Making friends and participating in school can be very difficult for children who shrink from the spotlight. Children who are socially awkward usually have a very hard time engaging with peers or defending themselves physically, mentally, or emotionally.
Painfully shy children often suffer from anxiety and behavioral inhibitions in social situations. As a parent, you may notice that your child is always frozen in fear with his/her eyes on the floor and shoulders down. Watching your son or daughter clam up in social situations can be very frustrating. Fortunately, martial arts can coax your child out of his/her shell and help him/her become more confident.
Here are some of the ways martial arts can help your shy child blossom and find his/her inner strength:
1) Boosts your child’s confidence
Enrolling your child in a sport can help boost confidence and social interactions. If your child suffers from crippling shyness, team sports such as soccer should not be the first sport he/she signs up for. According to behavioral psychologists, the best way to encourage your child to get over his/her fears is to enroll him/her in a sport that boosts one-on-one interaction, such as martial arts. Martial arts allows your child to shine individually without competing for field time. The more your kid shines, the more confident he/she becomes.
Martial arts are very structured, and there are routines and techniques your child must master. Some socially anxious children are afraid of failure, so they never try at all. However, as your child learns new routines and drills, his/her confidence goes up. This confidence will spread to other areas of your kid’s life, and he/she will have an easier time confronting challenges in school and at home.
2) Boosts self-esteem
One of the most important lessons a child learns training martial arts is a positive sense of self. By setting goals in the class and accomplishing each one of them, children gain a sense of achievement that boosts their self-esteem. It helps them to realize that they can work hard and improve in other areas of their life as well.
3) Bully-proofs your child
One of the most frustrating things about a shy child is that they have a hard time speaking up for themselves. This makes them a prime target for bullies. Furthermore, as they grow older, they may have a harder time saying no. Shy and socially anxious children are more likely to give in to peer pressure and make poor decisions. Martial arts gives your child the skills to defend himself physically if he ever needs to do so. Your child also gets the confidence to speak up and defend himself mentally and emotionally.
4) Social skills and friendship
If you want to improve your child’s social skills, enroll him/her in a martial arts class that’s specifically designed for kids. Here, he/she can gradually interact with other children. Martial arts gyms foster a non-threatening family environment that your child can easily become a part of. The structured atmosphere encourages a shy child to open up and make friends. Martial arts also teaches your child the basics of compassion, empathy, and conflict resolution, which can make him/her more confident when interacting with others and making friends.
5) Mental toughness
Sometimes, children who are physically small are more timid and shy because they feel they cannot stand up for themselves. Martial arts teaches kids that size is not the most important factor in any confrontation. A person who is small but disciplined and hardworking can defeat a bigger person in a confrontation. The child learns that they can overcome any challenges if they are strategic and hardworking, and if they regularly practice their techniques. This skill gives a shy child the mental toughness to conquer other hurdles in their life.
6) Improves problem-solving skills
Shy kids usually have a hard time working under pressure. In fact, whenever they are put on the spot, many of them shut down. They may even lose their sense of personal motivation. However, when kids are enrolled in a martial arts class, they are taught how to react quickly to situations and how to think on their feet.
When sparring with an opponent, there is very little time to deliberate or make slow responses. With time, your child will learn to work under pressure and they will no longer freeze when faced with time constraints.
7) Fosters Leadership skills
As your child moves from one level to the next one, they will be tasked with teaching new kids the basics of martial arts. The purpose of these lessons is to teach a child to be patient and a good listener. Your child will also learn leadership skills that will encourage him/her to open up and become more responsible. This skill will translate to other areas of his/her life, as he/she learns to overcome shyness and take initiative in situations that require him/her to show leadership.
Respect is one of the major lessons a child learns in martial arts. Your child will be taught to respect his teachers because they have more skill and experience. He will also be taught to respect his peers. Above all, your child will learn to respect himself/herself. Martial arts encourages children to appreciate the worth of others and to see the true value of other people. Therefore, your child’s teachers and fellow students will appreciate him/her and see his/her true value.
All children experience shyness at some point in their life. However, for some children, shyness can be debilitating. It can rob them of the opportunity to have a proper childhood and leave them feeling like outcasts – which can lead to even more serious mental health issues.
If your child has a hard time participating in social activities, martial arts can help him/her get out of his/her comfort zone. With lots of practice and plenty of encouragement from you and his/her instructors, your shy child will become more open to making new friends and trying new things.
Bring your child for a complimentary introductory trial class to learn more about martial arts.
-By Kitt Canaria