Teach Kids: Humility

Humility– freedom from pride or arrogance: the quality or state of being humble (Webster’s dictionary).
Humility is an underrated character trait, which I think needs more attention in this day and age.

Like many of you, I find it hard not to be influenced by our self-centered culture.
Sometimes, this fast paced social media driven world, has me fluctuating between confidence and insecurity….. When I publish a post that gets lots of feedback, it has me excited, and then when I get no feedback, sometimes, I take it personally. The emotional rollercoaster it lends to, almost brings me back to adolescence.

And as we all know, children are even more susceptible to this influence because of their innocence and lack of experience with the world.

Young adults have become so self-centered, that according to Dr. Michele Borba in her book “Unselfie,” “Fortune 500 companies are hiring praise consultants to teach manager how to compliment young employees.”  

Certainly, there must be a better way, or shall I say, a better path, than this.

And as a parent of young children, I have begun to ask myself some questions:

How do I raise children who are confident in themselves, but who also realize how much room they have to grow?

How do I raise children who are okay with not getting recognized for every little accomplishment? (because it’s good for them)

How do I raise children who realize that they are not better than anyone else?

Searching for some inspiration, I found some wisdom from the past:

“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”-Socrates
“Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground.” -Teddy Roosevelt
“True humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” C.S. Lewis “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.” Romans 12:16 (NIV Bible)

A lot of great food for thought. So, I chewed on these quotes for awhile. And researched, and brainstormed ….  and here is what I came up with.  

Why is it important?

Beyond just raising your kids “right,” why is it so important? 

Well, did you know that humble people are often more successful in life?   Google actually ranks “intellectual humility” as one of the top five character traits of new hires.  Intellectual humility is defined as “recognizing the limits of one’s knowledge and appreciating others’ intellectual strengths.” (according to the Journal of Self and Identity). 

How do we teach it? 

Humility is obviously something that is difficult to research.  I mean, admitting that you are humble is like the opposite of humility.  So much of what we know about humility, we have actually learned from studying narcissism.  Below are some ideas  to encourage the development of humility that I have compiled. Some of which I have learned from others, and some from research.

  • Use a “we” mentality instead of a “me” mentality– Last summer a friend of mine told me that within her family she has been using the “team” mentality. While potty training her daughter, she encouraged her other children to cheer her on, and all of her children were rewarded for the individual’s accomplishments. Try this out, and you will be amazed at how effective it is. 
  • Provide your children with opportunities to serve others- Doing so gives them a broader perspective on the world, and helps them develop empathy.  
  • Teach your kids how to listen intently to others Developing good listening skills teaches your children to value the opinions of others.
  • Thank and show affection towards to your children instead of over-praising them-Check out this great student about narcissism. According to this study: “Narcissism was predicted by parental over-evaluation, not by lack of parental warmth.”
  • Encourage your kids not to interrupt others- When we allow children to interrupt, it is telling them that their words are more important than the person they are interrupting. 
  • Let your kids fail occasionally- Don’t always swoop in to save the day.  Don’t always let them win when you play a game with them.  It gives them wonderful perspective and helps them to develop coping skills.  And if you are looking to inspire humility in the young people in your life,  check out these new posters on my teachers pay teachers page.   Humility Posters