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Mindful Games and Exercises for Fostering Self-Awareness in Kids

It's a term we've heard before - self-awareness. But what does it entail? Without too much jargon, self-awareness means you understand when certain emotions or thoughts arise and know how to manage them. This is important for adults, but what about children under our care? The more our students understand themselves and their emotions, what others call socio-emotional learning, the better equipped they are to handle new situations, including standing up for themselves and others, managing stress, problem-solving, and more. Here are five activities that instill self-awareness skills in young children.




Breathing activity

A breathing activity can help children of all ages learn how to identify and manage their emotions when they're sad, worried, or stressed. Take a minute in your classroom and politely ask the students to pause their actions, put their hands on their bellies, and take a deep breath for three seconds, then out for another three. Children love to do this; it really calms them down and can become a habit. This simple activity can teach students to be aware of their thought processes.


Mindfulness

You can take the breathing exercise above to another level by asking the students to identify the sensations they feel in their bodies while taking deep breaths. For example, ask, "Can you notice your shoulders moving up?" or "Do you notice your heart beating?" It's a simple exercise that improves their ability to pay attention to themselves while also calming their mind. It's also fun and engaging for all children. For extra fun activities, you can ask the students to close their eyes, imagine a color - say blue or whichever color you pick - and associate that color with calmness.


Writing a story

Sometimes, children may have a hard time expressing exactly how they feel in verbal form. Others may not know what they're feeling - perhaps it's a mixture of emotions. One way of solving this problem is to engage them in an activity where they can write a story. It could be a story about their cat, dog, or sibling. As they write, they get in tune with their subconscious mind, and in the process, they can recognize any emotions. It's an excellent activity for self-awareness in children.


Drawing

For children with learning disabilities, say Dyslexia, drawing can be an alternative to writing. You can make it even more fun by giving them a prompt like "What's your favorite animal?" "Can you draw that animal?" Ensure you make available their drawing material, such as paper and colored pencils or crayons. This activity allows children to get in tune with their personalities and preferences. As they draw, you can praise their effort, boosting their self-confidence. Drawing also makes learning inclusive for every child, regardless of their learning style or abilities.


Debates

Help your students build self-awareness by organizing a debate for them. The discussion doesn't have to be complex like those in high school; it can be simple, like "Are dogs better than cats?" This will promote self-awareness regarding personality, personal interest, and the ability to express opinions. Debates also encourage critical thinking and effective communication, both crucial skills for self-awareness.


References:

Today. (n.a). kindergarten-self-awareness-skills. Retrieved from: https://www.today.com/parenting-guides/kindergarten-self-awareness-skills-t177489

 
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Sheika Petteway, Chief ENCOURAGING Officer

She provides educational and leadership training to individuals and organizations. She is the founder and CEO of Elite Educational Enterprises and has several years experience serving in the early childhood education industry.


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