Give your child the gift of self-awareness

I think self-awareness is probably the most important thing towards being a champion. Billie Jean King

Self-awareness is a ‘buzz’ word, something I become more and more aware of! It is everywhere; self-development, self-help, yoga and personal growth resources all talk about self-awareness. So why am I going there?

Since starting my counselling work I have supported in excess of 2000 children and young people. I have developed my own approach to working with them based on what I have experienced through this time; the majority of children and young people I see fundamentally struggle to process and deal with their experiences and resulting emotions, this then presents itself through behaviours which is what they are initially referred to me for.

One of my continuing observations is that there are commonalities which arise with almost all of those that I support. Most notably, children and young people will often have no understanding of why they do what they do, why they feel the way they feel, feeling they have no control over there world, they struggle to empathise, do not cope well with difficult emotions, struggle to self-regulate or manage themselves, believe they have no say, have no idea who they are in relation to self or others, what they want or need, have no goals or ambitions, have low self-esteem and a lack of belief in themselves. We cannot fix the cause of the issues children and young people may be facing or will face, what we can do is provide the tools and resources for children and young people to cope, change, understand their world, and be and achieve the best they can for themselves.

All that I have learnt from supporting children and young people led to the development of our Emotional Education programme, and I truly believe every child needs a level of emotional education to identify and fulfil their potential and cope with all that life throws at them. Central to this programme is self-awareness, this is the building block for the rest of the work, without awareness nothing can change. If children and young people cannot see/acknowledge there is a problem, how can they possibly be expected to make any changes? And how can they make any changes when they have no idea that there may be another way they can be? We cannot control what life may have in store for us but with awareness what we can do, is choose how we react and respond to whatever may happen.

It’s not the events of our lives that shape us, but our beliefs as to what those events mean. Tony Robbins

One of the biggest issues children and young people tell us they struggle with is ANGER! There is a feeling that they have no control over their anger and they can’t help it, it just happens. We will work with children in several different ways to raise their awareness about their own anger and identify why they feel they have no control over their anger and where that belief comes from, along with looking at their experiences of anger. Through growing self-awareness children and young people begin to understand why they react with anger in the moment, but also and essentially, they begin to realise they have a choice, they can choose how to react or respond and this doesn’t have to be with anger. Anger is a multi-layered feeling and normally a response to a perceived threat. But alongside the anger exists other feelings, such as, hurt, pain and feeling judged; crucially the other feelings bring up a lot of vulnerability and hence the anger is a way to mask and deflect from those feelings. With this awareness the children and young people we support go on to make more positive choices for themselves and have a sense of empowerment and responsibility, knowing they control their anger as opposed to being controlled by their anger. Without self-awareness this would be impossible.

There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self. Benjamin Franklin

As a parent and a counsellor, I feel self-awareness is one of my biggest assets. I have worked hard on knowing, understanding and managing myself and do so on a daily basis. As a counsellor my self-awareness is invaluable, as a parent it is essential! I am acutely aware of the fact that had I not taken this journey and made a commitment to working on my self-awareness I would have quite easily become my parents, and if I am really honest with you I can look back and see this was happening. Relationships are difficult for me, this is a fact, but knowing this has been the key to me managing my anxieties and not allowing old experiences and insecurities to raise their head in my current relationships, particularly with my children. I feel people can often forget that parenting is largely about building effective relationships and this is by no means easy, it doesn’t just happen; relationships are hard work, especially with people who are continuously changing and growing. As my children have grown and started to become their own people I have had to look at myself and grow with them. Watching them making positive choices, fully experiencing relationships and fulfilling their potential amazes me as I realise that at their age I had no idea who I was or what I wanted, I had so many insecurities and relationships were awkward and hard work to say the least, this re-iterates on a daily basis what a gift awareness is.

In a world that is ever changing and a society where there are so many pressures knowing yourself is the key to making the right choices and decisions for you and being the person, parent, friend, partner, professional…that you truly want to be.

Self-awareness gives us ultimate human freedom. Steven Covey

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