How Does Karate Help Kids With ADHD?

  1. About ADHD

    • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, ADHD, is one of the most common childhood disorders, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Every day doctors prescribe pharmaceutical drugs for children with ADHD in an attempt to curb symptoms such as restlessness, lack of focus, difficulty controlling behavior and hyperactivity. Regular exercise, a structured lifestyle, healthy nutritious foods (minus artificial flavors and colors) and positive discipline support a child's mental and physical health. Parents are turning to Martial Arts to help their children with ADHD.

    Exercise as Medication

    • Harvard University's John Ratey wrote several books on ADHD. He says, "Think of exercise as medication." For some, he says, exercise may eliminate the need for medication altogether. Exercise turns on "the attention system" as he calls it, requiring that children focus and pay attention. He names Tae Kwon Do as one of the exercises good for kids with ADHD since it requires you to pay close attention to body movements. All Martial Arts have this requirement and some of the key benefits are increased discipline, focus and perseverance. Children learn to do what they have to do no matter how hard it is, pay attention to the task at hand and not to give up. Hopefully they also encounter an instructor who won't give up in them. Behavior changes occur over a period of time with consistent work.

    Start Martial Arts

    • Call local Martial Arts schools in your area and set up an appointment for an introductory lesson. Most schools offer a complimentary lesson, giving you the opportunity to see their school, meet their instructors and watch your child take class. Before class ask them if they work with children with ADHD. Pay attention to how they teach and speak to the children. You may not notice a change in your child's behavior the first day, but make sure the instructor remains calm and patient with your child. Many children with ADHD suffer from low self-esteem and Martial Arts should help with their confidence. A good Martial Arts program emphasizes goal setting with all their students and your child's first goal may be as simple as learning to focus only on the instructor. With this repeated effort you will be amazed at the results.

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  • Photo Credit Katie Vyn

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