Can you teach your child to be self-aware? The answer is yes. And you should start at an early age. But let us first define self-awareness. It is the ability to be conscious of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It involves recognizing and understanding your values, beliefs, and motivations. You can read more in the article “The profound value of self-awareness for a fulfilled life.”
Self-awareness is an essential aspect of personal growth. It enables you to make informed decisions and navigate your life with greater clarity and purpose. Teaching your child to become self-aware allows her to develop a sense of identity and learn how to regulate her emotions and behaviors appropriately. Additionally, she builds a positive self-image and establishes healthy relationships with others. That brings us to the question: How does a child develop self-awareness?
How do children develop self-awareness?
Children develop self-awareness gradually through different stages of development. Your child will start recognizing her body and actions as an infant and toddler. For example, babies as young as six months old can recognize their own reflection in a mirror. It is one of the earlier signs of self-awareness.
As a pre-schooler, your child starts to understand her emotions and how she relates to others. As she experiences different feelings, she learns to identify them. Therefore, she starts to know how she feels in different situations. This is an essential part of developing emotional self-awareness. Additionally, she begins to understand that her actions can affect the world around her. It helps her develop a sense of agency and control over her environment.
Once she is in elementary school, she becomes more aware of her personality traits. This is the time that she begins to compare herself to her peers. She compares herself to others to understand her strengths and weaknesses. This helps her develop a sense of identity and self-esteem.
During adolescence, self-awareness expands to include a more nuanced understanding of emotions, values, and beliefs. Adolescents can reflect on their experiences and understand their thoughts and feelings. Therefore, it helps them develop greater self-awareness.
But why is self-awareness important for children?
Importance of self-awareness for children
Self-awareness is important for various reasons
Self-regulation: A self-aware child can better regulate her emotions and behaviors. Therefore, she finds it easier to understand what triggers her feelings and how to manage them effectively.
Decision-making: Self-awareness enables your child to make better decisions. When she understands her values, strengths, and weaknesses, it acts as a roadmap for decision-making. Therefore, it helps her make choices aligned with her goals and values.
Healthy relationships: If your child is self-aware, she understands how her behaviors impact others and how she can communicate effectively with others. Therefore, it enables her to build positive relationships with peers, family members, and other adults.
Self-esteem: When your child is self-aware, she is more likely to have a positive self-image and healthy self-esteem. She will be less likely to be influenced by negative peer pressure or engage in risky behaviors.
As can be seen, self-awareness is a critical skill for your child.
Benefits of self-awareness for children
Self-awareness has numerous benefits for children, including:
Improved self-regulation: Being self-aware helps your child regulate her emotions and behaviors. It results in more positive social interactions.
Increased empathy and understanding of others: If your child is self-aware, she can better understand and empathize with others’ perspectives.
Better communication skills: Self-awareness helps your child communicate more effectively verbally and nonverbally. Therefore, it improves her ability to express herself clearly and resolve conflicts.
Greater self-esteem: A self-aware child is more likely to have a positive self-image and higher self-esteem. As a result, it leads to better mental health outcomes.
Improved academic performance: Self-awareness can help your child identify her learning strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, it leads to improved academic performance.
But how can you teach your child to be self-aware?
How to teach self-awareness to children
There are various activities to encourage self-awareness in your child. You can use reflection, journaling, and mindfulness exercises. These activities will help her develop skills to understand her own experiences, make better decisions, and communicate effectively with others. But let us look deeper.
Encourage reflection to teach your child to be self-aware
You can encourage their children to reflect on their thoughts and feelings by asking open-ended questions. Open-ended questions that do not have a “yes” or “no” answer. For example, you can ask, “Why do you think…? Or “How do you know…?
It is crucial to listen to your child’s responses actively. Active listening means that you:
- Give her undivided attention
- Acknowledge her message
- Show that you are listening by keeping eye contact, nodding, and giving verbal affirmations like “I see.”
- Provide feedback to make sure that you understand correctly
- Never judge!
- Respond Appropriately
Active listening and feedback help your child identify her emotions and understand why she feels a certain way.
You can model self-awareness by naming and discussing your emotions. Show her how you handle complicated feelings. This will demonstrate to your child that it is normal to experience a range of emotions and that it is essential to be aware of them. Also, encourage open communication and self-expression.
Practicing mindfulness will teach your child to be self-aware
Teach your child techniques like deep breathing and body scans. It helps her tune in to her thoughts and feelings. Additionally, it can help her manage uncomfortable feelings. You can also use appropriate music as an aid.
Use visual aids
Visual aids can assist your child in identifying and labeling her emotions. You can use feeling faces and emotion charts to teach her feeling vocabulary from an early age. Not only will she be able to identify her feelings, but she will also be able to express her emotions clearly.
You can encourage her to engage in regular self-reflection. Techniques like journaling or drawing help her to understand her thoughts and feelings better. A scrapbook where she can cut and paste faces and words or draw challenging situations will help her express and understand herself. Keep the activities age-appropriate. If your child is young, let her play out a problem with soft toys or other figures. But talk her through the play to help her recognize and name feelings and thoughts.
Use strengths-based approaches
Help your child identify her strengths and encourage her to use them daily. This can boost self-confidence and promote self-awareness.
Teaching your child to use positive self-talk and affirmations will build a positive self-image and increase self-awareness.
Practice positive reinforcement
- Always encourage your child to express her thoughts and feelings.
- Discuss it with her in a positive and meaningful way.
- Never judge your child for her emotions and thoughts!
Using these strategies can help your child develop self-awareness. Self-awareness is a crucial skill that will serve your child well into adulthood.
In conclusion: Prioritize self-awareness in your child’s development
I encourage you to prioritize self-awareness in your child’s development. Research has shown that self-aware children are likelier to have better mental health outcomes, improved academic performance, and stronger social connections. By prioritizing self-awareness, you are laying the foundation for her success and happiness in the future. Remember that self-awareness is a lifelong journey, and there is always time to start.
These are additional resources to help you in this journey with your child.
Resources and additional support if you want to teach your child to be self-aware
You will agree that self-awareness is essential to personal development that can positively influence a child’s emotional and social growth. Fortunately, several resources and support are available to help your child develop self-awareness.
There are several books available that can help you teach your child about self-awareness. For example, “The Feelings Book” by Todd Parr is a colorful and engaging book that teaches children how to identify and express their emotions. “What Do You Do with a Problem?” by Kobi Yamada is a book that teaches children about problem-solving and the importance of facing their fears.
If your child is struggling with self-awareness, consider seeking the help of a therapist. A therapist can work with your child to identify her emotions, thoughts, and behaviors and develop strategies to improve self-awareness.
Mindfulness practices can help your child develop self-awareness. These practices help her focus on her thoughts and emotions and become more aware of her physical sensations. Some examples of activities are:
- Focus on the five senses.
- Draw it.
- Go for a walk.
- Practice buddy breathing.
- Make you stress balls.
- Create mandalas.
- Create a sensory surprise bag.
- Practice yoga.
Several online resources are available to teach your child about self-awareness. For example, KidsHealth.org has several articles and activities designed to help children develop self-awareness.
We all want our children to live optimal life. Please share this article with other mothers that may benefit from these tools. Together we can work towards a healthy society.