View Full Version : Children and Tai Chi

05-14-2005, 01:28 PM
Is Tai Chi okay for children? I have a ten year old who suffers from asthma and I am looking for an exercise program that promotes his health, not aggravates it. He is VERY bright and open to all forms of spiritualism. His gross motor skills are lacking and I thought the relaxed pace of Tai Chi would help him also. Any comments?

05-14-2005, 04:46 PM
Tai Chi is very suitable for children in general. Dr. Lam has looked at the topic, and has an instructional tape geared for children.

Tai Chi also tends to be highly appropriate for people with asthma and people with coordination problems. Because the pacing is slow and relaxation is a NEEDED part of training, the load on the airways is not great. I suffer reactive airway problems playing soccer or racing a bicycle, but have never had a problem doing Tai Chi (of course, I've never tried the San Shou ("Loose hands"), or combative training aspect of Tai Chi). Asthma is one of the famous psychosomatic illnesses, at least partially reactive to stress. Tai Chi tends to be a good way of lowering stress. Your child's particular case of course is his own, and you would need his pediatrician's clearance first.

The other issue is motivation. I have yet to see a child who at age ten is motivated to use a tape handed to them by an adult. A teacher skilled with children can work motivational wonders, while a different teacher can increase stress, to the extent the child is intimidated, pressured to perform, or embarrassed by the teaching. Some children enjoy learning with a parent, so you might consider this as an option, either in a class or with a tape. Bill

05-14-2005, 07:08 PM
Thank you Bill! I found your post most helpful.

My son will be homeschooled in the fall. Since his asthma is temperature and humidity reactive, we are looking forward to keeping him out of cold snaps. Tai Chi will serve as PE credit during the colder months, longer if he so choses. His asthma has never been psychosomatic, thankfully. I will check with his pediatrician though, just to be safe. Thank you for suggesting it.

Fortunately, motivation is not a problem for us. Our son is one of those rare children who truly loves to learn. He recently asked to go to an East Indian ballet based on the Hindu theory of creation while still maintaining the "kid" in him. We are going to see monster trucks tomorrow. He will probably read for the entire two hour ride. What a problem I have!

I do not know what the future holds for him but I want him comfortable with his intellect, his body and his spirit. I feel we should let him experience many forms of spiritualism and allow him to find his own way. If he can find one that keeps him balanced AND fit, I will have succeeded.

Our area only has one teacher that I am aware of. Until I find someone, I will certainly do the tape with him. Better to have someone to giggle with until it comes more naturally!

Thank you again!

05-14-2005, 09:35 PM
Kathkali is excellent for the expressive child who shows an interest and a good cultural orientation. The dance, mudras, body external training is a good start.

Dr. Paul Lam
05-14-2005, 11:38 PM
your son sounds like a perfect tai chi student. tai chi of course is good for children although the teaching methodology should be different. personal teaching is desirable, also the lesson should be shorter, more visual, more action and some explanation of martial art application can add to their interest. be good to find a teacher familiar with teaching children.

one of our master trainer, Pat Lawson has much experience workign children, you can find her contact from instrcutor's page. i am sure she would love to give you any guide by email.

05-15-2005, 09:13 AM
Tai Chi is good for children. When ny friends children stay they like to join in with me during my practice. While I have not tried to teach them anything and always keep it informal, the children have benefited from it. One of the children is special needs and her concentration and attention span has improved. All of their co-ordination has improved too.

While I think Tai Chi si great for kids, they should be open to it too. When my friends children are here and want to join in, I try to make it fun and use music too.

One of Dr. lams videos is for young people, which may help. Good luck. I am sure it will help asthma as things that promote good posture also help keep the airways free too.

05-15-2005, 07:08 PM
As Caroline has mentioned Dr. Lam has a video for young people. I personally have a copy and practice that short form for my personal use, enjoy it very much, and hope to teach young people this fun form some day. It is a condensed version of the 42-movement international form and is trimmed down to a 15-movement form.

Although i enjoy it so much i feel it might be a bit much for a 10 year old to learn and yet have fun with at the same time. I had an 11 year old student learn the TCA form, but it was a bit difficult to keep her attention span. However, the form did help improve her condition and gave her more confidence, so her parents were happy with the desired results.

After medical approval, of course, if you want one of Dr. Lam's tapes to try i would go with the Tai Chi Anywhere video. It is easy enough to learn and hopefully interesting enough for a child of this age, and can even be performed sitting. I would also recommend this short form be taught to your child by a qualified tai chi teacher if possible. If not, i'm sure your child could learn it with your help, the tape is very well done and easy to learn from.

Another source of help which i could highly recommend is the Tai Chi for Kids video from Carolyn Cooper, who is a certified instructor by Dr. Lam and is listed under "Instructors" at this website. You'll need to page down to insructors listed in Utah to find her e-mail address. I also have her tapes and i'm sure your child would find these exercises very enjoyable. Carolyn does an excellent job teaching children and can really make it enjoyable and fun. Good luck with your search--i wish more parents would do the same for their children. I feel TC can help children as well as adults. Take care and best wishes and please keep us updated. Thanks.


05-16-2005, 12:36 AM

You said your son was bright and open to all forms of spiritualism? The above posts ae so helpful that I can't contribute much. Maybe it would help to read my article in Dr. Lam's December newsletter"Teaching Tai CHi to karate kids". The topic is huge but I mentioned a few points which are important. Ask again if you need help

05-16-2005, 09:56 AM
i was an asthmatic as a child and wish there had been someone around to instruct me in taichi then;i beat it by riding a bicycle hard through the woods in wintertime;grandmaster cheng man-ching is said to have cured his lung problems by practicing yang style taichi daily;the taoist breathing encorages abdomnal breathing,where you are using the abdomen much like a bellows taking air in by expanding the abdomen and out by contracting it;this relieves stress on the lungs.
i would consider taichi one of the most ideal excercises for the asthmatic child;asthma can be related to some psychological problems such as low self esteem and stress related anxiety

05-16-2005, 01:55 PM
Thank you to all of you who replied. I will post again once we begin his Tai Chi and let you know his progress.

I think it takes the wisdom of many to rear a child and I appreciate your contributions. I think he will do great things in life and will need the benefit of cultures than his own. Perhaps Tai Chi will help with that AND his asthma.

Have a great week.

05-16-2005, 06:41 PM
The keys are to keep the tai chi simple and fun. I have a 6 yr old daughter and every so often she wants to try TC and I let her but keep it very high level and fun. Just concentrate on the gross movements and time it to their attention span. Then when they get older, hone in on the details and make the corrections.

When you start making corrections, then you can incorporate Dr Lam's great instructions on "how to be a good instructor" in his "artcles" link.

Good luck!

05-16-2005, 06:46 PM
Correction, Dr Lam's artile on good instructions is "What makes a good Tai Chi instructor". You can modify this to fit your child's needs, but should be fairly straight forward when he gets older.

05-16-2005, 07:11 PM
One last post.

Since TC has its roots in Taoism, it is a great physical introdution to the spiritual aspects of TC. Just search the web for TC and Taoism and there are a lot of books on the connection as well.

05-16-2005, 08:23 PM
As a child psychiatrist, I would love to hear any specific stories of kids with ADHD, Asperger's, OCD, LD and other neurodevelopmental problems that responded well or poorly to TCC, also how they liked it. The literature consists of a few articles in TC magazine. Thanks,

Richard Livingston, MD

Dr. Paul Lam
05-17-2005, 01:13 AM
another points is children are not small adults, they think and response differntly... and at any age, there are different mental stage so different method works at different age group.

05-17-2005, 04:56 AM
As far as children with disorders trying TC, I will let you know if my other son is interested. He is a high functioning Autistic Spectrum patient. He tested at 117 at 5 1/2 on the Wechsler which I know does not chart until 6. He is asymptomatic at school and may well had a significant jump since that time. His strengths are abstract and he struggles with short term memory. I do not think he will be able to concentrate on the exercises due to their slower pace but one never knows. His IQ could definitely handle the instructions, however. I will mention it to his specialist for some pointers.

As far as the question about my son and forms of spiritualism, I know this is unusual for a child. My son is indeed THAT different. Since I grew up with an unusual set of parental backgrounds, I felt torn between my two distinct heritages and wished for a place where I felt I belonged. Since I believe we are a patchwork of our past lives, he too could feel torn between worlds and he should be allowed to find his own way. I believe all forms of spiritualsim have their merits and choosing his own way may be the path to real happniess.

I plan to use Tai Chi as part of his curriculum, placed in a time slot that suits his mood. Too tired and he won't do well, too energetic and he won't like the pace. Perhaps this should be a breather after a difficult subject?? Any thoughts?

05-17-2005, 05:52 AM
With regards to the pace of TC, although it is usually recommended to do it in slow and flowing movements, your son can do it at any speed he can manage. Some practice at any speed is better than no practice at all. Just emphasize the gross movements, keep it simple, and fun. If he still has trouble learning the moves, then maybe a TC teacher who specializes in your son's needs migt help.

Good luck.