10 Ways to Help Kids Know Themselves {+ Know Yourself Giveaway!}

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I recently saw a fantastic quote on a decorative towel at a local shop: Be with someone you love. I posted it on Instagram along with the caption,” A wise young woman keeps telling me that to love your neighbor as yourself, you first have to love yourself.”

So many of us are guilty of having an incredibly rude internal dialogue. We say things to ourselves that we would never say to anyone else. We aren’t loving ourselves very well, and that chips away at our self-esteem.

Our kids do that, too. As parents, we need to help them love themselves, flaws and all. Part of learning to love yourself is learning to know yourself.

How do you teach kids to know themselves? {Don’t miss the giveaway at the end!}

Know Yourself Anatomy for Kids

1. Provide time for introspection.

Build some quiet time into each day. As a society, we are so busy. There’s nothing wrong with some downtime each day. Some families have an afternoon rest time where everyone can nap or engage in other quiet activities such as coloring, reading, or building with LEGOs.

human anatomy for kids

2. Turn off the screens.

When I was a kid, there were {gasp} only three major TV stations. If we were really careful and adjusted the antenna just right, we might be able to pick up the two grainy public access channels.

It gets even crazier. At midnight or so, all the TV stations went off the air for the night. Yep, a fluttering American flag filled the screen while the national anthem crackled through the speakers. Then, the station signed off leaving viewers with nothing but 6-8 hours of black and white static just like in Poltergeist.

There were no cell phones, no Internet, and no 24-hour onslaught of information. Today, kids are constantly bombarded with noise – social media, texts, TV, Netflix, YouTube. Two-year-olds know how to operate tablets better than their grandparents.

I don’t put a lot of restrictions on screen time, but I have found that a nighttime cutoff works wonders for forcing kids to find other interests with which to fill their time. As a bonus, it also seems to improve attitudes and self-esteem.

3. Encourage physical activity.

Physical activity has so many benefits, not the least of which is self-discovery. Sports provide a fantastic opportunity for kids (and adults) to learn who they are and what they’re made of – physically, emotionally, and mentally. When I was training for my first half-marathon, I learned that I could run 13.1 miles if I just kept running – just kept putting one foot in front of the other.

When Megan was doing gymnastics, she discovered that she is stronger – mentally and physically – than she knew. It’s a powerful thing to push yourself beyond what you’re sure you can do and discover that you’re capable of more than you imagined.

Those are life lessons, y’all.

Know Yourself Anatomy Kits for Kids

4. Encourage kids to explore their interests.

I’ve encouraged my kids to explore their interests as much as doing so is financially feasible with limits on how many we have going on at a time. Because introverted homebody, y’all.

Photography class? Absolutely! Music classes? For sure. Blacksmithing? Why not? Plays, gymnastics, art classes? You betcha.

I’ve said many times that you never know which activities may become careers or life-long hobbies.

5. Let them make their own choices – and deal with the consequences.

My philosophy is that kids need practice making their own decisions – even when I don’t think they’re the right ones. Within reason, of course. I’m not going to let them do anything crazy dangerous. Otherwise, I offer guidance and let them make their own decisions and deal with the consequences, good or bad.

This allows them to develop their own judgment and discernment in a relatively safe environment. I draw the line at dangerous, life-altering decisions, but giving them some latitude while they’re still living at home provides a bit of a safety net while kids practice decision-making and, hopefully, learn to make good choices.

6. Don’t hover.

I probably teeter somewhere in the middle of helicopter and free-range parenting, maybe listing to the helicopter side if I’m honest, but I try to temper that. Giving kids the time and space to figure things out on their own builds self-esteem and teaches them that they are strong, capable, and resourceful.

I remember a time when my boy, who was around 8 or so, came into the house looking for a bandage for a newly acquired wound.

“What did you do,” I asked.

His reply? “Something stupid.”

It cracked me up. His tone was so matter-of-fact.

I could have hovered over him while he was playing outside and nixed his idea before he got hurt. Instead, he picked himself up, dusted himself off, and walked away with a new understanding of wagons, hills, and gravity. (I think that was the lesson that went with that particular incident. There are two similar ones that get mixed up in my memory.)

anatomy activities for kids

7. Answer the awkward questions.

Part of kids learning about themselves involves answering “those” questions. I have always try to respond with an honest, age-appropriate answer to any questions my kids ask. My younger sister has often told me that the best advice I ever gave her about those awkward questions is to find out what the child is really asking. Sometimes they’re not asking what you think they are.

Kids need to know that they can ask their parents those embarrassing questions and get a straight answer. Do you want them asking you and getting the facts or asking their friends?

8. Build their spiritual foundation.

As a Christian family, it’s important to me that my kids know who they are in Christ since our worldview – whether it’s Christian, atheist, agnostic, or something else – affects how we perceive ourselves and the world around us.

9. Encourage them to serve others.

It seems that we often learn the most about ourselves when we’re helping others – and it doesn’t necessarily need to be human others. My youngest used to love walking the dogs at our local animal shelter. But, it’s a good idea to look for ways to serve human others, too, whether it’s through volunteer opportunities or random acts of kindness.

10. Teach self-literacy.

Help your kids understand how their bodies work. Human anatomy is always a high-interest topic in our homeschool no matter the ages of my kids each time we’ve studied it.

The folks at Know Yourself are committed to empowering kids with self-literacy, a grounding knowledge of themselves (anatomy, physiology, and psychology), to increase their self-confidence, and make them better at school, sports, friendships – everything!

The Oakland-based company teaches anatomy for kids through the Know Yourself Adventure Series, a monthly journey of self-discovery using:

  • The tween-friendly Time Skaters comic book series
  • Activity guide focusing on a particular aspect of human anatomy and a geographic tie-in
  • Supplies for the activities

Each of the activity guides features a variety of different activities, along with some recipes, to lead kids on a journey of self-discovery. For example, in the 5 Senses Adventure kit, kids will learn about Aristotle and ancient Greece, while doing activities exploring the sense of hearing, checking out some optical illusions, and making a traditional Greek meal.

I’d say the kits are geared toward kids in the 8-12 age range, but Megan and I both found them really cool. As a matter of fact, when we got the package to take a look at the kits, I wrote the folks at Know Yourself and told them that it isn’t often that something really exceeds my expectations, but I opened the box and said, “Wow! This is really cool!”

The images in this post give you an idea of what you can expect from the Adventure Series kits. The first kit includes a set of invisible ink pens with a built-in black light for reading them. How cool is that? And I may or may not have considered keeping the backpack from the second kit for myself.

Because I know some of you are wondering, the Know Yourself Adventure Series doesn’t espouse a particular belief system, but in the explanation of self-literacy on their blog, the Know Yourself founders do include the spiritual – your belief system how you relate to your Creator – as part of what it means to know yourself.

Self-Literacy for Kids


The folks at Know Yourself are giving away a 3-month subscription to the Adventure Series. That would make a great Christmas gift for a kid in your life! Follow the directions on the RaffleCopter widget below to enter.

You can follow the folks at Know Yourself on their blog or on social media via:

Rules: This giveaway is open to United States residents, ages 18 years and older only. Giveaway ends at 11:59 PM (ET) on Monday, December 12. The winner will be selected at random using Random.org via RaffleCopter.

The winner will be notified via email and given 72 hours to respond. You must enter a valid email address to win. In the event that the winner cannot be contacted by email or does not respond within 72 hours, the prize will be forfeited and an alternate winner selected.

This post is linked to Top Ten Tuesday and the Hip Homeschool Hop.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.

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  1. This is a great list. I have to work on #5 and #6, although I have been getting better at being less of a helicopter parent. It kind of helps that I have so many kids because I culdn’t hover over all of them at once even if I wanted to. 😛 Thanks for the giveaway!

  2. Lots of good points. I love his reply about “Something stupid.” At least he knew well enough to recognize after the fact that it wasn’t very bright! I hope my kids have that level of self-awareness at that age. And the Know Yourself kits do look legitimately cool.

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