Five ways to teach your child humility

Sarah Oryschak
The virtue we are tackling in the Lower School this month is Humility. It is one of the simplest, yet most challenging virtues for us to live.
We want to live putting others first and living truthfully, but it is so easy for our pride to get in the way. Our pride often lead us in one of two directions (or both!): either we think too well of ourselves at the expense of others, or we put ourselves down for our failings at the expense of ourselves. Humility is a fine line between the two extremes of pride. We acknowledge our gifts and strengths, putting them at the service of others. We recognize our weaknesses and use them to turn to God and ask him to help us grow.

Some ways we are trying to live humility at school are:
  • Letting others go first, especially in matters of preference, like recess, activities, punchline, etc.
  • Speaking well of others and congratulating them for a job well done - Giving credit where credit is due
  • Performing hidden acts of service, avoiding bragging and showy actions done for acknowledgement
  • Being patient with others and apologizing when at fault

What can you do as a parent to foster humility at home?
  1. Be an example of humility: As in anything, your children will imitate your behavior. The more you can live in a humble way, the more your children will absorb from you.
  2. Build your children up and teach them where their true value lies: most of the time, when children are looking for attention, it is because they are not receiving enough feedback or positive attention. The more that you can give them honest, positive feedback, the better. Also, teach them that their value does not lie in what they have or what they do, but in who they are. This way, you can teach your children the truth about themselves.
  3. Coach them on how to respond to praise. Just as we teach them to say “please” and “thank you,” we need to teach children the appropriate, humble response to praise. The more prepared they are, the more graciously they can respond.
  4. Don’t confuse “humility” with “humiliation.” Try not to humiliate your children. Humiliation does not help, since it is something that can hurt a child rather than help teach the lesson of humility. If your children need correction, be sure to correct them, but in a way that is as loving, patient and personal as possible. This can help prevent the harm and resentment that intentional humiliation breeds.
  5. Teach your children to serve. Among the many activities you do with your child, include some that imply service. There are so many ways we can serve, and so many people that need simple acts of service: the poor, the elderly, family members, friends or classmates. If you are able to incorporate various “service projects” into your life as a family, service will become a habitual behavior for your children, and they will be more sensitive and open to the needs of others."