Fun activities to help boost kids’ self-awareness and create a sense of identity

Textbooks tell us that the sense of self develops between 18 and 24 months old. However, we all know how complicated it is even for adults to answer the question ‘Who am I?’ So here are some ways to help your child become more self-aware, along with things to avoid.

Rouge test (for Under 3’s)

  • Who knew, a bit of lipstick can give some great insights into how your small child perceives him/herself. Add a dab of lipstick to your child’s cheek without them seeing. Then see their reaction when looking in a mirror.
  • Some kids will go straight for the dot on their face (usually considered as a sign of recognition). Some just bang or kiss the mirror – seems they like or are interested in what they see. And some others still might look round the back of the mirror to see who’s there.

Social recognition – labelling

Recognising yourself in the mirror is the first step in acknowledging that what I see in the mirror is how other people see me. For example, if we think that others consider ourselves as shy, we might act shyly to conform with their expectation, even if maybe we are not that timid. This is why we need to be very careful whenever we label a child, it might become a self-fulfilling prophecy! The sense of self is created from social interactions and communications, so the mind as well is ‘socially’ shaped. See this Baby Brains article for more info..

Focus on others

Healthy self-identity is built when kids are not preoccupied with themselves and experience the intrinsic rewards of improving the lives of others. As parents the best thing we can do is model compassion, namely:

  • emphasise kindness to all
  • do not administer physical punishment but rather moral reasoning
  • model caring behaviour with people outside the family

Self-awareness with school work

If students reflect on how they learn, they become better learners. Carefully checking over one’s work, taking the time to see that words are spelled correctly while writing, and stepping back to make connections and inferences about what one has read are all important skills. It’s reflecting about what one has learned, and not simply memorizing a series of facts.

School work 2 – a tip on spelling

Ask children to think about themselves while generating sentences to practice their spelling – such as sentences beginning with the word “I”. According to some studies this can significantly improve their subsequent spelling performance.

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Mum of Leah (7), Reuben (5) and Abigael
Founder, Bubele