“I’m better at _______.” “”You’re not as good as me at ________.”
Both statements that I cringe to when I hear them come out of my daughters mouth. Don’t get me wrong, she is incredibly thoughtful, caring, gentle and sweet – but sometimes, like any 9 year old, she can be brutally honest/downright nasty, or overinflating in her abilities to make herself feel better.
Last summer I pulled out an old Webster Dictionary and had her look up the word “Humility” after being extremely boastful at the expense of another child on the trampoline. Here is what we found,
Humility – a modest or low view of one’s own importance; humbleness
This meant absolutely nothing to her. Honestly, it didn’t mean anything to me. It didn’t capture the true essence of what humility is, but I was at a loss of words in how to describe it. It bothered me, because I felt that a lesson that could have been much more meaningful was lost due to my inability to articulate the essence of one of the values I hold dearest to my heart.
Over the next few weeks I was overly critical every time she wasn’t being “humble” in my eyes. Every time she displeased me, I would say, “Now, Ayla – that is NOT being HUMBLE.”
After a few weeks of this she had had enough. She said, “MOM, I’m sorry! You think I’m the worst kid in the world, don’t you? You must hate me!”
I was flabbergasted. To be honest, while I was pointing out all of the times she wasn’t practicing humility, I forgot to praise her on the times when she was. Overly critical, demanding, and worried more about my pride as a parent were not great ways to set an example on humility.
Sometimes, as parents, I think we are so focused on teaching that we forget to lead by example. This experience was truly humbling for me. I don’t want to be an authoritative parent. I don’t want her self doubt to be a product of my criticism.
It was in the months following this experience that I changed some of my approaches, and to be honest, I’ve noticed quite an improvement in her behavior. She’s not perfect, but neither am I. Here’s some advice from a proud mom.
- Volunteer. I’m blessed to work for 2 assisted living facilities so it makes it easy to find opportunities for her to help out. She has sung for events, sat with residents, passed out popcorn and entertained during movie time. Finding something to do outside of ourselves gives purpose and meaning to life. I want my daughter to understand this so I provide her with the opportunity to do so.
- Spend Quality Time and Listen. Often when my daughter is being overly confident in front of her friends I feel it’s for attention. When I started giving her more quality time, verses quantity I noticed a dramatic improvement.
- Check Yourself. Really. We are the role models. Sometimes my expectations exceed my own abilities and that is unfair. I strive to be thoughtful, caring, compassionate, and nonjudgemental to set an example that my daughter can look up to, but it doesn’t always happen that way.
- Communicate. Do I screw up? Sure thing. But when I do I explain to her how I could have done something differently. When I allow myself to be vulnerable and show her I’m flawed, she knows it’s okay for her too. The important thing is that we always strive to be better. To do better.
Sometimes we teach our children lessons. Sometimes they teach us.
And sometimes we learn together.
How do you practice humility in your household?
One Flawsome Momma