People often talk about the need for “self-awareness” in kids with learning and attention issues. But what is it and why is it so important?
Self-awareness is a skill that helps your child tune in to his feelings, thoughts and actions. It’s more than just being able to recognize these things. It means understanding that how he acts on his thoughts and feelings affects himself and others.
Types of Self-Awareness
There are two kinds of self-awareness. Private self-awareness is when your child is aware of something about himself that other people might not be. For example, say your child has to read in front of the class. Recognizing the feeling of butterflies in his stomach as a signal that he’s nervous is private self-awareness.
Public self-awareness is when your child is aware of how other people are seeing him. This can be hard for kids who have trouble reading social cues. For example, say your child stands very close to other kids while talking. Noticing that he is making others uncomfortable and taking a step back is an example of public self-awareness.
How Self-Awareness Helps Kids
Private and public self-awareness work together to help your child understand that what he’s thinking and feeling—how he’s “seeing” himself—might not always be the way other people see him. When your child has good self-awareness skills, he:
- Recognizes his strengths and weaknesses
- Can identify what he needs to do to complete a task
- Recognizes errors in schoolwork and makes edits or changes
- Can understand and talk about his feelings
- Recognizes other people’s needs and feelings
- Sees how his behavior affects others
Kids who have self-awareness do a better job self-monitoring. That means your child is able keep track of what he’s doing (either in learning or socially) and figure out what’s working and what’s not working. Self-awareness also leads to self-reflection—thinking over things that happened in order to find ways to make things work better next time.
Learning and Attention Issues and Self-Awareness
Self-awareness is important for kids with learning and attention issues. Your child might be aware of his challenges, but being aware of his interests and strengths is important, too.
Knowing more about how he thinks and how he comes across to others gives your child a better sense of how to face and work around his challenges. It helps him learn from mistakes and begin speaking up for what he needs.
Helping your child gain self-awareness can start in small ways. Learn more about how to help your grade-schooler, middle-schooler or high-schooler gain self-awareness. Talk to your child about learning and attention issues. Helping your child learn more about himself and his strengths can put him on the road to advocating for himself.