How to Encourage Self-Awareness in Children

The first years of childhood will make their mark on our children's personalities. It's important for us to help them get to know themselves and, as a result, better understand others. Today we'll share some guidelines that parents should consider in order for children to develop self-awareness.
How to Encourage Self-Awareness in Children
María Alejandra Castro Arbeláez

Written and verified by the psychologist María Alejandra Castro Arbeláez.

Last update: 08 May, 2019

Human beings form their personality during the first eight years of life. What follows are adaptations in each life stage, but the foundation is laid during childhood. Understanding others is simpler if little ones can come to understand themselves. Keep reading to find out how we can help encourage self-awareness in children.

Developing self-awareness is a very psychological and internal process. And it’s very important. The task of parents isn’t only to model good values, but also to understand what drives their children. And even more important is helping them to practice introspection.

The good news is that we don’t have to be psychologists to do our part. Our efforts will be fundamental in our children’s social behavior. So, how can we help encourage healthy self-awareness in children?

Self-awareness in children: Dialogue as a basis of exploration

Communication among parents and children is vital in order for children to identify key values, and become aware of their actions and behavior. It’s not about correcting them. Rather, we must identify what causes them to act.

By simply maintaining a conversation rich in content, reasoning and values, we can help our children understand themselves. The goal is to help them understand the content of their actions so that they can form their own opinions and sense of judgement .

This should occur regularly, as part of daily life. For example, we can carry out didactic activities in order to reinforce self-awareness. In the process, we must equip our children with important concepts .

Identifying the good and the bad

This is an exercise that takes place often in classrooms. To carry it out, all you need is poster board, markers and magazines to cut out. The first thing you tell your children is to express their positive qualities through images and pictures.

How to Encourage Self-Awareness in Children

You can also divide the poster board in two and dedicate the other half to negative qualities. This will help your children externalize and visualize their internal virtues and defects. Children just need to say what they believe and then they’ll see it on the poster board.

It’s best to take advantage of this opportunity to explain concepts that your child doesn’t understand yet. It’s important to pay attention to the reflections that can arise from what your children say.

Exploring one’s own emotions

The way in which we handle our own emotions says a lot about who we are. When it comes to children, we need to give them the tools they need to manage their emotionsThe most important part of self-control is knowing how we feel .

To do so, we can use a didactic activity known as “The Emotion Stop Light.” It consists of making a stop light out of cardboard or felt, and then hanging it on the wall or refrigerator door.

The color red symbolizes when your child has lost control of him or herself. The yellow light, just like in real stop lights, indicates that your child is getting close to losing control.

If your child gets angry, cries or has a tantrum, then you should apply a consequence. However, if your child stays in the yellow zone and is able to calm down, then you can negotiate.

Of course, the color green means go. In this state, your child can make requests and come to an agreement. This way, we can solve controversies such as the amount of time your child spends at the park, how much dessert he or she eats, etc.

Communication among parents and children is vital in order for children to identify key values, and become aware of their actions and behavior. It’s not about correcting them. Rather, we must identify what causes them to act the way they do.

Children’s personality in two parts

It’s difficult to encourage self-awareness in children if they don’t have the opportunity to explore at an early age. Self-awareness consists of two components: self-image and the reality of one’s personality.

Self-image consists of what children believe about themselves. Here, the subjectivity of their perceptions and the images of what they want to be both come into play. As for reality, it’s the result of a child’s experiences with his or her environment.

A child’s true personality also has to do with interpersonal relationships: caretakers, friends, classmates, teachers, family members, etc. In this sense, children start to become what they perceive in their environment, but they also need to understand that they actively participate in this reality.

How to Encourage Self-Awareness in Children

Understanding others as a result of self-awareness

The premise is simple: We shouldn’t do to others what we don’t want them to do to usWe need to teach our children that this is the key to what’s right and wrong.

When children can understand themselves, then they can discover the treatment that others require. Each person has his or her personality, of course, but there are social practices and customs that we all share.

In conclusion, awareness of self and of others will allow children to enjoy their own sense of social integration. The goal is for them to understand that other people will act as a result of the treatment they receive.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.