Self-knowledge, the recognition of a person’s strengths, weaknesses and personality, is not innate. It is a skill that can be cultivated and is particularly important for the development of children. Self-aware children understand how others perceive their reactions and broader behavior, they know when to utilize the strengths of their character, when to retreat, and have the perception to identify areas in which they need improvement. They tend to have more functional and happy relationships and greater success in whatever they choose to engage in.
But how can parents contribute to its cultivation? Raising self-aware children requires delicate and skillful handling. The key lies in how to utilize the parent-child relationship. Parents need to empathetically enter the anxieties and world of children and accept their own feelings. When we reflect on our children’s qualities, when we respect their desires, we help them develop a narrative that promotes self-awareness.
Children have a tendency to explore and participate. The more we allow children to be active in their own lives, to act and interact, to observe in the reactions of others the result of their own action, the more they begin to perceive their similarities and differences from others and complete the pieces of the puzzle of themselves.
In these relationships and conditions that children are exposed to, parents must enter openly, listen actively and without criticism to the wants and needs of children and form an environment of safety and acceptance. Let’s not forget that we can express ourselves but also explore only where we feel free and safe.
The road to self-knowledge is a continuous process that never stops. It requires good intentions and consistency. For parents, being next to their children in this exploration can be a unique opportunity to lay the foundations to build a beautiful and functional relationship with mutual trust and security.