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Why You Should Help Your Child Develop Self-Awareness

23/11/2016 4:38 PM IST | Updated 28/11/2016 8:50 AM IST
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By Purnima Jha*

The story of the Ramayana never ceases to amaze me. Not only is the tale fascinating, the lessons contained therein continue to be relevant too. One of my favourites is the story of when team Hanuman is standing in front of the ocean and fretting over embarking on their search for Sita. Jamvanta, who is the king of bears, tells Hanuman that he is the only one who has the ability to fly to Lanka and search for Sita. Yes! The great Hanuman had to be told by someone else about his ability to fly! Can you believe it? Apparently, Hanuman had forgotten all about his superpower because of a curse. Fortunately, thanks to Jamvanta's counsel, he realises his potential, flies high in the sky and reaches Lanka. The rest is epic!

Self-awareness has been listed as one of the 10 core life skills by the UN—it enables individuals to deal effectively with the demands of everyday life.

This story might resonate with a lot of people. They might have talents that they are not even aware of, they might not know their own strengths and capabilities! Can we be their Jamvanta and make them realise their superpowers by helping them becoming more self-aware?

What is self-awareness?

Self-Awareness is having a clear perception of one's own personality, including strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, thoughts, beliefs, motivations and emotions.

How self-awareness helps

A self-aware person:

  • Recognises his/her strengths and weaknesses.
  • Can identify what he/she needs to do to complete a task.
  • Can understand and talk about his/her feelings.
  • Recognises other people's needs and feelings.
  • Sees how his/her behaviour affects others.

Self-awareness has been listed as one of the 10 core life skills by the UN—it enables individuals to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life. If it so important, why not to start from childhood itself, when self-awareness is being shaped?

The development of self-awareness

According to research, self-awareness starts around the age of 1-3 years. The child starts looking in the mirror and realises that it his/her image. The child begins to know his/her own name and refers to himself/herself by that name. Kids also start getting clarity on their own likes and dislikes, needs and wishes. As a child develops self-awareness, it gives parents a remarkable opportunity to help them find their own direction, which in turn will benefit the child for the rest of his/her life.

Bodily self-awareness

Body awareness helps children build a perception of the dimensions of their body i.e. the shapes their bodies can make and spaces into which they can fit. Kids become aware of the movements their bodies can make and what their body parts actually are.

Here are a few activities that you can do with your child.

• Ask your child to close their eyes and touch body parts on command—e.g. touch your feet, eyes, arm etc.

• Play Simon Says. Ask your child to imitate your movements—e.g. close your eyes, nod your head, wiggle your toes etc.

• Have your child follow commands such as "wave the right hand", "stomp the left foot", "hop on one foot" etc.

• Have your child touch body parts to objects. Your instruction can be: touch your knees to the floor, head to the wall, hands to the window, etc.

Here is a video that teaches kids about body-awareness.

Emotional awareness

As kids grow, so do the dimensions of self-awareness you can enlighten them about. For example, it's important to teach children to be aware of their emotional states and also learn how to manage their feelings appropriately. But more about that in my next blog!

Meanwhile, keep encouraging your little Hanuman to realise their immense potential and let them cross the bigger oceans of life. Happy parenting!

Purnima Jha has been a teacher and a curriculum designer, and is currently working for Appystore. She loves kids and is passionate about education. When she is not daydreaming, she manages to do her work and write blogs. She is mother to a six-year-old son who is the main source of inspiration for her blogs.

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