Self Awareness builds Confidence
Updated: Apr 30, 2020
Self-awareness is essential if we want to build strong, confident kids.
Imagine going through all of life's ups and downs and not having a label for the emotions that we feel. It'd be like someone blindfolding you and taking on a roller coaster. You would have no way to prepare for the high points and low points and I would bet that it wouldn't be too enjoyable.
This can be the same way kids may feel if they do not have a great deal of self-awareness. They may know that they get a certain feeling whenever their brother steals their toy (this is what happens at our house!) but they don't know what the feeling is or better yet what to do with the feeling.
Self-awareness takes some of the guesswork out of every day life. It helps us to recognize what we are feeling, why we are feeling that way, and how to make the positive choice within that feeling. As kids are better able to recognize their feelings and what causes those feelings then they are better able to self-regulate, will feel more in control, and will therefore be more confident in daily life.
3 important parts of helping kids become more self-aware are
1. Give them the words for the emotion/feeling.
2. Give them the space to have that emotion (good or bad!).
3. Help them make the best choice within that emotion.
1. Give them the words. Often times a child, especially a young child, we struggle to put into words what exactly they are feeling. As we work to help children become more self-aware it is essential that we help to give them the words that they may need in order to label their feelings. When we give something a label then it becomes more concrete and since emotions can often be abstract to kids, giving it a label will help to make it more understandable and controllable. This may mean that when a child is throwing a fit that you discuss how they are feeling "angry" that they can't have the piece of candy. Or, when they are bouncing off the walls before going to Grandma's you can explain that they are feeling "excited" or "joyful" about going to Grandma's. What exact emotion word you use (happy, sad, joyful, angry, etc.) does not matter much at this point but more that they have the words to describe what they are feeling. As they got older you can work into the nuances of each emotion :)
2. Give them the space to have the emotion, whether good or bad. This is a tough one to do because often times when kids are expressing their emotions, whether good or bad, we want to help them fix the problem or it is at an inopportune time (always!). However, it is essential that we help kids to learn that they emotions are not wrong. Often times when we can think that we are teaching them that what they are doing is wrong (which often times it is!) but what they may hear is that the emotion is wrong and therefore they will try to squelch that emotion and keep from feeling it. We need to help them recognize that having an emotion is ok. Its what you DO within the emotion that matters!
3. The last and most important piece of helping a child become more self-aware is to begin to help them realize the choice they make when they are feeling a particular emotion. Our goal is not to stop them from feeling the emotion (even though sometimes we would like to!) but instead to help them make a positive choice within that emotion. This means when they are feeling angry because their little sister bonked down their tower that they will find a solution to the problem (move it to a higher location) as opposed to throwing the blocks at their sister because they are angry.
The ultimate goal with self-awareness in kids is to help them recognize their emotions and then help them realize that they have the control to still make a positive choice for themselves within this emotion. As kids grow in self-awareness they will also grow in their confidence because they will recognize that no matter how they feel in a particular situation that they will be able to still make a positive decision for themselves. And that's the real goal. When we challenge kids beyond their limits in a safe space we can teach them how to make positive choices within their emotions in ALL situations.
One way to increase self-awareness is to discuss with your child on a regular basis their emotions and feelings and the choices they make within those feelings. The more discussion there is around this process the better able they will be to grow in self-awareness.
Building confident kids is hard work. But one day at a time, one step at a time, one emotion at a time, we can help to guide kids to becomes strong, confident adults!
Check out our video on self-awareness here!