September SEL Focus: Self-Awareness

By Erin Peace, LCSW, RPT: ACE Academy School Counselor

September 2, 2022

September SEL Spotlight: Self-Awareness

This year, I'm highlighting a different SEL core competency each month, and in September we're highlighting Self-Awareness. This core competency serves as a foundation for all other core competencies: self-awareness is the ability to identify your emotions, and recognize your strengths and weaknesses. Self-awareness also plays into self-esteem: Self-esteem = Self-awareness + Self-acceptance.

Giftedness and Self-Awareness

Due to the nature of the gifted brain and related overexcitabilities, gifted individuals benefit from continual education and reinforcement of self-awareness skills. Individuals who practice self-awareness skills experience more control over their behavior by being thoughtful about the consequences of their actions; self-awareness also helps students focus their attention, thereby increasing productivity. This skill can also can decrease physical pain and increase compassion for ourselves and others.

Modeling Self-Awareness and Mindfulness

A way to strengthen your self-awareness and model this skill to your student is to practice mindfulness: the non-judgmental awareness of what's happening in the present moment (both internally and externally). Here is a link to a short video on the science of mindfulness:

By incorporating mindful breathing (such as 4-count breathing), you can model to your student how to control your breath, which then regulates your nervous system. After modeling a breathing technique, try observing what thoughts pop into your mind without judgement, like watching clouds pass across the sky. The thoughts and emotions are temporary, and we can acknowledge their presence without being controlled by them.

To remember these steps, you can use the acronym RAINS:

R- Recognize your feeling

A- Accept what is here

I- Investigate where you feel it in your body

N- Neutral (This means not assigning "good" or "bad" judgement to an emotion or thought that arises. There are no good or bad emotions, just comfortable and uncomfortable ones).

S- Support Yourself (This could look like self-compassionate self-talk, or participating in an activity that is soothing).

Mindfulness can be practiced anywhere, at any time; try setting aside a time with your child to practice this building block to self-awareness.