Teaching Modesty To Girls and Boys

All too often, we ignore the question of modesty until the child hits puberty and then we scramble to cram in years of training into a few short months. This mom asks how much should she talk about this topic with a curious six-year-old.

Start by discussing your family values, not as lectures (because who wants to be lectured!) but as conversations.

Q: What is the best way to teach modesty? Our son is six and much too curious. He has very little filter and is much need of guidance, but we really do not know the best way go. Thank you for your time and much needed prayers.

A: It’s great that you’re thinking of modesty at such a young age. Unfortunately, modesty is a lost character trait, and if it’s taught at all, it’s generally restricted to females. This is a huge mistake because boys need to learn modesty as much as girls do.

Start by discussing your family values, not as lectures (because who wants to be lectured!) but as conversations. TV shows, movies, the news, classmates, friends, neighbors all provide fodder for jumping off points to discuss why your family agrees or disagrees with the situation. As he grows older, layer more thoughts and reasoning behind your beliefs—you want him to come to understand the why behind the beliefs, but this is a gradual application.

Be careful not to espouse racial, ethnic or stereotypical biases in your conversation. You want your son to respect all, even those with whom he doesn’t agree or who don’t share your beliefs. For modesty, this would look like not denigrating those who think what you wear—or don’t wear—is a sign of a pure heart.

Get to why modesty’s important, rather than simply telling him what modesty looks like for your family. Modesty is more than about how much skin is showing—it’s about respecting your body and being careful what you put into your mind.

Allow questions. If you don’t know something, it’s okay to say you don’t, and that you’ll get back to him, then do so. You don’t have to have all the answers at your fingertips!

Don’t overreact. Kids will try on different things, say things they don’t really mean, and express views or thoughts not their own. So don’t overreact. Instead, ask clarifying questions to see what your son really means, and go from there.

This should get you started on your journey to teaching modesty to your son. This will be an ongoing conversation that will continue until he’s an adult—and perhaps, even beyond.


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