Adult Influence in the Development of Self-awareness in Children Essay
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An individual who has an awareness of who he/she is as a person are said to be happier than those who don’t. Having a strong sense of self enables us to make decisions about how we want to live our lives and pursue our dreams and ambitions. But how does one achieve self-awareness? Self-awareness is a life-long process, it is essentially being able to discover our individuality and come to terms with who we really are. The development of self-awareness is not a one-man show; rather our parents, teachers, peers and the media, constantly influence us.
It is my belief that parents and teachers more than any other factor has the greatest influence in the development of our awareness. Thus, parents and teachers help and hinder the development of a child’s self-awareness. Parents and teachers provide the guidance and nurturing that children need to develop their sense of self. On the other hand they can also hinder the child’s quest for awareness if they insist that their child become what they could not be and to expect them to adopt their own worldviews.
An equal amount of guidance and rootedness will prove to be the best formula for a child to realize who they are as persons. Guiding children in their lives and nurturing their well-being can help children develop their sense of self. When parents and teachers guide children in the decisions they make in their lives it teaches children that they are persons of worth who can make their own decisions. Franeck said that if his parents did not push him to look for a job and live on his own, he might sill be living with his parents and would have become a failure.
This shows us that young adults need to be prodded and to be challenged to take that step to live their own lives. Without this gentle prodding they might just stay in the dug-out indefinitely like the so called Importance of adults to a child’s growth to awareness Page#2 “boomerang kids” who are well-educated young adults and are living at home because they are broke and underemployed (Franeck, ). Teachers also guide children in their own way. They can help children realize who they want to be in the future.
Success and achievement contributes to the child’s perception of who he/she is. When teachers tell their students that they are good at what they do, it builds their self-esteem and leads to increased awareness. Malcom X in his autobiography said that his teacher Mr. Ostrowski made him think about his future and what society had to offer him, which led to his awareness of his station in life and the desire to do something about it (The first major, ). Why do parents and teachers’ guidance and nurturance matter?
Parents and teachers are the significant adults in every children’s lives thus, children see them as authority figures and what they say or do can leave lasting impressions in a child’s psyche and therefore affects the way he/she thinks of himself/herself. In contrast, when parents become too controlling and expect their children to espouse their own way of life and views without considering their child’s individuality they hinder the development of self-awareness. Likewise, when teachers become judgmental and do not treat his/her students the same way, then he/she hampers self-awareness.
Controlling parents are those who impose their own value systems to their children and expect them to behave accordingly. This hampers the development of self-awareness because children are not able to think for themselves, they are not allowed to explore and deal with their individuality. Children become a reflection or a puppet of their parents and they cannot be expected to become mentally healthy and fully functioning individuals. Caroline Hwang (1998) had battled with the anguish of Importance of adults to a child’s growth to awareness Page#3
pleasing her parents and pursuing her dreams because she knew that her parents had sacrificed a lot for her and she was undoubtedly indebted to them, she knew she owed them the fulfillment of her parent’s dreams for her. As an adult, she still has not been able to establish her own identity, is not sure of her future and has not had a real intimate relationship. In the same way, Emilyn Lat’s (1991) experience also portrays how parents can impede a child’s growth of awareness. Lat had parents who did not want her to be Americanized, they dictated what she should and should not do with her social life.
She grew alienated from her parents and looked to the government for help, but sadly was frustrated. Her parents threw her out because she refused to be turned into someone she did not want to be. Emilyn realized that society views children as an extension of their parents and not a separate person, thus her growing awareness of her self was painful and traumatic instead of having a healthy sense of awareness of who she is as a person. Teachers who are judgmental also encumber a child’s awareness of himself/herself.
Teachers who do not treat their students equally especially if based on prejudice, perpetuate the culture of racial discrimination. To be able to have a sense of self, children should be able to believe in their selves their talents and abilities, when teachers tell them otherwise, it destroys them. Children come to think that they are not good enough, not smart enough to dream and aspire for something in the future. Consequently, when they grow up they become failures because they come to believe what their teachers told them.
Then what are the best conditions for a child’s healthy sense of self-awareness? I believe that an equal amount of nurturing, guidance and cultural awareness would be the best provisions Importance of adults to a child’s growth to awareness Page#4 for self-awareness. Children who are guided by their parents, who are acknowledged and given the opportunity to explore their individuality, will grow to have a healthy sense of who they are. In the same way, when children know their roots and their cultural heritage they are more able to become who they want to be.
If Emilyn had the same parents like Caroline’s and she had the same tenacity and courage of Emilyn, then both of them would have become the best of what they can be. It is without a doubt that significant adults play a major role in our lives and in developing our sense of self. Parents who are supportive and nurturing communicate the idea that the child is valuable and worthy of such treatment. Parents should be able to raise children by giving them love, the kind of love that helps them develop a positive self-concept and a sense of their worth.
Teachers who are responsive to their students also tell children that they are persons who have the capability to achieve their dreams. It is important for each one of us to be able to develop a positive sense of self-awareness for it will help us better understand why we feel what we feel and behave as we behave. This understanding then gives us the opportunity and freedom to change and create the lives that we want. If we do not have the awareness or clarity of our being we will continue to get caught up in our internal dramas, irrational beliefs and negative perceptions of ourselves undermine the way we live our lives.
The great Tao Tzu has this to say about self-awareness “Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is enlightenment”.
Franek, Mark. Parent’s of twixters are at fault (publication details) Hwang, Caroline. The good daughter. Newsweek September 21, 1998 p16 Lat, Emelyn. Emancipated in American Families: Images and Issues (publication details) pp 244- 246 (year) Malcom X. The first major turning point in Emerging Voices: Readings in the American Experience (Publication details) pp 150-152 (year)