The first years exposed to the school environment are a wonderful opportunity for children to discover who they are and further develop their unique personalities. More specifically, it’s a time to increase child self-awareness, which is the thinking skill that focuses on a child’s ability to accurately judge their own performance and behavior and to respond appropriately to different social situations. Self-Awareness helps our kids tune into their feelings, as well as to the behaviors and feelings of others. For example, a child successfully uses self-awareness skills when they notice they are talking too loudly in a library where other children are trying to work, and then adjusts the volume or their voice to a more considerate level.
However, some children are newer to this process (sometimes due to lack of exposure to others or because of other household factors), while some simply have a harder time adequately gauging their individual circumstances and acting upon them. Are any of these you child’s case? Here are some great ways for parents and teachers to encourage child self-awareness in small children:
Show your child what feelings look like: Have you ever seen those scales for pain at the doctor’s office with smiley and sad faces? This is a great example of a visual cue used to bridge a communication gap, as it sometimes occurs with young children. By sitting together to draw faces with different emotions, children can identify each one. This is a good opportunity to talk about the last time he or she felt this emotion and what caused it. This will increase a child’s vocabulary, while also helping him or her more accurately identify emotions.
Help children identify the feelings of others: Take opportunities everyday to help your child identify the feelings of others. Pointing out emotions in others is a good way to help your child begin to understand those feelings in him or herself. By making a facial expression, your child will make a stronger connection between the emotion to his or her own body language.
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Point out feelings using stories: Emotions may be expressed, not only in the faces of characters, but also in the words of a story. Event if a book has no images (or you are reading any other material to your child), whatever happens to characters or people mentioned in the text can become a relatable experience for them to identify emotions, and situate them in specific contexts.
Talk through the process of your child’s emotions: If a child seems angry or frustrated, they sometimes will exhibit a very particular body language (which is usually a clear indication for parents and teachers of a change in emotions). By prompting your child to talk about his or her feelings as they occur, you can help him or her identify and better understand those feelings.
Help your child recognize his or her strengths: When a child shows interest in an activity or topic, there is typically an innate strength or affinity for it within him or her. One of the best ways to increase child self-awareness is by helping children understand and value their strengths. Encouraging their ideas and interests can effectively achieve this. A parent or teacher may gather a lot of information about what a child usually answers to basic “like/dislike” questions, but with close attention, one can quickly find the most recurring topics in their daily conversations. It’s important to nurture their interest; this will enhance their strengths and build great confidence.
about the author:
Mary Ann Nevis is an accomplished educator in the private sector since 1992, specializing in early education and counseling for children ages 5 to 10. Aside from being a school teacher and writer, she is also a mother of 3 and avid collector of books and antiques, with over 700 books in her study alone! Now that’s what we call #bookproud.