Our children live in a busy world. School, sports, friends, family life, and other activities tend to fill their day with a lot of movement and constant changes. It can become easy to tune out when the teacher is explaining an assignment or to forget to focus on the coach while he is giving directions for the next drill. Video games might take precedent over remembering to take out the trash and do the dishes, while school assignments might get forgotten in a school locker or backpack overnight.
All of these are common issues that can be solved with one practical skill: mindfulness. Mindfulness is something that must be taught and learned. Children are not the only ones who struggle with being mindful; adults struggle with this too.
If we can set our children up for success by teaching them how to be mindful and by giving them opportunities to practice mindfulness, they will be able to carry that skill with them well into adulthood.
Here is how martial arts is the best sport to help improve your child’s mindfulness.
1) Martial Arts Require Your Entire Body And Mind To Be Present
Martial arts is unique in that it not only requires your physical body to be present and active, but it also requires your mind to do the same. New students are often initially surprised at how much mental sharpness is required from them; most people start with the belief that it is just good for their physical body.
The basic requirement that both your body and mind must be present and work together will help your child begin the process of learning to hone in on mindfulness. They will have to stop thinking about other things and focus their sole attention on what their body is doing.
A lack of mindfulness in martial arts will sometimes result in them injuring themselves or one of their partners, giving them an opportunity to practice this skill.
2) Martial Arts Make You Mindful Of Others
There are definitely aspects of martial arts that allow for individual practice, but there are, of course, plentiful opportunities for working with another person. Sometimes your child will be the “lower rank” as far as skillset goes, and other times they will be the “higher rank.” They will often have opportunities to work with both younger and older students as well. This means that they will have opportunities to work with various people at different ability levels.
While working with a newer student, your child will promptly learn that they must be incredibly mindful of how hard they strike the pads their partner is holding, or how hard they are hitting their partner while sparring.
They will also learn to be mindful that newer students sometimes mess up and miss a pad and that if they are not fully focused on the task at hand, they may end up getting hit. Your child will learn that through mindfulness, they can help a newer student learn new skills as they learn about themselves and stay safe in the process.
When your child has opportunities to work with students who are further along in knowledge and abilities than they are, they will learn to be mindful to listen and follow any tips or guidance that the other student is offering to them.
They will learn that even though someone may be smaller or younger than they are, they may know more than they do and they can learn a great deal from them if they allow their minds to be open and willing to learn.
In doing so, children will learn that the power of mindfulness allows them to further explore their martial art safely as they get more reps with their partner and are better able to explore the practical application of their techniques.
3) Martial Arts Help Children Be Mindful Of Emotions
Martial arts offers plenty of challenges. The skillsets are not something that is easily handed to them, but rather something your child will fail at before succeeding. As children wrestle through failure and eventually succeed, they are no doubt going to experience a wide range of emotions. As your child experiences these emotions, mindfulness will help them to manage their emotions and learn from them.
Mindfulness of your child’s emotions will help them to leverage their emotions into growth. Frustration that a particular technique is not working for them could end in feeling defeated, or it could end in them looking for more opportunities to practice the technique. The sole difference between those two outcomes is whether or not they are practicing mindfulness.
Martial arts will also help your child be mindful of their partner’s emotions. They will learn to recognize when their partner is displaying frustration or is feeling disappointed, and they will be able to offer assistance and support. They may be able to encourage their partner to try again or offer to work with their partner a little bit extra after class.
Their partners will help them grow in the same way that they will help their partners grow, so learning to be mindful of their partner’s feelings and emotions will help them support both their partner and inadvertently, themselves.
Martial Arts Is The Best Sport For Improving Mindfulness
Martial arts offers a wide array of opportunities to practice and learn the skill of mindfulness. Through working on skills, techniques, or movements, they will learn mindfulness to connect their mind to their body to succeed. Through working with other people, they will learn to be mindful of their partner’s body and emotions, as well as their own. They will be able to learn that mindfulness opens up doors for more and more learning.
Best of all, their mindfulness will begin to translate to other areas of their life. They will begin to be more mindful of when a coach or teacher is talking, or about what school assignments they should get done before hopping onto a video game. If you are looking for the perfect sport to help improve your child’s mindfulness, martial arts offers the best opportunities to do so.
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