Help! My Child May be Depressed: How Martial Arts Can Help Kids with Depression

In late 2001, we talked with Heidi Baskfield and Dr. Bruno Anthony of Colorado’s Partners for Children’s Mental Health, an organization

that works with kids, parents and teachers to help children cope with anxiety and depression. (Listen to the podcast here.)

At the time, the pandemic had shut down places of work, restaurants, playgrounds, and, of course, schools. Kids were shut off from socializing with their peers. They couldn’t talk face-to-face with teachers, read stories or play in groups. Nobody needs to tell you it was a challenging time.

Though we’re emerging back into a reality we recognize, those challenges continue for kids. Here are some ways karate can help parents and kids connect and engage with themselves and others. 

First, the environment in the karate school is positive. That’s an absolute. No badmouthing. No bullying. Encouragement is the name of the game. If a kid is shy, he or she is not forced to put themselves on display. They’re not forced to do anything. The students and instructors set up an atmosphere where even shy kids gain the courage to come up in front of class and throw some punches, some kicks. They bow to applause. Though the training gets more and more challenging on the road to black belt, the encouragement keeps pace.

Second, the karate school provides a safe place for kids to expand their horizons. Adults are involved and on hand to answer questions, address feelings of happiness, fear, or frustration. In class, at karate tournaments, and at tests, kids feel supported when their family members cheer them on from the benches. When parents join their kids on the mat, the support is even stronger.

Third (and this is not an exhaustive list), karate challenges kids to think creatively, and training rewards these efforts in positive ways. Word of the Month worksheets, Vision Boards, creative forms, letters of thanks, and more curated “homework” assignments tie martial arts training to life at home and school. Families often complete these assignments together, with parents learning things about their kids they never knew. 

Black belt training provides a place for every student, old and young, to experience a wholesome, challenging, supportive platform for healthy growth. All the instructors have been through the training themselves, and speak and act from experience that kids recognize and respect. If you’re curious about what the black belt journey could mean for your child, get started here.

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