Kids with ADHD and other Attention/Distraction Concerns
One question that I get asked a lot by clients who are also parents is: what activity do you recommend for kids with ADHD or who simply struggles with paying attention.
Since I have written several blog posts on the positive benefits of training in a martial art, I thought this would be a good time to address this question. At this point, I'm sure you know what my answer is going to be right? However, lest you think this is simply the opinion of a counselor who has been hit in the head one too many times, evidence in my favor is starting to build up. Doctoral dissertations are starting to be written and researched on this subject. The prestigious Mayo Clinic even advises parents to have their children try Karate as a way of mitigating ADHD symptoms.
While there are millions of adults suffering from ADHD, the condition sets in during childhood and the teen years can be the hardest time to cope with ADHD and its effects. Although children face very different problems from ADHD than adults do, it is at this stage of development where we start building our coping mechanisms, now these mechanisms can be either positive (e.g. sports) or negative (e.g. illegal drugs and alcohol). Don't get me wrong: the essential symptoms are the same either way. In can involve an inability to concentrate or focus, hyperactivity, and impulsive behavior at any age. But the social responses to these symptoms are different for kids and adults.
For adults, ADHD can affect work life, professional reputation and personal relationships. But often adults have some experience coping with social situations and some are lucky enough to have understanding friends who accept them. This is much less common among kids and teens. Kids with ADHD almost always experience negative consequences with their schoolwork, and parents or teachers may not take their condition seriously. So in addition to stressing their social relationships, they are also told over and over by authority figures that they are not good enough.
This leads to self-esteem issues.
Martial arts may or may not directly help organizational issues But one thing it definitely does is improve self-esteem for kids. In fact, at least one martial art instructor (who has ADHD himself) specifically works with kids suffering from ADHD, designing classes to play to their strengths.
I'm sure this is just one of many ways to help a child with ADHD build up their self-esteem and overcome their symptoms. But I believe it's a highly effective one. Have any of you tried martial arts for your own kids with ADHD? What changes did you see?
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