Physical FitnessJust like with adults, one of the most common reasons for enrolling a child into a martial arts class is fitness.
Childhood obesity rates are climbing, and more and more children are spending a lot more time in front of the television, playing video games and using a computer. However, even among more active children, martial art is still attractive since it is seen as a very good source of exercise that also teaches skills. Martial arts can help improve cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, balance, strength and overall energy levels.
Life SkillsAnother popular reason for enrolling children in the martial arts is to develop “life skills”. These skills include discipline, self control, patience, confidence, courage etc. The idea with these classes and this motivation is to reinforce what is already being taught at home. Martial arts classes can be a valuable tool for helping to really drive home the points you make at home in a very real way.
Self-DefenseSelf-defense is the most obvious reason that should come to mind when considering enrolling a child in the martial arts. The focus of a good children’s martial arts class, while still teaching self-defense movements, should be on conflict resolution, personal responsibility and avoidance. In that respect, attending a good martial arts class would benefit both the bully by teaching to respect others as well as your own power, and the bullied, by teaching how to calm a situation or defend oneself if need be.
Behaviour IssuesMany parents turn to the martial arts when their children are acting out in school and at home. This is tied in to the life skills reason, but is very specific in what the desired outcome is, these parents are looking for help improving attention span, respect, demeanor and self control. The structure of many martial arts classes can greatly aid in these areas, however results will really vary and depend on the relationship that is built between the child and the instructor. If the instructor has a good method of communicating with the child, is firm but friendly, and most importantly, is very consistent, then the child can really get a lot out of martial arts training.
Safe, after school activityMany parents are just seeking a safe, wholesome, useful activity for their child to occupy some of their free time. These parents don’t want their child to sit at home all evening, or want them to get involved in something that makes them set and follow through on goals. Martial arts training will certainly help in that respect. A good martial arts school can become a second home for many children. The relationships built between classmates and with an instructor can last a lifetime and have a huge positive impact on a child’s life.
Whatever reasons you have for enrolling your child in a martial arts class, be sure to discuss your goals with your child, and come to an understanding that will make both of you happy. A one sided arrangement in something with such a large investment of time, energy and money really will not work out to anyone’s benefit.