It's no secret: toddlers have boundless energy. As a parent, determining how to channel that energy is no easy task. Martial arts may be the answer. A common misconception is that martial arts is about learning how to fight, but in reality, it's about building discipline, self-esteem, and physical fitness in an encouraging environment. Here's what your toddler will get out of martial arts:
Prepare for school. Martial arts exposes children to a structured learning environment. Kids learn how to adapt to new surroundings with unfamiliar people, similar to their first experiences in school. Initially, this is challenging for preschool-aged kids, but through fun drills and activities, they learn how to adapt. Come the first day of school, being in a new environment is less intimidating.
Adopt an active lifestyle. The earlier kids are exposed to fitness, the more likely they are to adopt an active lifestyle. Children under 5 years old should spend at least three house a day being physically active. Martial arts keeps toddlers engaged and moving for the entire class. Exercises and games build strength, coordination, and balance. To kick, for example, you need to balance on one leg while maintaining good posture and stability.
Build self-esteem and confidence. Young children focus on learning basic kicks, punches, and coordination techniques to move to the next level of training. With the encouragement of instructors and teammates, students progressively build confidence to master new skills. Martial arts is structured so students have to earn their belt, which instills a sense a pride and in how far they have come. The sport motivates kids to set goals and create an action plan—and stick to it—to achieve those goals.
Learn social skills. All activities in martial arts class are designed to promote sportsmanship, fair play, teamwork, and camaraderie. Learning new martial arts techniques requires partner work, so students naturally develop a rapport and rhythm while working together. The experiences create a bond that extends beyond the mat. These skills are essential to excel in school, team sports, and other extracurricular activities.
Improve focus and concentration. Toddlers have notoriously short attention spans. Martial arts is about more than kicking and punching; it requires focus and concentration. Learning combinations requires a toddler's full attention span to execute with coordination, strength, and accuracy. Targets are various sizes, which requires kids to problem solve to determine the best technique to complete the challenge. At more advanced stages, the targets are moving, adding an extra layer of focus.