Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Teaching Children Humility

My husband is a big football fan, so I've embraced the TV takeover. Brute force and impressive plays invade our TV screen and it takes over entire weekends.  As I watch I see it all, from 'miraculous plays' to issues of poor sportsmanship, lack of humility, and full-out drama on the field. 

Over the past weekend, a couple of key playoff games were lost because of mistakes made by the team who was winning. In some cases, these mistakes came down to one person losing their cool. Temperament, poor sportsmanship, and similar egoic behaviors cost entire teams and seasons to go right down the drain. Postgame interviews caught pretty angry players bitter about the outcome, and in some cases, these apparently angry players remained angry and faultless. 

This attitude got me thinking about my son's own ego within sports. He's heavily engaged in organized sports. His love for basketball and soccer are clear. He works hard and commits fully to practice and games. I enjoy watching him play, but I don't enjoy those moments when his head suddenly becomes too big to balance on his tiny shoulders. After good games I know his ego is only inflated. I'd think no biggie but then I see these brut football players with egos the size of monster trucks and I wonder: "how do I teach humility without crushing self-confidence?" 

Things to consider:

Be humble: modeling any and every behavior is the sure way to teach children how to behalf. My latest motto is "I am not the cause and I am not the cure." This completely takes me out of the equation most times and is a completely humbling statement. Shying away from the credit good or bad is a GREAT habit to develop.

Be selfless: kids should constantly do for others. Community Service is a great way to teach humility. Cleaning a park, volunteering in a church, giving away old toys or simply helping another student with a challenge. Put your child in situations where they exercise a giving spirit of service. 

Put your pride aside: this is different than simply modeling humility. In this case it takes apologizing to your child for moments when you were wrong as a parent. To put your ego aside surely demonstrates how they should do the same.

Set challenging goals: create situations where your children can work towards a goal. Sometimes things just come easy for children boosting their egos. This is great, but it can't be WIN-WIN all the time. Let children experience difficulty and work through it. Be supportive, but also don't come to the rescue. This can be something simple like having your child raise money for a school fundraiser all on their own. How many times do we step in and do the talking for them? Or worse just pony up the money? Make them sweat for what they want -- have them solicit for that school fundraiser. They get to not only enhance their self-confidence, but they appreciate the many times mom and dad come to the rescue, and get to go through moments that might not feel easy and comfortable, but build character.

How do you incorporate humility into your child rearing methods?

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