Earlier this year my son, age 9, was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and severe depression. We spent weeks getting him evaluated for a slew of issues due to many phone calls and emails from his school concerned about his behavior and grades. My son is extremely bright and went from straight A’s to D’s and we couldn’t understand why. On top of the terrible grades he was acting out, extremely impulsive and always fidgeting.
Once we got the diagnosis they immediately assumed that we would medicate him and started naming prescription options before we even had a chance to wrap our head around the situation. I just remember looking at my husband and sobbing because I felt like I had failed my son, that I should have known well before now that he was suffering. We discussed over the next few days and as family decided we would try alternative methods of treating his disorders including an overhaul of our diet and adding more exercise to our routine before succumbing to prescription medication.
I immediately started researching ways to help ADHD and depression naturally and many resources kept coming back to Martial Arts. I found many articles educating the positive effects the sport has for children with ADHD/ADD and we decided to try it out. We began our journey with a Groupon purchase of 16 classes at a local Taekwondo studio (do jang) – we got a great deal and felt it would be the perfect opportunity to “test the mats”.
From day one I witnessed my timid, self conscience third grader begin to change and mature before my eyes. Lesson after lesson, week after week he began to focus, pay attention, fidget less and control his energy. Our do jang strongly encourages life skills such as respect, good attitude, loyalty, integrity, self control, perseverance among many others as we all the importance of fitness, a healthy diet, self-defense and self-confidence. They also hold the children accountable for their school grades by requesting report cards, the use of “Yes Ma’am” and “Yes Sir” to show respect to others, and requiring a positive attitude upon entering the studio.
The results are clear – Martial Arts (along with a change in diet) has single handedly helped us fight the push for prescription medication for our son. After just 2 months in Taekwondo his therapist had noticed a significant increase in his ability to pay attention and of his self worth and a huge decrease in his impulsivity. They are no longer suggesting we medicate him but simply “continue what you are doing”. Taekwondo has allowed him an outlet for his excess energy and they encourage their students to set goals and work hard to achieve them.
We just recently renewed another year contract and signed our son up for Leadership Training, which inspires them to become leaders within the do jang, at school and in the community. My son has shown so much dedication to this sport, spending 5-6 days per week in class and many hours at home practicing and stretching to prepare for his very first tournament this past weekend. He did such a great job – he won 1st place in Weapons Form, 2nd place in Form and 2nd place in One Step! We are so proud of what he has accomplished so far and can’t wait to see where this path leads him.
If you are interested in a more natural approach to your child’s ADHD/ADD please consider Martial Arts – it has honestly done wonders for my family and especially for my son. Many locations allow you a “Trial Period” and I strongly suggest using it. Encourage your child to focus and just watch your child grow as mine did over that short period. Haeng un eul bin da (Good luck!)