Teaching Self-Awareness to Preschoolers

Instructor: Abigail Cook
Preschool students are an energetic group of kids who often lack the self-awareness skills they need to play nice and follow directions. Teachers can help them develop these skills through a variety of fun and engaging activities.


Preschool is a fun and challenging time for young kids. Three and four year olds are learning how to play, communicate, and follow rules. They may also be experts at fighting, getting into trouble, and pushing each other's buttons. Part of the fun (and difficulty) of teaching this age group has a lot to do with their development in social skills and self-awareness.

Self-awareness is understanding your own feelings and actions and how they affect yourself and other people. Private self-awareness is when a child understands something about themselves that other people don't know. Public self-awareness is when a child understands how other people view them.

Self-awareness affects all areas in a child's life, including communication, learning, and social interactions. The following are signs that a child lacks self-awareness:

  • does not recognize mistakes in schoolwork or make edits
  • can't put their feelings into words
  • does not recognize that other people may feel differently than they do
  • does not see how their behavior impacts other children

It is easy to see that these symptoms could keep children with self-awareness problems from making friends and doing well in school. It is important that teachers learn to recognize when a lack of self-awareness is causing problems for a student. They should then follow up with appropriate activities for teaching and practicing self-awareness skills.

Teaching Self-Awareness

The following sections include suggestions for teaching preschoolers basic self-awareness skills. These activities may need to be adapted based on the level of cooperation and understanding of your students. The purposes of these activities are:

  • to help students see how everyone has similarities and differences
  • to teach students that when they do good things they feel good about themselves
  • to demonstrate appropriate ways to control their own behavior and reactions
  • to model appropriate responses to difficult situations

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