My teen coaching programs always begin with developing and strengthening self-awareness. It is the foundation from which my clients and I address areas of concern, tackle challenges, and determine what actions will achieve desired goals.
Self-awareness includes an understanding of:
- Thoughts and emotions
- Strengths and weakness
- Values and core belief
- Natural gifts and talents
During adolescence, teens are discovering these aspects of themselves and many can’t see beyond the basics. If you ask a teen, “Who are you?” her response is likely to be something like, “I am nice, smart, athletic, funny, etc.” Most teens need to engage in thoughtful conversations, or coaching, in order to develop a deeper understanding of self and a vocabulary to talk about who they are and what matters to them.
Steps to Strengthening Self-Awareness
When building self-awareness with my clients, I often start with a simple checklist called My Lists. This helps teens develop a language of self-awareness. In this process, girls check their top five qualities in each category and describe how each quality shines.
Most teens enjoy “personality tests,” so online assessments are another great way to build self-awareness. Several that I use are the Via Strengths Finder, Clifton Strengths Finder, and Enneagram. These assessments provide girls a concrete explanation of their personal qualities that we can then use as a springboard into enlightening and revealing conversations.
The most meaningful way to develop an understanding of self, as well as a more extensive and mature vocabulary for talking about self, is through personal reflection. The answers to these questions will reveal a teen’s natural talents, values, and strengths. And, most teens enjoy talking about the best parts of themselves 🙂
- What are you good at? What personal quality is involved in that activity?
- What do you enjoy doing? What personal quality is involved in that activity?
- What do you find yourself focusing on most often? What is important about that? How do you feel when you think that thought?
- What is really important to you and why?
- What do you consider your top three accomplishments? What does each accomplishment say about you? What personal quality led to your success?
- What challenges have you overcome? What wisdom or skill developed as a result of getting through that challenge?
The Gifts of Self-Awareness
It is incredible to watch what happens when teens develop self-awareness. They stand taller and are more proud. Motivation and self-esteem get a natural boost. Self-awareness also leads to other-awareness and promotes empathy and compassion. Teens with a high self-awareness typically have healthier relationships and are more effective communicators. For older teens, self-awareness helps them determine the right college, major, internship, and career. They are also more comfortable writing personal essays and conducting interviews. And, when teens learn how to use their self-awareness to prioritize, work efficiently, make decisions, and achieve goals, they are ultimately happier and more fulfilled.