Self-awareness is knowing yourself. It’s about knowing your emotions, strengths and challenges, and how your emotions affect your behavior and decisions. Self-awareness is key to managing actions and setting goals for the future, and it is a skill that will help your teen thrive. In high school, your teen may gain a better understanding of their strengths and challenges and start making choices based on their abilities. For example, they may join clubs, groups or teams based on that knowledge, and they may be better able to separate what they want for themselves from what their friends want them to do. They may also begin to set longer-term goals like getting into college or getting a job.
The high school years are a time of great personal development as teens are further developing their identities, preparing for adulthood and gaining more independence. Encouraging your teen’s social and emotional development is still important at this age, as these skills can be developed throughout life. While your teen is becoming more independent, it is important to remember that you are still needed. Reminding your teen that you care can go a long way in keeping them on track and planning for the future.
Expect your teen’s self-awareness to develop further during the high school years. They may be able to accurately identify complex emotions like pride, anticipation, stress, anxiety, and grief.
Your high-schooler may also develop a stronger sense of what causes and impacts their feelings. For example, they may know that public speaking makes them feel anxious or that scoring well on a test gives them a sense of pride and accomplishment.
Keep in mind that during their teenage years your child may actually become too self-aware. Tom Hoerr, head of New City School in St. Louis, points out that many teens compare themselves to their peers and feel like they don’t measure up, which can lead to jealousy or anxiety. Teens are also exploring their identities: who they believe they are and who they want to become. For example, do they see themselves as a future college student, military service member or worker?
Your high-schooler is also better able to identify their strengths and challenges by this age, and they may use that insight to help them makes plans for life after high school.
Keep in mind that all adolescents have different social and emotional tendencies and behaviors and develop at different rates. 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 adolescent’s development, please contact your healthcare provider or his teacher or school counselor.
Learn more about how to support your child with our ninth-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; Jennifer Miller, Author, Confident Parents, Confident Kids; and Thomas Hoerr, Emeritus Head of School, New City School.