The Power of Self-Awareness

Essential Insights for Children & Their Adults

What does it mean to be “self-aware” and why does it matter? What’s the link between self-awareness and the United Nation’s Universal Children’s Day?

Do you know someone who is the opposite of self-aware? Mr. Unaware is like that. He thinks he’s funny, but people don’t laugh at his jokes. He is sure that he’s bad at listening, so he makes dumb jokes instead… but if only he knew! It turns out he could be someone so trustworthy and supportive, if only he were more self-aware. He’s got some problems and, his biggest problem: He doesn’t know.

From this example, it’s easy to see that self-awareness is important for our relationships. If we’re aware of our strengths and weaknesses, we can see ourselves honestly. We can see the same person others see. That creates a chance for us build trust. If we can see our strengths, we can use them. And if we can be realistic about our weaknesses, we can improve.

Check out this fun video about Growing Self-Awareness, and why it’s part of the #EQChildrensDay campaign

“He who knows others is wise. He who knows himself is enlightened.”

Lao Tzu

Self-Awareness and Children’s Rights

November 20 is the United Nation’s Universal Children’s Day — the date the Convention on the Rights of the Child was ratified. It’s the most-widely signed human rights legislation in history, and it recognizes that children are citizens with specific rights, such as the right to freedom from exploitation, to health, education, play… and appropriate information.

We think that includes information about themselves, because without self-awareness, young people will be stuck in the patterns of thinking and reacting that block them from their full potential.

And, we think that adults need self-awareness too, because without self-awareness, they won’t be able to form the trustworthy, supportive relationships needed to support children to be and do their best. As adults, we have a lot of work to do if we’re going to create a world where the rights of every child are honored and supported. While that work plays out on a geopolitical stage, it’s also work we can each do in our own small ways. We can each be more aware of our biases, our own reactions, and our own strengths that we can share with the young people in our lives. That’s what the #EQChildrensDay campaign is all about.

“Today, we reaffirm our obligation to do everything in our power to enable all children to survive and thrive, learn and grow, have their voices heard and reach their full potential.”

U.N. Secretary Ban Ki-moon

How to Be More Self-Aware

Imagine a group of children and adults walking home from an adventure. Suddenly it starts to rain so hard that water is bouncing off the ground. Some people in the group get mad. Others laugh. Someone cries. How would you react?

They’re all in the same situation, so why are there all these different reactions? And what about you, would you react the same way every time? Maybe you’d react differently depending on what happened earlier in the day?

Becoming more self-aware is actually quite easy, and fun. If we notice ourselves in situations like the rain storm, we can ask ourselves: What did I do? What was I thinking? How was I feeling? The trick is to be curious about ourselves; like being a detective looking for clues, we seek out the story of our own choices.


Key point: To notice, be curious. Not judgmental. Look with open eyes. Open heart.


Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness. James Thurber

Emotions and Self-Awareness

When it comes to developing emotional intelligence, being self-aware about feelings is an essential ingredient. We’re experiencing so many feelings, usually a bunch at one time. How do we sort them out and understand what’s going on inside?

One of the essential skills for emotional intelligence is to Enhance Emotional Literacy. That just means getting better at naming and understanding feelings.


Look at this picture — what would you call this feeling?


Maybe it’s something like happiness, joy, delight? That’s step one: Name it.


Now, for understanding: Why might someone have this feeling?

Maybe because they got a nice surprise…or maybe they were missing their friend who just came back from being away and is running in the door right now!

The challenging, and fun, part of Enhancing Emotional Literacy is expanding our vocabulary. Finding more, and more precise ways of talking about feelings. We’ve put together a free deck of 60 feeling cards, with instructions for several games adults & children can play to develop this skill, and volunteers from our network translated these into many languages.

If you’re reading this during #EQChildrensDay (from Nov 1-20), click here to go to the download page on and get your EmoCard game for free!

For more about self-awareness…

For #EQChildrensDay, the first week of November, members of The Emotional Intelligence Network are holding workshops all around the world on this topic. Check out this amazing map to see volunteers around the world.

You can sign up to get the workshop kit – it’s free – and it can be used with any group from 3 to 30 to 300 people. The topic?

What are the rights of children, and how do we feel looking at those rights? When we’re in a disagreement in our day-to-day lives, how are our thoughts, feelings, and actions interfering with the rights we value? What can we do about that?

More Tips

Check out this collection of tips for increasing self-awareness from members of our global network.


Be part of one of these fabulous projects for bringing more emotional intelligence to children & the world.


Get the details and logistics of the fun, beautiful kits you can share with any size group for EQChildrensDay

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