Self-awareness is an important skill for kids with learning and attention issues. Children who are self-aware are familiar with their strengths and weaknesses. This means they know what they’re good at—and what they need to improve at to be successful.
For example, a child with dyslexia who’s self-aware might acknowledge that he needs extra time to study during the week when there’s a spelling test on Friday.
Developing self-awareness in grade school can set your child up for success in middle school. It can also help him learn to advocate for his needs when he’s older. Here are a few ways you can help your grade-schooler gain self-awareness.
1. Acknowledge the issues.
Grade-schoolers may not yet fully understand their learning and attention issues. That’s OK. But it’s important for your child to begin to acknowledge his strengths and weaknesses. (“I’m good at other things, but reading and spelling can be hard for me.”)
Have a conversation about what’s hard for him and what he’s good at. Work together on coming up with learning strategies to build on his strengths. Here are some ideas to get you started.
2. Look at the big picture.
Even though it’s important to acknowledge your child’s learning and attention issues, it’s also good to keep them in perspective. A child who always hears about his dyslexia may start to feel like the things he’s good at don’t matter.
Remind your child that his learning and attention issues are just a small part of who he is. Help your grade-schooler identify and celebrate his strengths.
3. Don’t let weakness be a taboo topic.
Try not to shy away from talking about shortcomings. You can use members of your family as examples for your child: “Dad is great at fixing things that break but not so great at making dinner.” You can also use family pets as funny examples: “The dog does great with you, but he’s not very good with the neighbor’s cat!”
4. Nurture your child’s passions.
Remind your child what he’s good at. Let him know about compliments others give him when he’s not around: “Your art teacher said you’re one of the most creative kids in class. Is art really fun for you? Would you like to go to an art museum or take more art classes?” Hearing how others value him can help him become more aware of his strengths.
5. Let your child try new things.
Kids with learning and attention issues may not want to try new things because of fear of failing. But trying a variety of activities can help your child gain awareness of what he’s capable of.
Reassure him that he doesn’t have to like or be good at everything. It’s more important for him to discover and recognize new interests. Consider extracurricular activities. Extracurricular activities can also help your child build self-esteem.
Learn more about self-awareness, a key factor of emotional intelligence. You can also learn more about talking to your child about strengths and weaknesses.