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Children take time to learn the importance of being modest

WHEN do children become modest? Not about their bodies - that is only too obvious. But about the social benefits of keeping quiet about their own achievements.

Previous research has suggested this use of modesty develops in children around the age of eight. But it goes on developing for some years after that, according to a study presented to the conference by researchers from Sussex University.

They took two groups of children aged between eight and 11, from two schools. Each child viewed a multi-media presentation of eight short social scenarios in which a character received praise from an adult or peer and then responded either modestly or immodestly. Children were asked if the character's response was good or bad, and why. They also completed a social self-awarenesss scale which measures sociability and perceived popularity.

As they got older, children increasingly understood the social benefits of modesty, particularly amongst their peers, and this understanding was positively correlated with how popular they perceived themselves to be.

Now Sussex University researcher Dawn Watling is to look at a possible link between children's growing understanding of the benefits of modesty and the larger groups in which they start to play at about eight.

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