SAFER Training Programme (English)

Life Skills Theoretical Background – Growing Self-Awareness (ii)

During middle childhood and early adolescence (i.e. 6 to 14 years of age), important developmental advances (biologically, cognitively and socially) support children’s capacity to establish a sense of identity. Brain development and cognitive advances heighten children’s ability to reflect on themselves, their learning, successes or failures and plan consciously. Almost all theories of development point to age six as the time when children begin to actually “reason” and develop key thinking or conceptual skills. Also, new social relationships help children learn about the world outside the family, compare themselves against others and grow their ability to take the perspective of others. The middle childhood and early-adolescent years are viewed by developmental psychologists as a time of change in the way children view themselves, as they consider what possibilities are available to them and try to come to a deeper understanding of themselves and others around them. Especially early-adolescent development (ages 10-14) is characterized by an increasing capacity for abstract thinking, desire for autonomy, orientation toward peers and self-consciousness. It is a time when concern over sexual relationships and identity issues are prominent.

Self-awareness is one of the key psychological challenges that children face during middle childhood and early adolescence. Effective education including practices that strengthen children’s social–emotional competencies would be beneficial in supporting their psychological well-being.