To become more self-aware, you may think that taking a good look in the mirror would be helpful, or perhaps asking for insights from family and friends might offer insight. If you’re a parent, you may find the answers you’re looking for in your children.
Every parent has experienced that delightful—or alarming—moment when their child reflects back to them their own behavior or quirks. Children seem to have a magical ability to act as mirrors. They can reflect their parents’ deepest insecurities, habits, notions, and personality traits.
Seeing yourself in your children can be amusing, endearing, infuriating, or embarrassing. Most of all, it can be informative.
One way to improve the harmony in your home along with your level of self-awareness is to recognize this phenomenon that your children will mirror back to you the very characteristics you might need to see in yourself. When they do, you may find you have more compassion and appreciation for them and gain insight into yourself.
It’s easy to notice the positive ways that your children are just like you. Perhaps your daughter has your uncanny wit, or your son has your innate ability to make everyone feel welcome. The negative traits your children have inherited from you, however, can be the most helpful to witness.
The next time you’re dealing with an outburst from your child, try to calmly observe and understand what’s causing the distress. Ask yourself if what’s bothering your child bothers you sometimes, or if the way that your child is struggling seems familiar to you as well. You may be surprised at the level of understanding you can experience when pausing to reflect on this, and as you guide your child you can also aim to improve yourself.
As your children grow, they’ll develop habits—good ones and bad ones. When you notice especially the bad ones, take a look at yourself and see if you harbor that habit as well. Perhaps they’re procrastinating on their homework, they don’t clean up after themselves, or their manners could use some polishing. You may even find it helpful to share with your child that you, too, struggle with this habit and how you’re trying to improve.
When your children are in emotional distress, they are in need of support and understanding, as well as guidance to work their way through and regain control. Looking within yourself when your child is emotional in one way or another can help to foster empathy as well as provide insight into your own emotional issues.
As your children make their way in the world, they’ll surely make mistakes, act out, and behave in all sorts of ways that you deem unacceptable. Here, too, you may see glimpses of yourself. Perhaps some ways that your children mirror you might not be pleasant, but being able to recognize the negative as well as the positive will lead to more self-awareness for you as a parent and a better understanding about how to guide your children.