We want our children to grow up confident, self-assured and natural leaders. But that doesn’t mean you want to raise a demanding child who is bossy and pushy. But what if you have a demanding child on your hands? What should you do? Here are seven ways you can help your child become more humble.
A word about humility
Being humble isn’t the same as being shy or being a pushover. Being humble is about being unassuming and modest. It means not being a braggart and tooting your own horn.
A humble person knows that outward approval, praise and recognition aren’t everything. That’s been validated by others.
But how do you teach these concepts to your demanding child? It can be difficult to explain these ideas in terms that they can understand, but there are other ways to help them become more humble. Here are just a few ways to do so.
Model humble behavior
You can’t expect your demanding child to magically become more humble if you don’t model humble behavior yourself. So, even though you may want to focus all of your attention on forming your child’s character, take some time to form your own.
Ask yourself these important questions:
- Do you feel the need to brag and broadcast your accomplishments, knowledge or expertise?
- Do you know and value your own worth?
- Are you very insecure about who you are and what you can accomplish?
If your answers were, “Yes, No, and Yes”, then you may need to develop humble behavior in yourself first. This way, your child will see it firsthand and imitate you naturally.
Support and affirm your child
A demanding child may be simply missing something from you: your support and affirmation. You see, without your validation and encouragement, your child will seek it for himself. And if he feels under-appreciated, he will naturally become demanding.
So, when your child does a job well done, praise his or her good work. But be careful not to say that he or she is “good” when they please you, and “bad” when they don’t.
Always try to focus on the actions as either good or bad. This will help them become humble, as opposed to confusing their worth with their actions.
Keep your standards high and consistent for your children
Even though children will try to skimp out on their chores and responsibilities, they need and want you to keep the standards high.
What’s more, when you instill in your children the importance of doing good work as well as perfecting their skills, you help them become humble.
Why’s that? Because they will learn that they can do good work and don’t need to show it off or seek outward approval. That’s because you’ve empowered them to set and accomplish good outcomes.
Value them for who they are
You’ll remember from tip #2 that it’s important to support and affirm your child. However, it’s important to draw a distinction between affirming your child and attaching his worth and value to what he does or doesn’t do.
In short, help your child to feel valued for who he or she is, irrespective of their accomplishments. Let them know that you love them even if they don’t win this or that prize, or make this or that team.
Let your child know that he or she is good and good enough. This will give them a healthy sense of self-confidence and self-love. This, in turn, will pave the way to a humble character.
Give them opportunities to serve others
A great way to weed out a demanding nature is to encourage your child to serve others. But just like tip #1, set an example for your child to imitate. So, instead of sending them to a food bank or shelter to volunteer, take your child with you and serve together.
When they see others in much greater need than themselves, it can help to shape their perspective and reevaluate their own demands. What’s more, it can instill a sense of gratitude for who they are, what they have and the good things surrounding them.
Don’t confuse humility with humiliation
Many of the tips we’ve included are positive ones. That means they focus on changing behavior via positive influences, actions, and mindsets. But what happens when your child does act in a demanding way? Sometimes, as a parent, you do need to lay down the law.
But just be careful. You may want your child to become more humble, but this is seldom accomplished with humiliation.
When you bully, shame, humiliate or embarrass your child for their demanding behavior, you don’t help them become more humble. Instead, you create a lot of fear, insecurity, and pain and this will only create more negative behavior in your child.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t discipline or lower your standards. It just means you have to be smart about how you implement your family’s values. Calm and objective conversations with your child about what they did (and not about who they are), can help them transform their demanding behavior.
Gratitude creates a positive ripple effect throughout life, and that goes for developing a more humble child.
So, help your child be grateful for what they have and the compliments they receive. This may seem counterintuitive. In fact, we often believe that a humble person is someone who demurely denies compliments and praise.
Instead, a humble person says, “Thank you!” Not only for praise but for the good things they have and experience.
You can help your child cultivate gratitude by naming what they’re grateful for at dinner or bedtime. You can also start a gratitude journal with them, in which they write one to two things they’re grateful for on a daily basis.
When a child is grateful for what they already have, they won’t have the need to be so demanding.
A demanding child can be frustrating for most any parent, but as you can see, with these seven tips, it’s not impossible to help your child become more humble. Actually, it’s quite simple. With some time and intentional parenting, you can transform your child.