In today’s digital world, children have an ever-increasing amount of ways to interact with others and connect to the world around them. It is important, then, for parents to work to help their kids understand how such media can affect one’s self-image, and introduce tools to help kids better manage their Self-Awareness skills.
Self-Awareness is a skill that is critical to develop as your child progresses through school. It will help him make good decisions, find the right friends, and function well in social environments. But it all starts with you and your child’s relationship. So work together and use some of following strategies to help your child develop strong self-awareness skills.
5 Strategies to Improve Self-Awareness Skills:
1. Take photographs. Use a photo editing app like Instagram to alter pictures that your child takes throughout the day. Engage his self-awareness by forcing him to think critically about each of the subjects he photographed. If the picture is of a person, discuss that person’s visible characteristics. You can learn a lot about a person just from looking at them. Using a combination of filters and effects, ask your child to attempt to bring out certain elements of their personality. If the subject is walking with a trudge or looking down, maybe a darker filter could bring out a more somber tone. It’s easiest to work with light and dark filters first, as it sets a more general mood for the picture. Strategies like this allow your child to think about personality traits of individuals.
2. Work out. Another important aspect of the self-awareness thinking skill is the ability to judge one’s own actions and behaviors. Picking up on social cues is only part of the skill. For example, understanding one’s own strengths and weaknesses is a critical life skill. Physical activity helps to develop this particular aspect of the self-awareness. Simple things like doing pushups, pull ups, sprints, and jumping jacks will help your child understand the extent of his physical strength. When he knows his limits, your child will be less likely to hurt himself, as he wont engage in risky behavior, or certain activities that may put him in harms way. Be sure to count each of your child exercises and time his sprints. This way your child can compare his results to others that are his age and weight. The physical side to the skill is just as important as the mental, and is often overlooked.
3. Know your limits. Similar to how your child your understand his physical limits, he should understand the boundaries of his mental capacities as well. Simply put: he should know when to ask for help. One of the most important metacognitive skills for children is to recognize when they need additional assistance to finish a task. Asking for help does not make your child less capable, a notion you should be sure to instill. Requesting help gives your child a chance to improve his work. When he has a writing assignment for school, explain that it is extremely helpful to have another pair of eyes proofread his work and look for inconsistencies. Set your child up with a study buddy who can edit his work. If none of his peers are capable, read it yourself, offering suggestions. Even when making a suggestion, use positive reinforcement and acknowledge areas in the paper that were strong. Too much criticism can turn a person away from a subject.
4. Practice self-assessment. Sometimes the best way for your child to get a sense of his work it to ask him to pose questions to himself. Reflective thinking forces your child to try and understand the though processes that went into each sentence and paragraph. Metacognition, or thinking about one’s own thinking, not only aids in editing and revising, but also allows your child to get inside his own head. Questions such as “why did I choose this word?” or “how can I make this sentence more clear and concise” allow your child to learn about his own writing patterns, a technique that often takes a third party observer. By asking questions, your child essentially removes himself from his own writing, and gives him a chance to be objective. And objectivity is an extremely important part of the writing process, and an element of the self-awareness thinking skill.
5.) Don’t make the same mistake twice. Often when your child rushes in an attempt to get his work done he will make errors. Everyone gets a question or two wrong at some point; just make sure it’s not the same question. If your child is constantly making the same mistakes, like mispronouncing and misspelling a particular word, then he is not really learning. Drill your child when he makes a mistake. If it’s a spelling error have him write the word down three times as soon as the mistake is realized. Wait five minutes, then ask him to write it down again. Repetition and rote memory strategies like these are not as popular learning strategies as they once were, but for simple mistakes they are still effective. Soon your child should realize when he frequently making the same errors, and will take it upon himself to ensure it does not happen again. Because there’s nothing more frustrating to parents, teachers, and the child that to make the same error over and over again.