Letting Kids Learn Through Reflection
Reflecting on our own actions and behaviours is a great — albeit taxing, but great, nonetheless — way to grow up as an individual, and self-reflection is an essential tool that kids and adults can learn from. By self-reflecting, you can learn which parts of yourself helped in meeting your goals and which hindered you from doing so. Not only does it help in goal-setting, but it also allows you to conscientiously and consistently improve on the self that you are. I myself have achieved some self-awareness as an adult because I had some wonderful teachers in the past who encouraged reflection and growth whenever we made mistakes.
We view the experiences we undergo as isolated, individual events; instead, we should view these as opportunities for learning. With regular and logical evaluations of ourselves, we’re able to see patterns in ourselves or our children, which therefore allows us to take better action. If you notice that your child is unable to have a handle on their emotions in stressful situations, then you can teach them ways to manage their stress. If they are quick to get emotional without logic, then they can be taught to think things slowly and not let emotions rule their actions. If you notice that they often praise people or are grateful after an activity well done, then you can encourage them to continue doing so by appreciating the behaviour.
If you’re at a loss as to how to instil the habit of self-reflection in your child, know that there are a few ways you can go about doing so:
Reflection can be as easy as inviting children to think about their thinking. When reflection becomes the topic of discussion, children start to realise the importance of it. From discussing their feelings throughout the day to their problem-solving processes, there are multiple conversations that can take place for children to reveal their intentions, detail their strategies and describe the cognitive maps of the day. Kids learn to understand their mental maps, as well as the mental maps of their friends or parents, and this gives rise to empathy, flexibility, and persistence.
Spur the habit of journaling in your child, in whichever medium they prefer. Let them write should the prefer so, or let them draw and colour if that’s how they can best express themselves. Periodically, ask them to reread their journals. Allow them to compare their behaviour in the past to their behaviour now, and draw inferences about what they’ve learnt and how they’ve grown. Ask them how they can apply what they’ve learnt to current situations, and how they can consciously modify their behaviours.
With reflective role models, children are more driven to take a reflective stance in considering their actions. Parents, teachers, guardians — they are all figures in a child’s life that can reflect on their own practices and pass on the virtue to younger ones. Perhaps, take some time to talk and reflect with your child on the way home in the car. Or, sit down and journal with them. You don’t have to interact or talk. Sitting together in comfortable silence on reflecting on yourself is more than enough.
Kids who are able to identify, understand, express and manage their feelings experience better mental health and wellbeing in the future. They grow up to be self-aware adults who are conscious of their actions and its consequences; the empathy and care for those around them and the world doesn’t go unnoticed, either. To grow up to be attentive to our surroundings and to shun away from ignorance is a quality many strive to have, and it can start from something simple as self-reflection. To understand those around us, we have to first try to understand ourselves.