According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, humility is “the quality or state of not thinking you are better than other people: the quality or state of being humble”.
A mother yearns to teach her children the quality of humility, but she also wants her children to be confident. The line between the two is often fuzzy, but these two traits are not mutually exclusive. In fact, a humble child is a confident child.
Offering praise to our children and building them up does not inhibit their ability to be humble. Humility extends itself out of strength and assurance. Humility is not typically something that is innate. Rather, it is essential to teach our children the strength of being humble.
Below are ten teaching points for moms and children on humility:
Teach your child to say thank you. Children must learn to acknowledge the contributions of those who are often overlooked. Help your children say thank you to the school custodian, the grocery store clerk, or the person who delivers your mail.
Talk about humility. Your children will not know what it is if you do not talk about it. Initiate a discussion on what it means to be humble. Ask your child if he knows anyone who is humble.
Set aside your belief that humility is a sign of weakness. A humble person is not a meek person. A successful and persevering individual can also be a humble person. A person who shows humility knows that there is always room to improve. A humble person lacks arrogance, a quality that considers only oneself and not others.
Approach everyone as though they have something to teach you. This is demonstrated to your children by showing kindness and patience to others. Treating everyone with respect and acknowledging that their part in this world is valid and essential.
Use stories as a teaching aid. There are many fables, proverbs, and children’s stories illustrating the notion of humility. Use the story as a teaching tool and to initiate a conversation around the topic of being humble.
Learn to accept the feelings, thoughts, and stories of others as just important as your own. It is difficult to suspend judgment all the time. After all, we must judge others in order to assess what is right and what is wrong in our own lives. And, if we are choosing what is right then, surely, what we are not doing should be classified as wrong. Teach your children to value the perspective of others and to embrace, tolerate, and accept differences.
Do for others. Doing good deeds for others deepens our children’s compassion for others. It is important for children to see that not everyone lives the same way that they live or has what they have. Nonetheless, every individual is worthwhile and deserves respect.
Apologize. Owning your actions and taking responsibility for them is a stepping stone on the path to humility. Demonstrate the strength and courage behind an apology. Let your children observe you apologizing to others when you are wrong. Be sure to apologize to your children as well when they deserve it.
When we display over-confidence or arrogance - we tend to overestimate ourselves. A humble mind is a mind that is always seeking to improve. One who feels confident but is always open to change and improvement. One who knows there is a possibility that even though he is one hundred percent sure, he could be wrong.
“Each of you is perfect the way you are … and you can use a little improvement.” - Shunryu Suzuki