Self-awareness is an essential component in developing self-advocacy skills. Before a child can advocate for their needs or comfort, they need to understand themselves. Being able to reflect on your mind, body and emotions is essential to understanding what makes you feel comfortable or uncomfortable. Here are a few ways to support the development of self-awareness with your kids.
Self-Awareness Encourages Reflection
Parents and professionals can support self-awareness in children by guiding them to reflect on their strengths and areas for growth. By discussing strengths and weaknesses, you are creating the opportunity for a child to understand and advocate for the support they need to progress and achieve their goals. Modeling self-reflection by verbalizing your own processing of events in front of, or with your children is another way to help them gain a better understanding of the benefits of this skill.
Being able to self-reflect also helps develop empathy for others and a greater self-awareness of our own feelings. Encouraging your child to explore how different situations, words, sounds, etc., make them feel will help them advocate for their emotional wellbeing and widen their perspective to recognize how such things can make others feel.
Teach Positive Self Talk
Is your child feeling down about their areas for growth? Teach them the importance of positive self-talk. Turning negative statements into positive statements allows children to build their self-esteem and confidence. It’s ok to teach your children to advocate that they are still working towards their goals. Here are some examples of positive self-talk statements that you or your child can use to encourage self-awareness:
- “I can do hard things”
- “I am still learning to cut my food by myself”
- “I am practicing my /s/ sound”
- “I worked hard today”
Teaching children to educate others on what they have been learning and achieving is a valuable skill. This allows for increased acceptance and inclusivity. When your child can share their progress and goals with friends, family, teachers, etc., it eliminates the opportunity for others to make assumptions about what they can and cannot do. Allowing your child to educate others on where they may be in their individual progress can promote confidence and ease any anxiety or perfectionist tendencies surrounding completing a certain skill. Remember, practice makes progress, not perfection.
Journaling to Encourage Self-Awareness
As children get older, promoting self-awareness through activities like journaling can prove beneficial for their mental and emotional well-being. Prompted journals that ask age-appropriate and different themed questions provide an opportunity for a child to look deep within themselves, helping them discover new things about themselves they can share with others when comfortable.
Developing self-awareness and the ability to self-advocate is a lifelong skill that you can continue to get better at as time goes on. Teaching our children these skills early on in life sets a solid foundation for them as they grow, helping them to better interact with themselves and the world around them.