Self-awareness is a key predictor of a child's ability to be balanced and secure in life. Being self-aware helps kids establish positive peer relationships, get along well at home and respect authority. Self-awareness is at the core of emotional intelligence and is crucial to your children reaching their academic and personal goals throughout their lives.
7 Ways To Teach Kids Self-Awareness:
1. Be a good role model.
In order to parent self-awareness, you have to have it yourself. This means that you demonstrate through your own behaviors that you can calm your anxieties and frustrations and not act out in a negative way. If you start to act out, demonstrate that you can call a time-out on yourself and get centered again.
2. Accept and recognize your child's feelings.
Emotions are emotions. They are temporary energies meant to pass through. If we accept and acknowledge what our children are feeling, the emotions pass through much more quickly and with more understanding. Taking this time to sit with their feelings helps them to not act emotions out in a negative way. Accept the feelings from their viewpoint, and then, if possible, spin them in a positive light.
3. When in doubt, empathize.
Your empathy teaches children their emotional life is not threatening, abnormal or scary. Their emotions are not shameful or defective. They are human and manageable. In this way, you teach your children they are not alone. This helps them see that even the less-than-perfect parts of themselves are acceptable, which helps them to accept themselves and others more wholly.
4. Do not encourage the avoidance of emotions.
Emotions may be uncomfortable, but never minimize them to your children or tell your kids to "move on." Refrain from telling them what they are feeling is wrong. They may not be ready to move on, and it is important for children to learn to navigate the uncomfortable. This is how they learn and grow. We must teach them that whatever they avoid will return in the form of a similar and harder lesson, so they may as well do their learning now.
5. Encourage communication.
Repressing feelings doesn't work. Repressed sadness turns into depression; repressed anger turns into rage; repressed envy turns into jealousy; repressed love turns into possession; and repressed fear turns into anxiety/panic. When we reject or ignore our children's emotions, this causes them to repress, which leads to more severe and chronic emotional problems all throughout life. Let them express freely.
6. Time, attention and listening.
Actively listen to your children. You do not have to agree with what they say or feel, but to argue against it doesn't allow them to hear or know who they are as unique people. Accept their feelings, repeat them back to them for understanding, and listen. Show that you care and can see their point of view.
7. Teach problem solving.
Most of the time, when children experience that their emotions are understood and accepted, the emotions lose their charge and begin to dissipate. This leaves an opening for problem solving. Sometimes, kids can do this themselves. Ask them how they want or think they should handle the situation which is upsetting them. This helps them to hear themselves out, and to learn to make good decisions from within. Sometimes, they need your help to brainstorm, but resist the urge to handle the problem for them; that gives them the message that you don't have confidence in their ability to handle the problem on their own.
All children have issues they are afraid to discuss, so be there for them. To teach our kids self-awareness, we have to help them verbalize these painful or embarrassing emotions so they can understand them and move forward. It is with these emotional issues that they most need support and guidance. A child with self-awareness is able to manage his or her own emotions, which is important in learning, staying focused and being able to see the bigger picture. Teaching self-awareness gives children the ability to know their own emotions and to recognize them when they are happening, making them manageable. This is what we want as parents for our kids: a life of feeling secure from within in an unpredictable world.
Little life message: When children are self-aware, they are motivated from within, and can direct themselves toward goals and work through self-doubt.