Self-awareness is the ability to accurately recognize feelings and understand how they relate to behavior.
During these early elementary years, when children are in a formal school setting, they’re interacting with more peers and adults. This increased exposure to others begins to broaden their understanding of the world. Children at this age are developing the ability to identify their feelings and what causes them. They are also learning how to manage their emotions and behave appropriately. The concepts highlighted in this section are based on the five sets of competencies developed by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL).
Your child should be able to identify basic emotions like sadness, happiness, and fear. Your child will also be able to begin to describe and understand what causes these emotions. For example, if a sibling or friend doesn’t share a favorite toy or game, your child should be able to explain why this scenario caused him or her to feel mad. As self-awareness develops, they will be able to distinguish between subtle emotions and evaluate their causes and consequences.
At this age, your child should also be able to identify what he or she likes and dislikes, such as games to play and subjects that interest her, like English or art.
At this young age, your child may have a hard time saying exactly what he or she is feeling. She may be upset without quite having the vocabulary or the self-awareness to fully explain her emotions.For example, she may know what it feels like to be mad or sad, but not angry, embarrassed, ashamed, or disappointed. Or he may feel sad, but not know why. For younger children, this frustration can lead to crying or temper tantrums, and even physical aggression. That frustration comes from not yet having the proper way to express their emotions. As your child develops self-awareness, she will learn to manage her behavior.
Another part of self-awareness is your child’s ability to recognize his strengths and challenges, and to identify areas where he excels. At this age, these can be simple activities like riding a bike, coloring, counting to ten, or being a helper around the house by setting the table. If your child needs help with any of the examples above, asking for help is also part of self-awareness.
At this young age, your child may have a hard time saying exactly what she is feeling. These tips can help build that self-awareness.
Keep in mind every child develops at his or her own pace. If you have concerns about your child’s development, please contact your healthcare provider or your child’s teacher or school counselor, or visit our additional resources page.