Character Chats

How to celebrate differences and help our friends in need

Today we’re going to talk about differences with our friends and ways we can help our friends when they’re in need.

Every month at True Balance Karate, we have our social emotional lesson called True Character.

This month’s word of the month is friendship. Friendship means we care, share, and work together. For our older kids, we say it’s a relationship we choose based on mutual interests, care, respect, and trust.

Differences are okay

Is it okay for you and your friend to have some differences? Is it okay for you and your friend to have some similarities? Yeah.

Should your friends probably have a little bit of both? Have some things that you love to do together and some things that are totally different? Yeah.

Is it okay for your friends to not look like you? Of course.

Is it okay for your friends to not sound like you? Of course.

Are some of those things really what makes friendships awesome and makes life exciting? Yeah, they really are.

Cultural differences

Having friends that are different from you is something that really helps make everybody’s life a little bit better.

For example, we’re hosting a little party for our black belts — our teenage black belts. One of our teenage black belts is from India and their mom asked, “Hey, is it okay if we bring some Indian food to share?” I said, “Of course. I love it when people bring different food to share.” Food from different countries, different cultures, different parts of the US.

I don’t like eating the same things all the time. I don’t want to just have cheese and sausage every single time. I would love to have all kinds of different stuff. That’s one of the things that makes friendships so rewarding and so much fun: being able to share in our differences and enjoy those differences.

Now, sometimes those differences are great — you really like their food. Other times you discover you really don’t and now you have something funny to share with your friends as well. All of that is good and all of that is what makes life so much good and so much fun.

Personality and personal preferences

Is it okay to have a good friend that is a little quiet and shy while you’re more outgoing? Of course.

Is it okay to have a friend that loves to play sports, but you like to play games? Of course.

It’s always okay to have a friend that has some differences, and it’s important for the two of you to trust and understand and respect those differences.

For example: “Hey, I know you really want to go out and play soccer. Now I really don’t play soccer. So, why don’t you go with that other group and tomorrow we’ll meet up and do some D and D.”

We don’t get upset over those differences with each other. We know, we admit them, and we work with them.

Showing we’re grateful

A big part of being friends is showing that we’re grateful for each other.

What are you grateful for with one of your friends?

I’m grateful that I have friends that are willing to listen to me and that are willing to hear me out. Sometimes as an instructor, it can be a little stressful. We’re always talking to others, others are always talking to us. Sometimes we feel a little like counselors around here.

We’re always bringing kids to the side, chatting with them, really helping them through a lot of spots of their life. I’m grateful that I have friends I can do that with as well.

What are you grateful for your friends for? Make sure you go and share that with them.

Helping our friends

We’re also here to help our friends when they’re in need.

What are we going to do if a big kid is picking on one of our friends and doesn’t stop? What can you do there? You can talk with them, tell a teacher, get them some help.

What can you do if your friend forgot a lunch? I read a really good story on Facebook the other day. It was a story about a kid who came home and said to Mom one day, “Mom, can you make me two sandwiches, pack me two brownies?”

Next day, “Mom, make me two sandwiches, pack me two brownies.” Mom was all busy in the morning. She made the two sandwiches and finally said, “Are you going through a growth spurt? What is going on? This is a lot of food.”

The kid says, “My friend’s mom got real sick, had to go to the hospital. Nobody’s around to make her food. So, I wanted to bring double for them”.

That’s the kind of thing that friends do for each other. That’s something that you can help out with. It doesn’t matter how little you are. You can step in and help out somebody who’s in need.

When a friend isn’t feeling well

What do we do if a friend doesn’t feel well? We can be there for him. We can be a shoulder from him to cry on. We can help get them something.

What if they’re hurt? We can show them empathy.

Here at the school, one of our students is a little guy. He’s had quite a bit of bad luck with health. He’s had a whole number of surgeries, has issues with eating and stuff, and broke his leg. The poor guy.

Starting at, I think only several years old, he had many, many surgeries, and sees experts. Then he breaks his leg doing something. And he comes into class on crutches, sits in a chair. Really good inspiration.

I’ll tell you, this guy that is five, six years old and has had absolutely no luck with health — as soon as somebody gets hurt he’s right over asking them how they are. He has the biggest heart and the most empathy of anyone across the whole school.

Sometimes we have to tell him, “It’s okay, please go and do your class,” because if there’s somebody hurt, his class is done. He stopped, and he’s over asking them how they are. Doesn’t even know their name sometimes. And he’s trying to show them empathy.

That’s the kind of stuff that a friend is made of. And he really helps inspire me to be a better friend and a better instructor with others.

So, those are the kinds of ways that we can really show our friends that we care and that we have gratitude — and ways that we can celebrate our differences with our friends as well.

Thanks. And we’ll see everybody out on the mat.
– Master Helsdon