We’re entering the dog days of summer, which means parents everywhere are looking for activities to keep their children occupied. While there’s certainly benefits to Little League, summer camp and swim practice, those pale in comparison to the extensive, lifelong advantages kids enjoy from practicing martial arts. This summer, parents have an opportunity to not just get their kids out of the house for a few hours a week, but impart valuable bits of wisdom and life lessons that will carry them through their entire life. Simply put, martial arts equals success in life. Here’s how:
Sharper focus, sharper mind
It’s no secret that the digital age has wreaked havoc on our ability to focus. Smartphones, tablets and video games – not to mention the immediacy of the internet – have all sapped our attention spans dry. In fact, the average attention span is now a mere eight seconds. Eight seconds! That’s worse than a goldfish!
Because children are bombarded by media, they are most susceptible to this attention span erosion. On top of that, diagnoses of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children are at an all-time high. Kids today have an uphill battle just paying attention to teachers in a single class, much less during the course of an entire school day.
Think of the long-term fallout from a child’s inability to focus. How will they be able to properly study for important tests like midterms, finals and the SATs? How will a poor attention span affect their ability to hold down a meaningful job?
Martial arts instills the value of focus and mindfulness. As the Alliance Training Center noted, regularly practicing martial arts promotes a greater sense of mental clarity. With a little time and dedication, students can even snap themselves out of their mental fogs and dive back into the matter at hand, regardless of whether they’re in the dojo or in the classroom.
Boost student confidence
Childhood self-esteem issues can follow kids into adulthood, adversely affecting various areas of their lives. Kids with low self-esteem may turn inward and avoid social interactions, preventing them from developing the social behaviors that will be so critical to success in adolescence and adulthood. Without a firm belief in themselves and what they’re capable of, children will be more likely to give up when faced with adversity, preventing them from achieving their goals in life.
If not properly addressed, seemingly benign or temporary self-esteem issues can even lead to more harmful conditions like severe depression down the road.
Unfortunately, some parents may be doing more harm than good in their efforts to boost their kids’ sense of self-worth. As the Nemours Foundation explained, endless praise does not necessarily lead to better self-esteem, so consistently assuring children that they’re great isn’t guaranteed to significantly boost their confidence. In fact, it could be counterproductive, devaluing the merits of hard work and achieving actual results, effectively lowering the bar for approval. Kids won’t see the value in tackling new challenges if they are praised simply for putting in minimal effort toward any activity.
“Failure is not only common, it’s expected.”
Martial arts classes are filled with opportunities for growth in this area, whether it’s mastering a new form or earning a new belt. Failure is not only common, it’s expected. But those moments of failure are essential lessons and, in fact, make success all the sweeter when students eventually overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. As Aikido founder Morihei Ueshiba once famously said, “Failure is the key to success; each mistake teaches us something.”
Nothing comes free in a well-run martial arts studio, and students will know that any recognition they receive from their teachers is 100-percent earned. That sense of accomplishment will instill an appreciation for hard work and improve their self-esteem.
As confidence in their martial arts skills grows, students will be more willing to tackle new challenges and address their fears head-on. That heightened feeling of self-worth will serve them well throughout their childhood and beyond.
Martial arts classes provide much more than a simple workout for children. They help kids cultivate a winning mindset, enabling them to successfully overcome whatever obstacles they encounter in life.