2nd Grade Self-Awareness

At this young age, your child may have a hard time saying exactly what she is feeling. She may be upset without quite having the vocabulary or the self-awareness to fully explain her emotions. Self-awareness is the ability to accurately recognize feelings and understand how they relate to behavior. For example, she may know what it feels like to be mad or sad, but not angry, embarrassed, ashamed, or disappointed. Or she may feel sad, but not know why. For younger children, this frustration can lead to crying or temper tantrums, and even physical aggression. That frustration comes from not yet having the proper way to express their emotions. As your child develops her self-awareness, she will learn to manage her behavior. Another part of self-awareness is your child’s ability to recognize her strengths and challenges, and to identify areas where she excels. At this age, these can be simple activities like riding a bike, coloring, counting to ten, or being a helper around the house by setting the table. If your child needs help with any of the examples above, asking for help is also part of self-awareness.

What Does Self-Awareness Look Like at This Age?
Your child should be able to identify basic emotions like sadness, happiness, and fear. She should be able to begin to describe and understand what causes these emotions. For example, if a sibling or friend doesn’t share a favorite toy or game, your child should be able to explain why this scenario made her feel mad. As your child’s self-awareness develops, she will be able to distinguish between subtle emotions and evaluate their causes and consequences. 
At this age, your child should also be able to identify what she likes and dislikes, such as games she likes to play and subjects that interest her, like English or art.

Tips to Support Self-Awareness

  1. Show Your Child What Feelings Look Like

    Get a poster, or draw one with your child, of faces with different emotions. Ask your child to identify one of the emotions on the poster and when she last felt this way and why. Ask her how she’s feeling now and why she feels that way. This will increase her vocabulary while also helping her more accurately identify her emotions. 

  2. Help Your Child Identify the Feelings of Others

    Take opportunities everyday to help your child identify the feelings of others. How does his face look when he feels that way? Pointing out emotions in others is a good way to help your child begin to understand those feelings in herself. Teacher Clare Morrison suggests also asking, “Show me what happy looks like for you,” and, “What does sad look like to you?” By making a facial expression, your child is better-able to connect the emotion to her own body language.

  3. Point Out Feelings Using Family Pictures

    Many young children like to look at family photos. Take the opportunity to talk about emotions that family members are feeling. For example, wedding photos will be filled with happy people. Point out their smiles and their expressions. This could be a good opportunity to point out that someone who is crying isn’t always sad. In some cases it can mean someone is very happy.

  4. Talk About Your Child's Emotions As She's Having Them

    For example, if she seems angry or frustrated, teacher Clare Morrison suggests saying, “I noticed your eyebrows are closer together and your arms are folded. Tell me how you’re feeling right now.” By prompting your child to talk about her feelings as she’s having them, you can help her identify her feelings. Try not to label her emotion for her by saying, “You look mad” or “You look sad.” Instead, let her give a name for the way she is feeling as she begins to connect her body language to an emotion. 

  5. Help Your Child Recognize Her Strengths

    When a child shows interest in an activity or topic, it is often because she has a strength related to it. One of the best ways to help your child understand and value her strengths is to encourage her ideas and interests. You can begin to do this by asking her what she likes or noting a topic she talks a great deal about. Nurture her interest by finding related activities. For example, you can both take part in volunteering at an animal shelter if she’s interested in cats. Whatever the activity may be, by encouraging your child’s interests, you are helping to define and enhance her strengths and build her confidence.

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