Character Chats

How We Show Courtesy

What kind actions can we do that show courtesy?

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. And I have two master’s degrees in education, taking everything I’ve learned to develop a curriculum that best meets the needs of our youngest students who are three, to our oldest students who are 84.


And this month we’re talking about courtesy.

We started the month off talking about our seven magic words of respect, yes, sir, no, sir, yes, ma’am, no, ma’am, please, thank you, and you’re welcome.

And then we talked about where and when we might show courtesy, what our good manners and our bad manners would look like if we were sitting at dinner with our family. Or if we were in school, learning from our teacher. Or here at the studio, what that might look like, what our good manners look like and our bad manners look like.

And then last week, we talked about showing courtesy when we meet new people.

Because they might start off as strangers, but we’re meeting somebody new in our class, or we are introducing ourselves to a person at our community service project.

Some type of way that then shows that powerful greeting, that shows courtesy that makes sure that people know who you are.

Kind Actions

And this month, this week specifically, we are talking about our kind actions.

What can we do to show kindness through our actions? And I find it to be fitting, because this month is November and it’s Thanksgiving, and we talk a lot about being thankful for something, wanting to be grateful for things around us.

When you’re in kindergarten, you make the Thanksgiving turkey with your hand, and each feather is all the things you’re thankful for.

When we become adults, it’s our blessings, our thankfulness, we feel a sense of pride and gratefulness with where we are.

And we want to make sure that as we’re going through this holiday season, Thanksgiving leads us into the next holiday, which leads us into the new year and that kind of thing. We want to make sure that we’re showing that courtesy, that kind action.

Helping Out Charities

And it might be looking at what the humane society needs for animals.

When my kids were younger, instead of birthday presents for their birthdays, they would for their friend’s party request donations for a charity.

And usually, it was the dogs and the cats, because, well, my daughter has a very soft heart for pets and animals. So, that would be what she would request for her birthday presents from her friends, was that charity.

My niece, when she was younger, it’s actually who we got the idea from, she did for Ronald McDonald House. She collected donations for the Ronald McDonald House, some toys for the kids that were through that particular charity, and that was just something that we did.

Other Examples of Kindness

That was a kind action that we took to show our courtesy for those around us, because we had enough and we wanted to make sure everybody else did too.

Some other kind actions we might take would be using writing cards, using our thoughtful skills, using our drawing skills, our artistic skills, and writing cards that would then go to a senior citizen assisted living home, or that would go to our military personnel overseas, things like that.

There’s different card writing campaigns that you can be a part of, that would be a kind action that could show your courtesy.

Giving Back to Society

And so, as we start to think of these bigger picture ideas, this consideration for the world around us, it’s one of those, how else can we give back?

And as we get into this holiday season, this is kind of the start of it right now, how else can we show those kind of actions to those around us?

The friends that are really pretty ill and in the hospital right now, what could we do to show kind actions and courtesy to them?

What could we do to show kind actions and courtesy to someone in the grocery store or something like that?

I mean, everybody is always going through something. And I’m reminded that we don’t know the battles that each of us face, we don’t know where anybody’s at necessarily, but it’s our courtesy and our kindness that carries through.

Life Example

And as I said that, I remembered a story from when, again, I share a lot of my kids’ stories with you guys, but when my daughter was six. She and her little brother, he was like three at the time, was given a limit that they could spend at Target.

I had told them that they could each spend $5 and she insisted on a $10 toy. And I was teaching them the value of the money at the time, it was also a reward for some good behavior, but she wasn’t listening.

And we set a timer and I said, “You have these things to choose from. You have one minute to decide, this is your limit, this is all you can spend.” And when that time was up, she hadn’t chosen. She was still stuck on getting the more expensive item of $10.

And I needed to be a parent and teach her that this is what I said, so this is what we’re going to do.

And so, she got nothing and spent the next 45 minutes screaming, and crying, and trailing behind me as we were grocery shopping.

And some of the parents that were in Target were giving me dirty looks, but one parent demonstrated courtesy and kindness. And she gave me a pat on the shoulders as I was walking down the bread aisle.

And she told me, “You got this, keep going.” And Becca continued to cry and that’s okay, but we got out to the car, we got all the way home. We eventually talked through it.

But that kind act in that moment has stuck with me for over 10 years, and it’s those kinds of kind actions that we want to be on the lookout to show courtesy.

Being Part of Something Bigger

We can do bigger ideas, like collecting for the homeless or having a letter writing campaign.

We can find those big ideas. A service project is a kind action, that is a big idea.

But it’s also the small ones, the pat on the back, the kind smile, the listening as somebody shares a success, or as somebody shares a heartache.

It’s showing the thoughtfulness, the thankfulness, and the caring that we have for those around us. And we do that a lot during this holiday season.

And as we go forward, I’d like to continue to see the courtesy keep going even throughout the rest of the year.

So, thanks and 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