Character Chats

How We Show Composure

How do we show composure?

Here at True Balance Karate, we have a social emotional learning program called True Character. I’m Master H, owner and chief instructor here at the studio. I have two master’s degrees in education, and we’ve developed this curriculum to meet the needs of our youngest student who’s three or four and our oldest student who is 85.

What is composure?

And this month, we are talking about composure. We’re going to start the month by defining what composure looks like, and we tell the kids it’s being calm and in control of your feelings and your emotions, but when you’re three or four or five and you have huge emotions, you don’t quite know what to do with all of those feelings, with all of those emotions.

And when you’re a grown-up, there are times that we also have huge emotions and we lose it and we let them out kind of like a volcano, an explosion. Maybe there’s some yelling. Maybe there’s some crying, those kinds of things. So, defining composure comes about when we’re defining how to show it, defining what it looks like, demonstrating to our kids, “Hey, look, this is how I’m keeping myself calm.” It’s difficult to do in the moment and easier to do to point it out later, but the lesson is still the same, so how do we show composure? What are we doing when we’re showing composure?

Little kids can understand that if somebody takes their favorite toy, they don’t lose their composure. They don’t lose their cool and push and shove. You have to keep your hands to yourselves. That’s a concept they all understand. It’s the how do you not throw a temper tantrum piece that they have difficulty regulating through.

Understanding emotions

I remember when my son was younger, he would have huge emotions and scream and kick and flail and cry and those kinds of things, and it turned into, why don’t we just sit together and we’ll breathe together or let’s just look at the book together or let’s just count together? Or sometimes we allow the temper tantrum to go through, and then we talked about what feelings were going on at that time later because in the middle of big emotions, young kids can’t comprehend.

They can’t comprehend what they’re feeling or what they’re going through and they certainly don’t want to count with you all the time or breathe with you all the time. Sometimes they just need a moment to get it all out. So, taking a moment later and debrief, if you will, or through what actually was the situation, that kind of thing, can help them come up with a skill or a strategy that they might be able to use later. That’s what it’s about. It’s about giving them tools that they might not be able to use right then and there, but that they can use later on when they’re feeling these big feelings and big emotions and that kind of thing.

For us, adults, we get stressed. We’ve got work projects and home projects, and then all of a sudden, the kitchen sink is backing up and it’s just one thing on top of another on top of another, that we have to then figure out how do we keep our composure? Does that mean that we take a walk? Does that mean that we journal about it or write about it or does it mean that we make a to-do list, and as we tackle these big stressors, we cross them off and we feel better because we’re working towards an accomplishment of some sorts?

Acting, not reacting

So, when we’re showing our composure, it’s finding those things that help us be successful in staying calm, in staying in control, in staying in our thinking brain, rather than in some type of fight or flight kind of response, that lizard brain, if you will, that’s way old I’m just going to react kind of feeling.

So, when we’re talking about showing composure, we’re talking about acting, not reacting. We’re talking about taking those moments and implementing those strategies, so that we can have conversations about what’s bothering us, rather than just losing our cool and screaming and yelling and crying and ranting and raving and all those other words that we can come up with. As we talk about composure, we’re going to talk about reading body language, reading facial expressions, and what it looks like for us, what it looks like for others. Throughout the whole month, we’re going to talk about staying calm and in control of how we’re feeling.

Thanks. I’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. True Balance Karate is at 406 Ogden Ave Downers Grove Illinois, 60515 (next to CVS) Check out our Facebook!