Self-awareness is the ability to know your feelings and how they affect your behavior. It is a skill that your child can begin developing at this early age, but it is something that continues to develop into adulthood.
During the pre-kindergarten years, children are learning very quickly. While children at this age may have short attention spans, they often learn best by being read to, playing pretend and observing others, especially you. By setting a strong example, you can show your child how to be socially and emotionally intelligent.
Your child should be able to use words like sad or happy to talk about their feelings. Your child should also start to explain why your child feels sad or happy in specific cases. For example, your child may be able to tell you that going to preschool or visiting friends and family makes their feel happy.
At the ages of 3 and 4, your child is likely to increase the words she uses to describe her feelings. She also has likes and dislikes, and her own unique personality. Your child is learning more about herself, and part of building that self-awareness is learning her strengths and weaknesses as well.
While children at this age may have short attention spans, they often learn best by being read to, playing pretend and observing others, especially you.
Keep in mind that every child develops at his own pace. Maurice Elias, director of the Social-Emotional Learning Lab at Rutgers University, recommends being watchful without overly worrying, as preschoolers are extremely different in their rate of development and your child may even excel in one area and lag in another. The concepts highlighted in this section are based on the five sets of competencies developed by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). If you have concerns about your child’s development, please contact your healthcare provider, his teacher or school counselor, or visit our additional resources page.