Character Chats

Showing Responsibility

Here at True Balance Karate in Downers Grove, Illinois, we have a social emotional learning program called True Character.

And this month we’re talking about responsibility.

And I’m Master H, owner and chief instructor here at the studio. I’ve taken 15 years of classroom teaching and all of that knowledge that goes along with it and applied it to our students here on the mat, taking our emotional learning program and applying it to our youngest of three and our oldest of 83.

How do we show responsibility?

And this month, we’re talking about responsibility. Specifically, this week, we’re talking about how we show that responsibility and we show it in a number of ways.

We show it when we borrow something, we show it when we are on time, we show it when we prioritize, and we show it when we keep promises.

There’s plenty of other ways that we show responsibility, but a lot of our responsibilities fall under one of those four umbrellas.


As adults, I’m sure we have all borrowed tools from our neighbor. I know my husband has borrowed tools from my dad. I’ve borrowed tools from my mom and my mother-in-law.

And so when we borrow things from each other, that thing becomes our responsibility, and we can’t give it back to them broken. And if we do, well, then we have to make amends and make it right.

And that’s actually next week’s conversation.

But when we borrow something, we’re making a promise that we’re going to keep that thing safe and we’re going to return it the way we’ve borrowed it or nicer.

What do I mean by that? Let’s say we borrowed a shovel from a neighbor, and they handed it to us, and it had a bunch of dried dirt still on it. Well, when we give it back, it’s still going to be usable, but maybe we took it upon ourselves to make sure we’ve cleaned it from when we used it.

So, that’s part of our responsibility that way. We’re the people who get the job done. We’re responsible.

We understand what’s expected of us and we take care of each other.

And then when we’ve returned that shovel cleaner than when we borrowed it, our neighbor feels better about borrowing things to us again.

Being on time

Same thing goes with being on time.

We all have responsibilities to be on time at school. We have responsibilities to be on time at work. We have responsibilities to be on time at dance class, karate class, any activity that we’re involved in.

A game is not going to wait for us to get there, it starts at one, it’s going to start at one.

That becomes our responsibility to get there on time.

Preparing and prioritizing

What can we do to help ourselves be that way?

Maybe pack our bag the day before, if it’s for a game that we need to have special equipment for. Maybe it’s gathering up materials needed leaving extra time to be able to travel in case there’s traffic.

But it’s thinking ahead that way so that we can meet the responsibilities being on time.

Prioritizing, my younger students have a hard time understanding priorities because when you’re younger, you’re very egocentric, everything revolves around you, and you can’t understand picking one thing over the other when you really want both.

But when we’re talking about responsibilities and prioritizing, we’re talking about what’s the most important thing that we need to get done right now?

For example, and we’ll use giant crazy examples like this, the dog needs to go out and the toilet is currently going in the wrong direction, both of which are our responsibilities to fix, which one has a higher priority?

And so, we’ll talk about that in the studio.

Obviously, toilet going in the wrong direction, makes a gigantic mess. So usually that’s the one they pick first, but there’s always that one kid that goes, “But what if the dog really has to go? You don’t want to clean up that mess too.”

And so, we talk about which one and what is our priority, what is most important? What could we take care of right then, and understand what that expectation is.

Keeping promises

And then finally, we talk about promises and every kid will understand, but you promised, and that’s like a sacred vow for them.

You promised you were going to do this. And so, we need to follow through with those promises.

And when we are showing our responsibilities, we’re making sure that we’re not over promising, that we’re not saying too much or offering to do too much, because we want to make sure that we can meet all of those responsibilities, all of those priorities, all of those things that matter to us, because at the end of the day, that’s how we can demonstrate responsibilities.


And we’ll talk about what else we can say so that we don’t over commit next week. But, as we continue to talk about responsibility, remembering borrowing, being on time, prioritizing and keeping promises are four of the ways that we can show responsibility.

Thanks. And we’ll see you on the mat!

True Balance Karate was founded in 2012 by Master Sue and Paul Helsdon.

We offer kids karate lessons for pre-school children ages 3-6 and elementary age kids ages 7 and up. These lessons are designed to develop the critical building blocks kids need — specialized for their age group — for school excellence and later success in life.

Our adult martial arts training is a complete adult fitness and conditioning program for adults who want to lose weight, get (and stay) in shape, or learn self-defense in a supportive environment.

Instructors can answer questions or be contacted 24 hours of the day, 7 days a week at 630-663-2000. You can also contact us here.