In the book The Power of Showing Up by Dr. Dan Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson, the authors unpack the 4S’s necessary to cultivate resilience and other qualities for a healthy, integrated mind. The 4S’s are Safe, Seen, Secure, and Soothed. There is tremendous wisdom in all their strategies, but this one seems to touch every aspect of development and character formation.


When I reflect upon the virtue of modesty, it strikes me how the 4S’s provide a positive framework for cultivating this virtue. Modesty regulates our need to attract attention and seek ways to promote ourselves, whether in speech or in how we dress. 


Let’s briefly examine how the 4S’s can aid in cultivating this virtue. First, when a child feels safe and seen, they do not experience an exaggerated need to call attention to themselves. Instead, there is a self-possession whereby others have seen and acknowledged them. The child’s need to repress feelings or act out decreases when their emotions are recognized and soothed. And finally, when they feel secure, the action contrary to modesty diminishes.


Modesty is a beautiful virtue and, when properly cultivated, can lead to strength of character whereby the person’s true dignity shines forth.


May we all strive to be more aware of applying the 4S’s in our interactions with the youth. This strategy, developed by professionals in interpersonal neurobiology, can help us raise a generation of virtuous and integrated young people.

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