4 Ways to Promote Self Awareness in Children
Helping children get to know themselves, understand their emotions and assess their attitudes lays the foundation for emotional health throughout their lives.
Self awareness is the key to emotional fulfillment. In fact, once we acquire this ability, we’ll always have an emotional management strategy at our disposal.
“Of all the possible knowledge, the wisest and most useful is self-knowledge.”
Therefore, it’s important that we cultivate these aspects in our kids so they’ll grow up healthy and happy. Here are four ways you can help your kids develop self-awareness.
1- What others think doesn’t define us
Believing that we are just what others think of us is a very common mistake among kids (and, of course, also among adults). Undeniably, at a certain age kids tend to label just about everything, even people.
At first, these classifications may represent an important attempt to relate to the world. However, they work against the recognition of our own identity. We end up believing that we’re basically just a collection of labels: tall, fat, handsome, intelligent.
This obviously doesn’t define a person, but it can end up defining a child’s behavior and thoughts if they, over many years, are submitted to labels and external expectations.
A child, like anyone who has a very diverse inner world, must understand that others do as well.
It’s important for a child to understand that his classmate isn’t just “the one who plays soccer the best,” but that he also thinks, feels, laughs and cries.
2- We don’t have to let our emotions control us
“Knowing others well is intelligence. Knowing yourself well is wisdom.”
Children must understand that before an emotion (like anger, for example) strongly manifests itself, it has given us many warnings and has shown itself in subtle ways on many levels.
We can use the recipe metaphor. Encourage your child to reflect on the flavor of their emotions and slowly recognize each one of its ingredients. We can begin the game forwards or backwards, uncooked or with the finished plate. Thus, they’ll unravel each ingredient that makes up each emotion’s flavor.
3- Purposes don’t define us, our attitudes do
It’s common for us to ask children the wonderful question: “what do you want to be when you grow up?“ They answer: a doctor, nurse, hair dresser, carpenter…Then we ask them why they want to be that, and the conversation is over.
At the end of the day, “what do you want to be” is a great conversation started, but does it define a child? Of course not. This is just an example, but children have to know that we are not what we accomplish or want to accomplish.
Children have to understand that their own effort and attitude is what will define their future, not their expectations or hopes. We must encourage them to mentally explore their possibilities and potential paths and develop a proactive and independent attitude towards the future.
4- Seek self-awareness every day
“Seeing is more than looking. To see is to notice the details.
To correctly see a flower you have to look very closely, on the inside.”
-Alain (French philosopher and essay writer)-
Acknowledging our children’s emotional states and thoughts will help them develop their socio-emotional skills properly.
Helping our children reach this stage of emotional development requires a lot of time and effort. It’s important to be patient.
We have to encourage the child to acquire the daily habit of reflecting on what they’ve done, how they felt, what they like and how they can get it.
It’s simply about inviting them to think about their day, desires and dislikes. An ideal way of doing that is to talk about the mind as a “thinking machine” that needs to be taken care of and checked in with. This helps them understand the importance of connecting with themselves.