Teaching ADHD Kids Martial Arts

ADHD Martial Arts

Firstly I want to say that scientific stats say that only 3-5% of kids have ADHD.

Knowing this I think most teachers in the general school system and many parents claim at least 50% of kids have it because they struggle to control a class and it’s a great excuse to remove the responsibility away from themselves.

I think a lot of the time kids are just being kids and they have a lot more energy than most adults which makes it hard for us to keep up with them. I’ll always say that teaching kids martial arts is harder than teaching adults.

So, scientists/doctors say 3-5% of kids in general have ADHD… probably 5-8% of kids learning Martial Arts have a real case of this. The reason is because parents who have kids with boundless unfocussed energy look for a way to help focus and/or drain that excessive energy in the hopes that it will make their lives easier.

Teaching kids is tough and teaching kids with actual ADHD is obviously tougher but it’s not impossible and it is worth the effort when you get through to them.

Training/learning a martial art takes energy, so if you can capture the attention of a kid with a seemingly endless supply of energy then you have the opportunity to create a great Martial Artist.

I want to be up front and say that I am not an expert in this area and obviously results will vary. I’m offering this advice because a lot of people have been asking me this question. Here are my tips for teaching kids with ADHD:

1. Break your class lessons into smaller task chunks. This means you focus on a skill/activity for no more than 5 minutes.

2. Consistency in class rules. Often these kids will resist change and inconsistent behavior/rules. So if you have certain rules in your dojo you should enforce them. The consistency will be accepted over time.

3. Teach using different methods to get your point across, visually through actions or pictures and then verbally or in writing.

4. Provide warning that an activity is going to change. If you are training a drill tell the class that in 2 minutes you will be doing something else, then give them a 1 minute warning.

5. Keep new activities related when possible. If you are teaching a kicking technique, switch to a kicking drill, then a kicking game (try not to do completely unrelated activities as this will meet resistance.

6. Teach the kids self monitoring behavior. For example if a child keeps blurting out things during class then provide positive reinforcement for the behavior of raising a hand before speaking.

7. Be supportive. Look for their strengths and compliment them for their positive traits. Whenever you see them making an improvement offer them sincere praise.

These tips should help you with the kids in your classes. The great news is that these tips will be just as helpful with all of your students, not just the ADHD kids so start using them today.

Now, as I said I am not an expert on this issue so I have been researching information on this subject and one of the best books I have found is this one…

ADHD Report

It explains ways to help kids with ADHD get the focus they need to learn and grow and be great young adults without the use of heavy prescription drugs.

I think too many people like to point fingers and make claims and there are far too many kids on control drugs to cure ADHD when they may not even suffer from it.

This book will show you ways to help the kids that really do have an attention deficit disorder in a healthy way.

I don’t often recommend products but I think this is some great info and I hope it helps keep some kid off heavy medication that in the long run causes more harm then good.

If you have kids that you really feel have ADHD then use the tips I’ve given you and if you can approach the parents without offending them then send them this link…

Parents ADHD Report

I hope this helps your young students to continue training and learning your martial art.

I wish you all the best

AJ Perry

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12 Responses to “Teaching ADHD Kids Martial Arts”

  1. Teaching kids with attention issues Martial Arts is actually an amazing way to give them focus, discipline and also self confidence.

    I’ve seen it time and time again in Taekwondo schools of friends of mine. Parents have tried all other options, and when they take up martial arts, the child changes dramatically as they progress.

    Martial arts is definitelyworking for sooo many people. We just need to get that net spread wider now…


  2. SFLAOL says:

    I will keep this on my list. I actually plan to enroll my brother (who has ADHD) to a Wing Chun Martial Arts too hoping that he will finally find a field where he will really really get into. He almost tried everything, sports, guitar, dancing, etc. But he will just got interested at the start. I hope this will work. Thank you for sharing!

    Please vote for South Florida Academy of Learning (A Special Needs School) win 500K Kohl’s Cares Contest. Go to http://www.pleasevoteforus.com/ and vote! It’s a Free Vote! Thanks!

  3. Aksell says:

    I stumbled on your site accidentally but I am glad I did. You have put together some good info. I bookmarked it and will be sharing it with my colleagues. Thanks.

  4. This advice are very useful. I had been using them in my karatedo class for kids on summer classes. It was really useful in reinforcing them with rewards in good behaviors. Praises should also not be taken for granted. Kids love it as much as we adults do.
    I would like to get your book as soon as I can.

    Keep up the good work.

  5. Excellent advice. I hope that you will consider submitting this article to World Martial Arts Magazine for publication. I’m sure that the info could benefit a lot of martial arts school owners.

    Best Regards,
    Richard Hackworth
    Editor: World Martial Arts Magazine

  6. Dennis says:

    I too agree with Sarah, My Instructor has us working all day, every day (mon- fri) at the local Jr. High schools. The staff praises our ability to control the worst behaviors using martial arts. One thing we do is at the beginning of class, after making the kids sit quietly for attendance to be taken, we have the whole class sit completely still for 15 seconds with legs crossed, hands on their knees and looking straight forward. Some may think 15 seconds is not long, but with these kids it can be a life time. When we first started it would take an entire 50 minute class period. Now it takes about 5-10 minutes. And some of these kids have been in the program the entire year. But dilligence on the part of the instructors is forcing the kids to comply to be able to do something they really love to do, Taekwondo.

  7. admin says:

    Hi Sara,

    Thanks for contributing. I agree that people can let things slide to try and keep the peace but it only makes things harder in the long run.

    It can be difficult for an Instructor to discipline the kids for fear of upsetting the parents but often the parents are hoping that the Instructor can teach their kids discipline for them.

    This is an interesting topic and I look forward to hearing more opinions and helpful advice from different Instructors around the world.


  8. Sara says:

    I have worked with ADHD and ADD kids for a long time, and in fact they are probably my favorite kids to work with. My biggest advise is do not cut them any slack, if they are showing you a behavior that would be unacceptable in another student then sit them out until they are ready to behave. They are used to getting their way, others having low expectations of them and not having to listen because of their ADHD or ADD. Parents will respect you for sitting them out and the kid will eventually learn to behave in class like everyone else does.

    Just my 2 cents from my personal experience.

  9. admin says:

    If anyone has more to add to this post please post a comment and share your ADHD experiences for the other Instructors that read this.

    ps. For anyone interested, here’s a link to the review of the
    “Martial Games for Kids” Manual

  10. Aloha AJ

    I reviewed your book martial arts games for kids. I found this blog with my google alerts so good job. My background is special eduction for physical education and you are spot on your advice here.

  11. [...] Teaching ADHD Kids Martial Arts | TEACHING ADHD KIDS [...]

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