How to Help Your Adopted Child Cultivate Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is a skill that can be learned and practiced in ways that can also be fun.

Rhonda McClung October 18, 2015
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September came and went without much fanfare for National Self Awareness month, but for those of us with children by adoption, it was a great time to look at our children and make sure that they have this skill that’s so essential to growing into healthy and strong adults.

Self-awareness provides our children with a sense of self that results in self-motivation, a sense of independence and individuality, self-control, and self-advocacy. From a parent’s vantage point, we can watch our children interact with, and react to, the people in their lives.

Sometimes it’s hard to help children develop this skill without feeling like we’re constantly correcting their actions. Fortunately, self-awareness is a skill that can be learned and practiced in ways that can also be fun. Here are six roles your adopted child can play to learn and cultivate self-awareness:

Be a player. Play video games. Not all time in front of the television screen playing video games has to be bad. The right video games can teach real skills that cultivate self-awareness. Look for games that provide an opportunity to take turns with another player, cooperate, and compete. Video games also provide a chance to learn from mistakes and make the appropriate corrections.

Be a teacher. Let your child teach you something. The Whip and Nae Nae may kill me, but letting my daughter teach me something she knows that I don’t makes her aware of her strengths and causes her to be aware of my reactions and react accordingly. To teach me, she has to use listening and observational skills. Plus, she has to use the appropriate tone of voice and respond to my reactions to get her instructions across.

Be a giver. Make it possible for your child to spend time on a charitable cause. Understanding that the world outside your home is not the same as the world inside your home is critical to understanding that a person’s environment does not define who that person is, just like your child’s current or past situation doesn’t have to define him.

Be a friend. Let your child host another child at your home or in a park. Help your child set up a playdate with a friend. Prior to the friend’s arrival, try to anticipate some of the friend’s needs and interests. Have your child prepare some activities that they expect their friend will enjoy.

Be a storyteller. Sit still with your child in a busy place and watch people. Talk about how couples or groups of people are interacting. Make guesses about what is happening then use their facial expressions, tone of voice and actions to prove your imagined scenarios. Discuss whether their responses seem appropriate to the story you have made up. Make up other scenarios where the reactions would be right or wrong.

Be an actor. Encourage your child to think about a situation that she has been in or may be in that made her uncomfortable or unhappy. Discuss ways to respond that would be appropriate while making your child feel better about the outcome. Each of you can take a role and act out the scene giving her options for responses that would make her feel better and give her the confidence to say what needs to be said in the right situation.

Self-awareness allows a child to be his own person and act in ways that make him and others he is with feel better.  It’s a vital a child’s social and emotional growth. And the best part is, it can be learned and practiced.

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Rhonda McClung

Rhonda McClung is a professional fundraiser and has previously worked as a legislative aide and newspaper reporter. She loves to tell stories, her own and other people's. She is the mother of a son and a daughter. One is biological and one is adopted, but she can never remember which one is which.

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