An important element of emotional intelligence is knowing ourselves. Self-awareness is a process taught and practiced throughout life. Children can become aware of themselves by the end of their first year or between 15 and 24 months.

Self awareness is understanding who we are, what we can do, knowing our own strengths and weaknesses, how we get to be the way we are and how our presence and behavior affect others. Understanding our own needs, desires, failings and habits contributes to what makes us unique human beings not like any other.

It is up to parents to nurture and develop this trait in their children. It is one of the most essential attributes parents can help their children learn. If children understand their own thoughts, emotions, strengths, challenges, needs and dreams, they can make better choices to help them be successful throughout their lives.

Parents can teach children to be confident — how to take risks, develop a growth mindset “I can!” and celebrate their wins and successes. Parents can teach children to compliment themselves: “I did it!” Trying new things together and giving children opportunities for a chance to learn about themselves are other things parents can do.

Teach children about their feelings and emotions and possible ways to handle them. Discuss with your children their hopes and dreams and the goals they can set to accomplish them — things like activities they would like to try, where they might like to travel, how they see themselves in the future. (thepathways2success.com)

Thinking about these things focuses on a child’s ability to accurately judge their own performance and behavior and respond appropriately to different social situations in which they find themselves. How to handle frustration, anger, fear and undesirable reaction taught to young children will encourage future interaction with others.

Websites such as fatherly.com/parenting/how-to-teach-self-awareness-to-kids/ suggests you teach children “I” statements such as “I feel ____ when_____.” This helps children with honest communication. “I feel mad when my sister goes into my room without asking me first.” Parents might take this opportunity to promote creative problem solving as well.

There are other websites with ideas to help you implement strategies to help your children of any age learn to be aware of their personality and to develop a positive character. Strategies such as writing in a journal, drawing one’s feelings, maybe mediation and family meetings and/or small peer group discussion of ways to handle physical and emotional pain may help.

Such books as “Be Who You Are,” by Todd Parr; “The Things I Love About Me,” by Trace Moroney, “Mixed Me,” by Taye Diggs, “You’re Here for a Reason,” by Nancy Tillman, and “I Like Me!” by Nancy Carlson are just some of the books suggested by readbrightly.com/books-that-help-kids-know-and-love-themselves/ to help your children learn their value and awareness of themselves in a complicated and confusing world.

Every human has four endowments — self-awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom. The power to choose, to respond, to change. — Stephen Covey

Endow your children with these gifts.

Southern Arizona resident Bette Mroz is a former teacher, reading specialist and principal. As a mother and grandmother, she continues to help her family learn. She can be contacted at bettemroz@gmail.com

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