Character Chats

Resources available here at Karate to help you be more independent

Every month we have a word of the month. It’s part of our social-emotional learning program called True Character.

This month’s word of the month is resourcefulness. Resourcefulness means “I can do it without help.”

Resourceful people show many different character traits. They’re open-minded, confident, imaginative, creative, adaptable, and positive. They think of ways to solve problems.

We have a lot of different tools here at TBK to help you be more resourceful at home.

Parents, it’s important for you to understand some of these tools that we have available to you, so you can utilize them at home to help your kids in earning tapes and in helping reinforce your kids being more resourceful.

Black Belt Attitudes

We have our Black Belt Attitudes system here in class. Our Black Belt Attitudes system is a whole series of worksheets. When the students fill them out and turn them in, they earn a black tape on their belt. The tape says Black Belt Attitude.

Black Belt Attitude is a symbol of excellence. It is character traits that we need in order to be excellent at anything. That’s one of the secrets about it — it’s not just here at karate class.

Somebody who has a Black Belt Attitude has good respect. They listen and follow directions. They do things the first time. They’re resourceful. They find solutions and they work for themselves.

We have some tools to help you, parents, build good resourceful kids. We’re going to go over all those different sheets here.

Weekly job checklist

We have our weekly job list. Our weekly job list is a checklist sheet — it’s kind of like a work daily checklist. We have different chores that the kids have listed out at home on the weekly job list.

These are things like brush your teeth, make your bed, be kind to family. Those are some examples for our younger kids. We have a weekly job list for older kids as well once they graduate out.

The younger kid one has pictures on it, just a few chores, stuff that’s appropriate for them — like to pick up their toys, and have a Black Belt Attitude.

The other kid weekly job list is things like cleaning your room, making your own bed, hanging up your clothes, brushing your teeth every night, completing homework promptly, remember everything you needed for the day.

The idea with the weekly job lists is the kids check it off as they go. Mom and dad, you sign it on the bottom, turn it in at the desk. At the end of class, we hand out the black belt tapes.

Building good habits

We like to say, “habits we train are habits we gain.”

When we want our kids to gain resourcefulness, we want to give them the tools to be successful with that. Having a reward system set up along with a checklist is something to really start to build that habit of doing things for themselves.

Having the younger kid and the older kid sheets helps you as parents too — helping them progress through their ages. Things that a five-year-old can do are pretty simple. As they get older, they can start to do more. And when you progress to that sheet, you can do that.

For example, I remember when my son was young, instead of putting plates in the sink he put them next to the sink. He was too short, and when he dropped them in the sink he’d break the plate.

All of a sudden, I looked at him once when he was eight and noticed he’s still putting the plates next to the sink. And I said, “why aren’t you putting them in the sink?” He replied, “I’ve always put them next to the sink.”

He was now more than tall enough to reach into the sink and rinse it off. So it’s important as parents that we learn to progress as they progress and up the expectations of what they can do.

As they get more and more mature, students can be more and more resourceful — can do more things for themselves. Weekly job lists are two of the things you can use for that.

Healthy eating

Another way to be resourceful is healthy eating.

Our Healthy Eating worksheet is a simple sheet that just says, “I ate this instead of that.”

This sheet is one way we can really break down a bit how to be a little more healthy. A lot of times we would really like to be healthy — maybe eat a little less sugar, a little bit more vegetables, a little bit more fruit. So how can we do that for ourselves? We can start by actually writing it out and seeing it in front of us.

“Hey, I chose to eat an apple instead of a candy bar after school. I chose to eat a healthy dinner instead of McDonald’s.” All right?

“I chose an extra healthy thing for a snack instead of Nutella dip.” Right?

So I chose this instead of that. This kind of sheet can give us the resources that we need to be a more healthy eater.

Karate homework sheet

We also have a karate homework sheet.

With this sheet we’re just tracking our practice at home.

We all know that in order to get good at anything, it takes time and repetition. There’s no secret formula in life. There’s no secret pill. You can’t — like in one of the old movies, the Matrix — just hook your head up to something and download a skill into your head, right?

To be good at anything, it takes hard work and dedication. It takes time. It takes reps on it. It doesn’t matter if it’s martial arts, if it’s dance, or if it’s math. To be good at anything, it takes time and practice.

So for kids to use their resources and start to encourage that, we have a sheet for the karate homework: number of minutes I practiced, and what I practiced.

Sometimes by writing things down, you can start to see your progress. And you can put their own progress into your kids’ hands so they can learn to be resourceful and do things on their own.

Self-discipline sheet

Another sheet we have is a Self-Discipline sheet.

The Self-Discipline sheet tends to come in a bit after the Chore sheet. We start out with chores, build the habits, following a list of things we need to do. The idea is as they progress, those things should just become automatic. They should become things that they just do every time they come in.

When we move into our Self-Discipline sheet, now we want our kids to start to look for things they can do without asking — things that are outside their normal chores.

It says on the sheet, “Each time you help at home without being asked, write down how you helped. Once you have helped at home 10 times outside of your regular expectations, turn in your sheet to receive your Attitude Stripe.” 

For example, Mom and Dad are walking in the door with groceries. They have an armful and you’re sitting on the couch playing the video games. It’s not part of your normal Chore sheet saying that you have to get up and help, but you notice and you use your self-discipline to get up to help on your own.

Another example: You noticed that the dog made a mess and you clean it up on your own. Around my house, the dog tends to make a mess with toothbrushes that our kids leave out. There will be a chewed up toothbrush on the couch. I don’t know why he likes toothbrushes.

They kids notice and clean it up on their own. That’s self-discipline. That’s also how we become resourceful.

Book club

One of our last sheets is our Book Club. Our Grandmaster used to say he didn’t want empty-headed warriors. I want to make sure that as a martial artist, we’re always expanding our minds.

A way to be resourceful in pushing yourself with that is, again, to chart your progress. A lot of people set a goal to read more. It works really well if you start to actually write it down and physically see it.

The day you skip reading and you didn’t write it down, you get a little bit of that guilt like, “Oh, that’s right. I didn’t read that day. I want to make sure I do that.” 

Again, turn it in at the end of the class and they earn their tapes.

We have lots of tools here at True Balance Karate to really help everybody be a little more resourceful and to help our kids be more independent.

Thanks and we will see you on the mat.
– Master Helsdon