It’s time to talk about the emotional benefits of studying martial arts. Let’s face it – kids have a hard time managing their emotions. You’d be hard-pressed to find a parent who hasn’t had to deal with their share of temper tantrums. It’s exhausting.
Here’s the thing: it’s exhausting for kids, too. Toddlers have temper tantrums, but even older kids can struggle with emotional self-control. When you add in all the distractions of modern life – including the devices that kids always seem to be using – it’s easy to understand why they might have a hard time with these things.
Mindfulness is the practice of staying in the present moment. People sometimes associate mindfulness with Eastern religions like Buddhism, but it can be a secular practice, too. And it’s something that martial arts students learn every time they step into a class with us.
We’ve already told you about how martial arts helps kids improve their focus – and focus is essential to the practice of mindfulness. It helps kids learn to maintain their concentration even when there are background noises and distractions.
Mindfulness helps them learn emotional control, too. A mindful person can recognize an emotional response without giving in to it. Kids might not be meditating, but they practice mindfulness in every class.
Over time, children internalize the practice of mindfulness. We rarely mention that word, especially with young kids, and yet the lessons of mindfulness are part of what we do. They see their instructors demonstrate patience and control, and they learn to emulate their behavior.
There’s plenty of research that shows the benefit of mindfulness. It improves mental health, and it makes it easy for kids to control negative emotions. Many adults turn to mindfulness training as a way of managing their stress. When kids learn mindfulness early, it reduces their stress later in life.
Sometimes, the most important lessons we learn are not those we set out to learn. That’s the case with mindfulness in our classes.