Teach your child respect, courtesy and perseverance through martial arts.
If you are looking for an activity that will teach your child respect, courtesy and perseverance, martial arts might be a good fit.
Martial arts is the general term for self-defense sports such as karate, kung fu, tai chi and tae kwon do.
Martial arts also can be an effective option for children with learning needs such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), because the training develops skills of concentration and self-control, which often are underdeveloped in kids with ADHD.
The Walker family of Liberty Township in Delaware County took the full-on family approach to developing their fitness and focus. Nearly four years ago, the whole family - dad Lawrence, mom Patricia and the kids, Trey and Jessica - signed up for classes at Turner's ATA Black Belt Academy in Powell.
Today, Mr. Walker has a second-degree black belt and is a second-level instructor; his wife has her first-degree black belt; and their children, Trey, now 14 and Jessica, now 10, have earned second-degree black belts.
Trey also has ADHD. His father said the classes have helped Trey with focus, concentration and staying on task.
"He has better eye-to-eye contact and self-control over his emotions," Walker said.
Receiving instant feedback is one of the many benefits martial arts classes offer students with ADHD, explained Jay Turner, owner of the ATA Martial Arts and Black Belt Academy, which is now in its 27th year of operation with two locations.
Turner explained that, at school, an ADHD student who loses focus during a lesson may not know it until they take the test. If a child loses focus during a tae kwon do class, Turner said he or she will notice right away that they are not doing the same thing as the rest of the group.
"Parents tell us that the program has done more for their child than structured, professional therapy that they've gone to," Turner said.
Turner said the Academy also is part of the World Traditional Taekwondo Union, a martial arts organization that provides support and teaching methods for ADHD students.
"We have a lot of resources due to that," Turner said.
Walker said, "(Martial arts) has benefited both kids quite a bit with focus and discipline," and he appreciates that the classes also stress values that both parents practice at home.
"It is more than just me and my wife saying it," Walker said. "They are hearing it from someone else. That reinforces it."
Walker said that martial arts also has enhanced Trey's confidence and social interaction.
"We've definitely seen improvement in school related to interaction," Walker said. "He's more confident in raising his hand and giving input."
Competition can be a part of the training, but it is not the focus or the goal, said Turner.
"A large portion of people know that their kids won't be professional athletes," Turner said. "They want their kids to be physically healthy without the 'have to win' mentality."
During classes, students learn courtesy and respect for each other and the instructor, and how to focus in an emotionally safe environment.
"There is no pressure from instructors or their peers to perform at any particular level other than their own goal," Turner said.