On 21 February, 2019
If you’re like most parents, it goes without saying that you absolutely adore your child, but you’d love it if they would do certain things without having to be told all the time.
Maybe it’s doing their chores or remembering not to interrupt when you’re talking to other adults or having their homework done before bed.
In short, you’d love it if your child had more self-control, if they were able to remember the rules and maintain good habits all on their own.
Well, you’re far from alone.
Many parents have found a solution, too. They’ve learned that one of the many ways martial arts benefits children is by developing self-discipline.
Self-Discipline Is Essential for Your Child’s Wellbeing
One of the best things a parent can do for their child is to help them to develop self-discipline. It’s an absolutely vital skill that can have a positive impact on the rest of their life:
“Research suggests that superior results on a delayed-gratification task during the toddler years is associated with better performance in school and in jobs, healthier relationships, and even fewer chronic diseases.”
There is no lack of studies that prove this, either.
Perhaps the most famous is the “Stanford Marshmallow Test”, where children were offered the popular treat but told they’d receive another if they could put off eating it for 15 minutes. Those who were able to resist were later found to also be higher achievers in other areas of life. This included everything from SAT scores to BMIs (Body Mass Indexes).
While that was considered a landmark study at the time, plenty more have been done since then to substantiate these findings.
For example, a study done in 2014 showed that people who excel at self-control are actually much happier than those who struggle with the trait. Further research that year also proved a link between self-discipline and overall life satisfaction.
Not surprisingly, people who display high levels of self-control also have an easier time avoiding temptation, a trait every parent would love to develop in their child.
5 Reasons Martial Arts Builds Discipline in Children
Of course, most parents already know that self-discipline is important and would love nothing more than to raise a child who has mastered self-control.
The question is, how?
There are a number of ways to promote self-control in your children. One very simple method is just holding them accountable when they misbehave, so they self-monitor their own behaviour going forward.
Likewise, you can also reward behaviour that demonstrates self-discipline. A common example is providing an allowance for dutifully carrying out weekly chores without needing to be reminded.
However, one of the best methods is simply signing up your son or daughter for martial arts classes.
While martial arts benefits children a number of ways, it might be best known for how it instills the importance of self-discipline into even the youngest of minds.
1. Self-Control Is at the Heart of Martial Arts
Everything about martial arts is built on a foundation of self-control.
This is obvious in the regimented way many Eastern martial arts practices are run. They often begin with the class bowing to the instructor and then the instructor bowing back. There may be stretching or other warmup routines that every student must participate in before class can formally begin.
Sparring sessions often begin and end with bows, as well – a mutual sign of respect between participants.
Even in more Western arts like boxing and wrestling, this kind of regimented approach is consistent. Someone who’s late to class must go through the initial routine before they can join in. One who refuses to bow or shake hands isn’t allowed to spar again until they do.
This means that every student makes self-discipline a priority. If they don’t, they’ll soon find that the sport isn’t a good fit. That kind of atmosphere can actually make something like peer-pressure an incredibly positive force in your child’s life.
Older kids or those who otherwise have higher ranks will be proof to your child that being disciplined pays off. In the world of martial arts, self-discipline is “cool.” So, martial arts benefits children by making this all-important trait something they actually want to attain.
2. Rank Is Based Largely on Self-Discipline
Most martial arts depend on some kind of belt system. Generally, your child will start as a white belt with the goal of working toward reaching the pinnacle: a black belt.
Depending on the martial art or even the instructor, moving from one belt to the next usually involves a number of different requirements.
Regular attendance is one. Proven proficiency in certain skills is another. Doing well at tournaments and competitions can play a role, too.
Whatever the case, no instructor will promote a student who doesn’t show self-control. It would be hard to imagine any student could do well without it, but even if they somehow managed to check all the other boxes, if they lack self-discipline, they’ll watch others pass them up until that changes.
3. Martial Artists Are Responsible for Their Own Success
The great thing about martial arts is that it’s a nice mix between an individual and team sport.
On the one hand, you can’t really spar by yourself. You need someone to compete against. It also helps to have someone who can critique your mastery of each skill and give you feedback about how to improve.
At the same time, every martial artist knows they have to put in extra time on their own in order to continue progressing. This may entail anything from working out to practicing moves to sparring sessions with a punching bag.
Even during class time and when working with an experienced instructor, students need to hold themselves accountable for paying attention and asking questions when necessary.
Martial arts benefits children because it puts them in a position where they are 100% accountable for their own success.
In team sports, your child may lose a game even though they did everything right. If that continues happening, it probably won’t be long until they stop giving their all. Soon, they’ll lose focus and self-discipline won’t be nearly as important. After all, no matter how hard they push themselves, their teammates are still largely responsible for their success.
That’s not to say team sports don’t have their place as well. It’s just that martial arts make it very clear how much self-control has to offer. Honing this kind of focus is actually one of the reasons martial arts are great for children who have ADHD.
4. Memorization Is the Secret to Mastering Martial Arts
Memorization is one of the key elements to mastering martial arts. Much of the individual practice-time referenced above is spent literally memorizing different elements of the sport.
One common example of this is the kata in karate and judo. Many other Eastern martial arts have similar practices, whereby students carry out a choreographed set of movements. Some students train year-round to perfect these patterns, which they will then perform at tournaments.
In this case, martial arts discipline children by enticing them to memorize and then practice the same moves over and over all on their own.
Even without katas or patterns – as in the case of boxing, kickboxing, wrestling, jiujitsu, and many other martial arts – there is still an emphasis on memorization. Principles – not just moves – are drilled over and over, so students always know how to react, something that’s impossible without great self-control.
5. Most Importantly: Martial Arts Is Fun
Chores can help build self-control.
Schoolwork can, as well.
The only problem is that very few children find those tasks very enjoyable.
Martial arts, on the other hand, is a lot of fun. Even with all the discipline involved, good instructors know how to make their ancient art forms approachable and enjoyable for younger students.
Plus, most children take great pride in being martial artists. It’s “cool” to tell their friends that they’re in karate, wrestling, taekwondo, etc.
Even though it’s a lot of fun, this is one more incentive for them to keep showing up to class, where they will continue to build their self-control.
Put Your Child on the Path to Self-Discipline
Few traits can predict your child’s future happiness and wellbeing like self-discipline. As countless studies have shown, not even affluence, stable environments, or current personality can best self-control as a measurement for what the future will hold.
The good news is that martial arts benefits children in a number of ways, one of which is in promoting the development of self-discipline. While it’s never too late to start, the sooner your child begins practicing their preferred form, the sooner they’ll begin mastering self-control, too.
Best of all, you can get them started for free. Find a Martial Arts class near you now.