3 Ways Martial Arts Can Help With Back to School Anxiety
Greetings, BMA Parents!
It seems like just yesterday we were celebrating the end of school with our students, and in the blink of an eye, it’s already time for our students to re-enter the classroom.
As some of our students head back to familiar school buildings, friends and teachers, other students may be surrounded by new classmates, a new school, or going to school for the very first time. Understandably, this idea of “new” can be intimidating, overwhelming and anxiety-inducing for kids of all ages. Check out our top three ways that martial arts training can help your child or teen have a less stressful and more confident back-to-school experience this fall.
1. Familiarity & Routine
As parenting experts agree, familiarity, routine and having some predictability for a child’s schedule are imperative during times of change. Every year, we have parents comment to our instruction team that their once karate-loving child is suddenly pushing back against attending classes. We expect this!
It’s likely there will be days where your child will come to you and express an interest in not attending class after they had a very stressful or busy day at school. While we always understand and empathize if a student has a serious mental health day, we do encourage parents to step in and reinforce with their child or teen that being at the dojo is actually to their benefit! The familiarity of the classes, their consistent structure, their instructors and classmates are all part of the predictability model that will give them comfort once they’re on the mat, even if they don’t want to go initially. And of course, we always make sure each student has fun and leaves with a smile!
2. Confidence & Self-Esteem Building
Each day, our coaches and mentors always make it a top priority to build up the confidence and self-esteem of every student that walks through our doors. At a time where, unfortunately, some students will go back to school and experience harm to their self-esteem by peers, martial arts classes are a place where that self-esteem could be quickly built back up with positive, consistent reinforcement from their role models. Each time a high five is given, a positive compliment or conversation takes place, or a stripe or belt is earned, it’s like adding a marble to a child’s confidence jar!
Particularly when it comes to our 10-14 year old students, we want to make sure there are positive, encouraging role models that are active in their lives. As much as we know our parents of teens love and encourage their children, the truth is sometimes they need to hear it from someone else. As teenagers gain and crave independence, the source of their self-image is going to grow more independent from what their parents tell them.
Oftentimes, teens will base their self-image off of the opinions of peers, and as we all know, this unfortunately is where their confidence can quickly and steeply plummet. As influential figures in the lives of our teens, we look for ways in each class to remind them of their wonderful traits and abilities, however this takes consistency and repetitiveness for it to stick with them. In this aspect, attendance and involvement is key!
3. It’s Great for the Brain!
Last but not least – let’s think about the brain. Many of you are familiar with the terms Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin and Endorphin, but how does this relate to martial arts and back-to-school season? Pretty simply, actually! When your child or teen is stressed, overwhelmed or anxious, the levels of the stress hormone Cortisol are quickly spiking in their brains, amplifying those negative feelings. Exercise, however, reduces the amount of stress receptors in our brains, and creates a surplus of the neurochemical Endorphin that can create almost instant stress-relief in all ages. Bonus: Exercise also helps with long-term memory formation. Say hello to better focus and retention when studying!
As you can see, there are several benefits to keeping your child consistent in the dojo as we head into the new school year, and we look forward to teaming up with our dojo parents to help each and every child have a successful, stress-free and fun start to school. As always, reach out to your Sensei if there’s ever anything we can do to help your child – it’s what we’re here for!
Let’s all have a great back to school season, and we can’t wait to see you on the mat.
-Sensei Katie, Sensei Rich & the BMA Team