Martial Arts and the Brain

Martial Arts and the Brain

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” Dr. Seuss

“You just don’t understand!”

Oh but we do dear teen! The emotional and social roller coaster ride this stage of development brings about is not easily forgotten by any adult who remembers their journey through the middle and high school years. We have all been there!

When you consider the amount of changes occurring in the teen body physically, intellectually and emotionally coupled with the unpredictable ebb and flow that inevitably arises in teens’ social life, it is no wonder that oftentimes parents, teachers and coaches witness mood swings, irritability, sensitivity, self-conscious behavior/response and more!

Let’s break down what is happening emotionally and socially in the preteen & teen years!

10+ Year Olds: Emotional Development

During the preteen and teen years, we find our children experiencing the final stage of emotional development. This is a wild ride when you consider the influence hormonal changes are having on the developing mind and body through the stages of puberty.

At this stage of our children’s emotional development:

· Significant mood swings are notable in both boys and girls. With that said, parents, teachers and coaches are more likely to see girls express themselves outwardly while boys tend to struggle more internally.

o For boys, think of this analogy; a duck swimming in a pond. On the surface, you see a duck gliding smoothly across the water. But look beneath the surface and you’ll see their feet are going crazy!

o This is what parents, teachers, coaches tend to see more often in boys; cool and calm on the outside but wrestling with A LOT of big feelings, questions, challenges on the inside – just the like ducks hard working feet, unseen below the surface of the water.

· Embarrassment is common especially when coupled with self-consciousness regarding how they are feeling in their changing, developing bodies.

o In children that develop earlier than their peers, this can be even more challenging not only physically but mentally, emotionally and socially as well. It is important to be mindful and supportive of your child’s health and developmental changes especially when

they find themselves going through significant changes ahead of some of their peers.

10+ Year Olds: Social Development

At this age and stage of development, preteens and teens though extremely academically smart often struggle with sound decision making as their prefrontal cortex of the brain undergoes some MAJOR construction!

This is why you may stumble across YouTube videos of teens for example experimenting with what will happen if they take their bikes up on the roof of their house to ride them down into the awaiting pool below! Remember, brain growth and development in your child is not done until they are in their early 20’s! This is Extremely. Important. to bear in mind as you parent your preteen/teen.

During this season of life, the focus oftentimes is no longer on “What do my parents think?” but rather “What do my friends think?” This social shift from the focus and draw to parents approval to now their friends approval is a normal part of a teens development. But this by no means makes it any easier, parents!

Knowing what we know about the emotional and social stages of development for preteens and teens, how are our team of Pediatric Ninja Specialists supporting children on and beyond the mats to flourish in these areas?

1. Creating the Space Teens Need

o While some adults in teens lives may be inclined to set stricter rules with teens to protect them through this final stage of development and cling to childhood just a little bit longer, this oftentimes creates more distance between supportive adult whether that be a parent, teacher or coach and greater disconnectedness.

o That is why we create an environment with our teens on and beyond the mats that allows them to be who they are; to make mistakes, to learn how to fall physically, yes… but also mentally/emotionally and get back up again surrounded by a Team and Tribe of Support that is ready to encourage, guide and nurture through the tough moments. This is critically important; developing a space and place where teens can be themselves, explore who they are becoming with the support they need to navigate through the sea of unknowns and inevitable challenges.

2. Finding the Will Within

o As teens move through their final stages of development into adulthood, our Team takes great care in focusing upon the strength and will within on and beyond the mats. Why? Because intrinsic motivation whether a teen goes on to continuing their education right after high school or jumps right into the workforce… or both needs to know the spark they

harbor within and how to ignite it to burn even brighter especially when times of struggle and challenge come knocking.

3. Praising the Good!

o Teens oftentimes face criticism of what they are not doing well vs. what they are doing great in! Our Team chooses to be very aware and purposeful in the words we speak over our teen students, ensuring we are speaking words of life vs. talk that breaks them down. The more we affirm the good, the more teens are inclined to see the good in their choices and that even though it may feel like a wile roller coaster ride, they are on the right track!

Every part of why we do what we do is with the purposeful intention of ensuring the whole mind, body and spirit of your preteen and teen is supported.

It has been a pleasure moving through the stages of development from 5-6 year olds to teens with you all! As you can see over the course of this series, our children are constantly moving through a whole lot physically, intellectually, emotionally and socially. This is why we hold intentional, purposeful space for each developing age group so they may be nurtured and supported according to where they find themselves in their unique life’s journey.

It takes a village to raise a child! We are honored to walk alongside you all, Proud Ninja Parents and welcome your questions should you find yourselves in need of further support at any stage of your child’s development. Together we are  Strong!


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