Sarah Myles

"Sarah Myles is a freelance writer. Originally from London, Sarah now lives in North Yorkshire with her husband, two children and two cats."

DadAndKidHandsSmall The Self Aware ChildMy children never cease to amaze me but, on occasion, they will say or do something that thoroughly blows my mind. This week, it was the unveiling of The Self-Aware Child.

It was the evening of another long day, and sitting in the car on the way to a school event, I heard my son’s voice drift through from the back seat.



“You know that thing I do, where something is really hard, so I say I’ll do it later, and later, and later, and then I just never do it?”

“Erm, yes?”

“Well, at school, I was peeling an apple, and it was really really hard, but I did it anyway!”

Mind: blown.

I proceeded to praise him effusively – more so than usual – and, after a solid ten minutes of congratulation from me, he seemed a bit confused. Why was I so much more excited about this particular achievement? I broke it down for him.

Firstly – the basics:

  1. First and foremost – the thing itself. As he pointed out, tasked with something hard, he persevered and succeeded. Brilliant.
  2. He recognised his own achievement.
  3. Having recognised it, he was able to share it with us at home.

Then, the truly mind-blowing stuff:

  1. In explaining it, he displayed incredible self-awareness – “You know that thing I do…” – showing that he recognises his own behavioural patterns and can discuss them objectively.
  2. Not only does he recognise his behavioural patterns, but he can also understand that some of them present an obstacle that he is capable of overcoming.

Then, the icing on the cake. Having explained how significant his achievement was, and that we were all very proud of him, I asked if he was proud of himself.

“Well, I don’t think I was at the time, but now I am.”

He had – in one statement - reflected, assessed his emotions objectively, recognised them and communicated his conclusions.

This is a huge milestone for him. Among the mindful parenting strategies I employ is an underlying emphasis on self-awareness, feeling that this is key to lifelong mental and emotional health. Even when our psychological health – for whatever reason - is less than 100%, with self-awareness, we can recognise problems early on and resolve issues swiftly, recovering quicker.

Alongside this is positive, well-balanced self-esteem. While it is important for them to know that we are all proud of them every day, it is of greater importance that they learn to be proud of themselves. Then, their self-esteem is based internally, rather than externally, and is therefore a solid foundation, rather than a goalpost always moving out of reach.

What makes this particular conversation so mind-blowing is the combination of his achievement, his ability to communicate it, and the confirmation that those strategies, and the rationale behind them, are effective. He is successfully taking on board these healthy techniques.

Most mind-blowing of all, however, is that he is five years old.

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