. That is what makes this particular activity useful for shepherding the development of skills that address the challenges of ADD/ADHD, for both children and adults.”