My Child May Have ADHD. Is Martial Arts a Good Choice?

Every parent knows kids are hard. You don’t imagine all the difficulties, but as kids grow up, you encounter trial after trial (and hopefully, of course, reward after reward).

Parents of kids diagnosed with Attention Deficiency Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) know these trials ten-fold. Here’s a statement from Understood.org that puts the condition in perspective: “Everyone shows signs of ADHD at one time or another. But kids with ADHD struggle a lot more with them than other kids their age.”

Professionals in education, psychology, family dynamics and other fields are still working to understand ADHD. It’s what experts call “the [struggle of] regulation of one’s activity level to the demands of a situation (hyperactivity and restlessness).” Let’s think about just this aspect of ADHD for now, how it affects your child, how it impacts you as a parent, and how karate training can help.

Sometimes kids can lose focus when they need it (or when you need them to have it). When you need them to back away from a dangerous situation, for example (an angry dog, an angry person, a cliff’s edge). Or when they need to understand a concept that requires a great deal of concentration.

Kids with ADHD have especial hardship with this kind of self-regulation. They may head dangerously into a situation or stay absolutely averted to one, unable to take a step toward risk.

Karate training helps with this by (1) creating a safe situation for social, mental and physical risk and (2) by providing a system of advancement that rewards accomplishment. You may have seen this in action, but if you haven’t, consider the introduction of a new white belt to a karate class.

The new student participates in a class with their belt-level peers, led by an experienced black belt instructor. They go through training routines, exercises, games, question and answer mat chats. They get an opportunity to be (cheerfully) loud. It’s physical; muscles get their tension and release. And at the end of class, the new student gets a chance to come up in front of the class, say their name, throw a few punches and kicks, and run back to their place on the mat amid a flurry of cheers.

This is the beginning of a sense of belonging. And kids with ADHD can get a foothold in this space.

If you want to see how this works in action for your child, get started here.

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