While there are many books and Web sites devoted to helping parents teach their kids to have high self-esteem, humility often gets overlooked in the modern world. Engaging children in activities and lessons on the idea of humility helps them learn this valuable character trait.
Activities for Younger Children
I Can Be Humble Today By...
Children need daily reminders to develop character traits. Use an old calendar or print a blank calendar page and write at the top of it "I can be humble today by..." Help children fill in each day of the month with an example of humility. Examples of humility may include helping someone learn something new, holding open a door for someone or saying "thank you" to a janitor.
Cut a large star out of yellow or gold posterboard and tie yarn on it so it can be placed around a child's neck. Explain that wearing the yellow star represents being prideful and place it around the child's neck. Then, take off the yellow star and give the child a small star sticker to wear and explain that the smaller star represents being humble. Alternatively, provide a chart where your child can place small stars to show a humble act.
Thankful for Thankless Jobs
There are many people who perform thankless jobs that make your child's life easier. This could be a teacher, janitor, librarian or someone who organizes a community event. Start by helping your child identify these selfless people in his life. Next, provide materials for your child to create thank you cards to give to these people. Helping your child see how he benefits from others humility, can help him become more humble too.
Activities for Older Children
Present children with a series of scenarios where they can be choose to be boastful or humble, such as winning a game, getting an A on a test or giving someone a gift. Have children give a boastful response and a humble response to the scenario. For example, a child could pretend to brag about winning the game to demonstrate boastful behavior and say "good game" to the other players to demonstrate humility. Talk about how everyone involved would feel for each scenario to emphasize why choosing to be humble is the better option.
An Arrogant Person
On a large piece of paper, draw a stick figure or outline of a person. Label the figure Mr. or Miss Arrogant. Draw on clothing or accessories to represent arrogance, such as a crown, a foam finger saying "I'm #1" or a shirt that says "I Rock" or "I'm with stupid." Draw thought bubbles around the figure and fill them with suggestions from children about what an arrogant person would say. Children may include phrases such as "I'm better than you" or "Ha ha. I won!"
Random Acts of Kindness
Random acts of kindness are small acts that are done with no motive and, usually, without recognition. Have kids brainstorm some random acts of kindness they can do, such as sending a birthday card to someone without a lot of family or using some of their allowance to buy a few groceries for someone who does not have a lot. If kids need help with ideas for random acts of kindness, a set of Boom Boom Cards comes with multiple ideas.
Additional Tips for Instilling Humility in Your Children
While lessons and activities for kids on humility can be a great starting point for discussing the concept with your children, the following tips will help reinforce the idea on a regular basis:
- Create an atmosphere in which children ask instead of tell. While it's natural to want to be friends with your child, it's important to remember that adults have wisdom and experience that children simply do not possess. Children need to learn from adults, but a child who is arrogant isn't in the position to learn from anyone.
- Don't tolerate disrespectful speech, even among very young children. If your child says something inappropriate, answer with "I beg your pardon?" or "Excuse me?" or "Would you like to try that again please?" until your child corrects the behavior.
- Strive to be humble in your own actions. As a parent, it's easy to slip into arrogant behavior when dealing with your child. However, shouting "How dare you disobey me!" only teaches your child that it's ok to disrespect the feelings of others to get what you want. Strive to discipline and correct your child without insults or harsh words.
Consistency, constant modeling in your life, and a lot of praise for when your kids do show humility, all will go a long way to help your kids develop humility.