Back to School Part II: Martial Arts and Mental Health

It’s back to school season and for most parents and children (not to mention teachers and school staff who help them grow and learn), it’s a season like no other. This is because so many children (primary age) and young adults (secondary and secondary schools) have not been to class for more than a year, at least not systematically.

The thought of sitting at a table with other children (some of whom are friends, most of them unknown) and with authority in front is, to say the least, intimidating. And with children, it can shake you mentally. It’s hard to find a solution.

Here is the first paragraph of the CDC’s mental health website:

“Being mentally healthy during childhood means reaching developmental and emotional milestones and learning healthy social skills and how to cope with problems. Mentally healthy children have a positive quality of life and can function well at home, at school and in their communities. ”

The Black Belt program and the Black Belt mentality help set these milestones for children. And this mental strength helps in every stage of their young life.

This week, my wife and I accompanied our youngest to her first day in 1st grade (kindergarten was a completely online experience) and she was the most comfortable six-year-old girl you had ever seen. Until it’s time to enter the class, then, and Mom and Dad leave.

Her face wrinkled a little, she waved and almost cried. It was all we could do to “not save” her from the ranks of students who rushed to class. But we stood nearby and waved at her as she entered. And at the end of the day, she beamed, bouncing out of the building full of joy to share some stories about her day.

Like many parents, we signed up for karate (with our older child, who was also only 6 at the time) in order to gain self-confidence, self-esteem, strength and leadership. Her progress toward the black belt, week after week and year after year, has shown us that these qualities can be developed, even if the child does not seem to have them at first.

“It’s time to go karate! Are you excited?” It doesn’t have to be children at first. But because a karate school is a safe, friendly, exciting and challenging but supportive environment, children respond and are successful. The vast majority of Ripple Effect Martial Arts students go on to first grade to get a black belt – four years later. Anyone who has done this can tell you that it requires incredible mental resilience. But it’s the hardness you grow on the road.

David Berry

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