The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that approximately 11 percent of American children suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ( ADHD ) and those numbers are expected to increase. Learning disabilities also are on the rise.

When a child is diagnosed with ADHD or a learning disability, parents are understandably eager to find the right treatment to help their child. The most common treatment options include behavior therapy, medication and school accommodations and interventions. Of course, most parents also are always on the lookout for ways to compliment these treatments. Exercise is one option.

Unfortunately, children with attention and learning issues can have a difficult time finding a physical activity that suits their unique needs. Martials arts are an option for a variety of reasons. Many parents report that participating in a martial art such Kung Fu can go a long way toward improving a child’s attention, executive functioning skills and self-control.

Here are just some ways that martial arts classes can benefit children who suffer from ADHD or other attention or learning disorders.

  1. A focus on self-improvement. Competing against their peers can be tough on some kids. Martial arts allows these kids to work at their own pace without worrying about keeping up with their peers because self-improvement, not besting others, is the ultimate goal.
  2. An emphasis on self-control. When a child’s focus drifts during a martial arts training session, they are asked to assume the ready stance. This allows the child an opportunity to reset and refocus without judgement.
  3. Provides a safe outlet. Kicking and other movements allow children to work out frustration in a controlled environment.
  4. Acceptance. The martial arts has a strong emphasis on respect. Students are encouraged to support one another and build one another up no matter how far along a student is or is not.
  5. Increased coordination. When a child has trouble with motor skills, the deliberate movements of martial arts helps them to feel more comfortable in their own body. Further, the repetitive nature of these movements make them easier to master.

Kids dealing with ADHD or learning disabilities can find it difficult to find an exercise or sports activity that suits their unique needs. The martial arts provide such an outlet while also allowing them to feel like they are part of a team or something larger than themselves. This is especially important for kids who sometimes feel left out of sports or other activities.