Humility sets the stage for learning and growth.
The origin of the word comes from the Latin “humus,” which means “of the earth.” In humility, we see our origins as deeply rooted in the earth and part of a larger whole.
Humility is not thinking less of ourselves or making ourselves small and weak so no one notices us. Instead, it’s about being honest about our strengths and our weaknesses — all while recognizing that we can’t possibly be the best at everything we do.
Here are ways you can help your kids learn humility early in life.
Set the stage for experiencing awe.
Studies show that experiencing awe can foster humility. A profound encounter in nature — or with music or art — can expand your child’s perspective of life, give them a sense of the vastness of creation, and increase their curiosity. Go on a hike, take in live music, or lay under the night sky to take in the moon and stars.
Intellectual humility occurs when we realize that our beliefs and views are always limited and evolving. When you promote an environment in which your child is encouraged to curiously question their context, they are more likely to be open to learning and aware of other’s experiences.
Be specific in your encouragement.
Avoid vague comments like, “Good job,” or “You are so smart.” Instead, try something more meaningful, like, “I can see that you are working hard…” or “I noticed you have creative thinking about…” This builds confidence in kids based on their effort, rather than just achievement or outcome.
Be mindful of the paradox of humility.
In humility, we neither diminish ourselves nor put ourselves above another. Nurture and communicate with your child from the perspective that they are worthy of unconditional love and belonging just because they exist, and yet they aren’t more important than any other living being.
Transmit humility yourself.
Like many other virtues, your child learns less from the words coming out of your mouth and more from who you are in the world day in and day out.
Give opportunities to put themselves in other’s shoes.
Humility is built on the ability to take the perspective of the other. Use opportunities for practicing perspective taking by asking your child how they think characters in movies, books, or TV shows are feeling.
As you help your kids learn humility little by little, you help them enjoy growth, kindness, gratitude, and kindness.
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Photo Credit: Lisa Fotios, Pexels