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How to Help Kids Develop Social Skills with Karate

A Look at Social Skills That Are Developed in Kids Karate Classes

Developing social skills is an integral part of a child’s development. And social skills play an important role in their overall emotional health and well-being. However, for some children, socializing is something that doesn’t always come naturally, which is where physical group activities such as karate can be incredibly beneficial.

Here’s a look at the importance of developing social skills at an early age, and how karate can help children be more social and develop healthy relationships.

The Importance of Developing Social Skills in Children Early On

As with cognitive and physical skills, social skills are learned with practice, experience, and familiarity.

Children who develop social skills at a young age become more confident and comfortable in social settings and are better able to maintain healthy relationships and succeed in various aspects of their lives.

With practice, starting at a young age, children can develop the skills needed to handle social situations in school, family relationships, friendships, and eventually in their work and adult lives. These skills include communication, empathy, compassion, self-control, courtesy, and respect for others.

How to Recognize Poor Social Skills

Some kids are social butterflies, while others are shy. But shyness isn’t necessarily a sign of poor social skills.

If you’re concerned about your child being behind in regards to social skill development, here’s a look at the general child development milestones for social skills.

Ages 2 to 3:

  • Greets others

  • Takes turns talking

  • Looks at the person speaking

  • Has a sense of humour

Ages 3 to 4:

  • Communicates with words

  • Takes turns in play, such as playing board games

Ages 4 to 5:

  • Can give commands

  • Can be patient with younger children

  • Is more likely to tattle/report perceived wrongdoings

Ages 5 to 6:

  • Understands fairness

  • Understands bad words

  • Tendency to bargain

  • Can recognize the needs and wants of family and friends

Ages 6 to 7:

  • Has improved listening skills—but may still not take direction well

  • Can empathize with others

  • Communicates with gestures and postures (body language)

  • Shares and enjoys jokes

Keep in mind that these are general milestones, so even if your child doesn’t meet each one for their age group, don’t worry. It’s normal for kids to be a bit ahead or behind development milestones.

If you’re concerned that your child is far behind, it may be worth voicing your concerns with your family doctor. And if they are not quite as sociable as others in their age group, consider how karate can help.

How Karate Can Help Kids Become More Sociable

You may ask, “Is a martial arts class good for kids' social skills?”

Absolutely!  Karate classes are social, helping even the shyest kids become more sociable. The group setting helps kids feel more comfortable with others, while their personal achievements help them feel more comfortable with themselves.

Easy to Develop Friendships

Karate classes foster an environment where friendships easily form with shared goals and interests. So if your kid has trouble making friends at school, being around like-minded peers in karate may make it easier for them to make friends.

In each class, kids work together as a team to practice techniques. Along with learning techniques from the instructor, the students also learn techniques and social skills from each other. In this way they can learn and grow together, develop a strong social network, and form lasting friendships.

Promotes Social Inclusion

The team environment of karate classes means everyone is included in class activities, and social interaction is constant. This social inclusion gives kids a sense of belonging in a social group.

And the social interaction teaches kids how to play well with each other, developing emotional intelligence to succeed in social situations throughout their lives.

Reduced Anxiety

Kids in martial arts are better able to cope with stress, and as a result, tend to have reduced anxiety and improved mental health. Karate classes also help kids who experience social anxiety, especially in school, by allowing them to start fresh in a new, smaller social setting filled with like-minded peers.

With increased exposure to social interactions in karate classes, anxious kids can become more comfortable in these social settings and more confident in their abilities to interact with peers, which can help boost their social skills in other areas of life as well.

Increased Self-Confidence

Karate classes help empower kids with self-confidence by teaching them that they can achieve anything with hard work and dedication.

The physical activity, friendships formed, and personal progress kids see in karate class help to boost their self-esteem. And as they receive positive feedback from friends, parents, and instructors, their self-confidence will soar.

When kids are confident, secure, comfortable, and believe in their selves, socializing tends to be easier because they are more capable of coping, overcoming difficulties, and letting others into their lives.

Teaches Courtesy and Respect

Karate classes teach kids the important socialization skill of showing respect for others, including peers and elders. Kids learn to be respectful in a team environment through self-control, being good listeners, thinking before they act, following directions, and communicating effectively with peers and instructors. They also learn to show respect to their opponents by bowing before and after sparring.

Learning these social skills at a young age will help prepare your child to navigate the many social interactions that make up life. So whether your child is shy or hyper, or you just want to give them a leg up in their social-skill and emotional-intelligence development, consider the many developmental benefits of karate for kids that will help them maintain healthy relationships and succeed in life.


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