Self-awareness is the ability to accurately identify emotions and the behaviors they can trigger, as well as accurately identifying personal strengths and weaknesses. Put simply, it is about knowing what makes you tick. As your child enters this late elementary age, he is more likely to be able to grasp the range of emotions he experiences and what causes them. He may also have a more robust emotional vocabulary than he did in younger years, though he may still be learning to identify more complex emotions, like disappointment or rejection. Understanding your child’s development in the emotional realm can help you support his growth and help steer him through situations that he may find difficult. Children’s temperaments vary widely, and your child may be extremely adept at identifying his feelings or he may have difficulty with it. Both ends of the spectrum are considered normal, but if you have concerns over your child’s development it’s best to talk to his health care provider.
The late elementary years are a time of great personal and social growth. As children grow older, they become better at making decisions, solving problems, and working in groups. Early adolescence begins around the age of 11, and this brings along its own challenges. As children’s bodies begin to change their emotions can seem to change at a moment’s notice. Developing your child’s social and emotional skills can help him manage his emotions and behavior and make responsible choices. 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).
At about the age of nine and ten, your child may be able to accurately identify their emotions while also explaining why your child feels that way and what your child might like to change about that response. For example, they should be able to identify feeling rejected when friends decide not to include them in a game at recess, but be able to find another game to join in the future rather than dwelling on their disappointment.
Your fourth-grader should also be able to identify their strengths and weaknesses and understand how they affect the choices your child makes. For instance, if they are excelling in math, they may choose to join a math league at school. On the other hand, if they are struggling with math but is able to ask for extra help, that shows self-awareness. If they're struggling but puts off their homework, acts out, or tries to avoid the subject altogether, they are less self-aware.
Keep in mind every child develops at his own pace, both physically and emotionally. If you have concerns about your adolescent’s development, please contact your health care provider or your child’s teacher or school counselor.
Learn more about how to support your child with our fourth-grade self-awareness tips page.
Parent Toolkit resources were developed by NBC News Learn with the help of subject-matter experts, including Maurice Elias, Director, Rutgers Social-Emotional and Character Development Lab and Jennifer Miller, Author, Confident Parents, Confident Kids.