Parents often ask me what trait is most important to instill in their kids in our self-centered world. Scripture shows us which characteristics are most important in our lives and the lives of our children. Based on scripture and my experience as a counselor, I believe the one characteristic that is foundational to the development of all other healthy relational and developmental traits in the life of a well-adjusted, connected, and genuinely loving child is humility. Teaching our kids how to be humble in our world is critical to positive child development.
Imagine a world where humility is admired and intentionally cultivated, where kids grow out of a foundation of humility rather than pride, control, and power. This school year, what would it look like if you focused on developing humility in your child, your home, and yourself?
The Root of Humility
When you meet a genuinely humble person, you instinctively understand that they care about people around them regardless of race, sex, or socioeconomic status. Interestingly, the word humility comes from the word humus. If you have a garden, you know humus is the part of soil that is necessary for the growth and strengthening of plants. It provides the environment for deep-rooted growth.
Scriptures on Humility
There are many scriptures on humility throughout the Bible. Scripture emphasizes the importance of humility and its ability to create that deep-rooted growth in many places. James writes that God gives grace to the humble and opposes the proud (James 4:6). The Bible also says it is our responsibility to humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand and to foster a humble heart (1 Peter 5:6).
In James 4:6-10, it says to:
- Submit to God (recognizing His power and our place as His child).
- Draw near to God (pursuing a relationship with a heavenly Father who loves us).
- Cleanse and purify our hearts (recognizing our brokenness and sinfulness while seeking wholeness in Christ).
In another scripture on humility, Ephesians 4:2 explains that humility and gentleness, mixed with patience, provide the ingredients for people to truly and deeply love others. This verse states that we can bear with one another in love as we move toward unity and peacefulness. Humility invites God’s unifying Spirit to act in and through us as we learn to love others.
The Importance of Humility For Our Kids
For more than twenty years, I have worked with families in my counseling practice, and I have consistently found the root of many relational issues to be the absence of humility. Where humility is lacking, selfishness, anxiety, pride, and insecurities abound. I have also seen that many sexual struggles come from the absence of humility. We must teach our kids humility from an early age to help them avoid these issues.
Teaching kids to understand their thoughts, longings, desires, and emotions helps them observe why they do the things they do. More importantly, establishing a life or culture of prayer in your home is an excellent starting point to soften the heart and train it toward humility.
Humility in a child’s life includes learning to:
- serve others
- take time for self-reflection
- desire growth
- be honest
- see life through a lens of invitations rather than inconveniences
- see endless possibilities to love others rather than criticize
- want the best for others
- manage emotions
7 Tips For Teaching Kids How to Be Humble
Humility leads a child toward becoming a contributor rather than a consumer as they grow and mature. So how do you help cultivate this trait in your child? Here are seven quick tips:
1. Foster a Culture of Listening First
Help your children understand that people crave to be known. Learn to discern the core desires in others. Why are they sharing what they’re sharing with you? What do they truly want? Teach them to be slow to speak and quick to listen. It is tempting to overrun people with our own opinions and thoughts.
2. Learn To Exercise and Grow in Empathy Toward Life
Parents can begin to teach humility from the time their children are infants. It’s about being genuinely relational and seeing other people through a lens of value and worth. Children can also practice empathy by caring for pets or maintaining a garden.
3. Foster a Mindset That Sees Invitations Rather Than Inconveniences
Opportunities to engage and serve others can be embraced as invitations rather than dreaded as inconveniences.
4. Practice a Culture of Gratitude
Look around as a family and intentionally talk about what you’re thankful for.
5. Model and Encourage a Culture of Respect
Respect each other’s unique ideas, emotions, and interests by noticing and learning to live well together in those differences.
6. Fuel Others Through Words of Encouragement
Words can be life-giving. Children can learn to genuinely encourage others without feeling the threat of losing their own value in the process.
7. Celebrate Opportunities to Serve
Map out ways you can serve within your family and in your neighborhood, school, or community. Take time to celebrate a culture of service in your home. A culture of service is more worthy of celebration than straight As.
The growth of humility in your child’s life will lead to positive development in many other areas of their character and relationships. Take time each day to model and invest in this trait and teach your kids to be humble as you engage with them. For more, visit www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting.