Leadership Series: How do you teach modesty?

When you think of a modest person, you do not equate them with the following actions:

Blowing their own horn…




Merriam Webster defines modesty “as the quality of not being too proud or confident about yourself or your abilities.”

Some very accomplished people are modest. Have you ever wondered how they arrive at being so humble?  This thought has crossed my mind because my boys are all modest.  They all have varying degrees of extreme talent, and yet, they rarely – even when it is deemed acceptable (such as on a college or scholarship application) brag about their ability or accomplishments.

What really puzzles me is how some people with lesser ability or talent have little to no problem in touting their capabilities.  These people are not known as humble or modest. So, what causes the difference between these two mindsets?  Are people that brag about themselves doing so because they truly have talent that has gone unrecognized? Or, are they just in need of attention?  Is it a compensatory mechanism because they aren’t getting enough praise for a job well done or an outstanding quality such as intelligence, creativity, or agility?

My boys are humble. I have been told so.  In fact, I did not realize they exhibited this quality until I was told by others.  One of my friends refers to my oldest as the most humble person she knows. She often tells me, if anyone has the right to brag, it’s him.

I can confidently say that he would scoff at this. But, she is right. He is humble and modest. I believe his values tell him to do his best, try his hardest, rise above the set standards, but not to brag about what is accomplished through his natural ability or even by hard work.

Unfortunately, in today’s dog eat dog world, modesty is a hard trait to come by. And, actually teaching humility or being humble might be more useful. When I searched for how one goes about teaching modesty, I came up with a lot of information on teaching young girls how to dress with modesty. Hmmm. As you can imagine, this was not what I was looking for.  In contrast, when I searched for teaching your child humility, I hit on some useful text. Here is an article from Matthew Lynch (2018) entitled, “How to Teach Your Child Humility in a Digital Age.” One of the take-home sentiments from this article is having your child focus on others rather than themselves.

I think this is a good piece of advice. From an early age, as our boys excelled at things like music, math, and art, we congratulated them on their accomplishments. But, we also pointed out others who did things that were exceptional as well. This helps change the focus to achieving great things together rather than as individuals. Reading Lynch’s article will give you more suggestions on teaching humility.

We did not consciously teach the value of humility in our house, but somehow our boys assumed it. Yes, we are very proud of their accomplishments, and yes, some of those accomplishments have been extraordinary. But, I am most proud that they possess humility, as our world certainly needs more of that today!



This post is dedicated to our oldest son who strives to be the best at everything he does but you’ll rarely hear about his accomplishments from him!  Happy 25th Birthday!

3 thoughts

  1. You must be having a unique day! I delighted in your perceptions as a glad parent, especially as it’s a birthday. One note is that the hyperlink to the article about lowliness in youngsters returned me on the double to your blog. The article did not show up.

    Liked by 1 person

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