(6 to 12)
It sharpens focus for kids with ADHD
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All martial arts emphasize concentration, so they might seem an unlikely sport for a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Yet some experts say the highly structured approach and repetitive patterns of movements (called kata) actually help ease symptoms of the disorder. “Impulse control is a huge challenge for these kids,” says Richard B. Coolman, MD, a developmental-behavioral pediatrician at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose, CA.
“In martial arts classes, they learn to focus, clear their minds of distractions, and take control of their body movements.” The environment can be a nurturing one for kids with ADHD if the philosophy of the training center is noncompetitive. “These kids are always being told they’re doing something wrong,” says Coolman, “but in martial arts, they aren’t graded or criticized. They’re not letting down a team if they lose focus. They’re simply encouraged to give their best effort.”