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Self-Reflection: Valuable for Both Adults and Children
October 18, 2023
Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.
“When people find out I’m an executive coach,” writes Jennifer Porter, in Harvard Business Review, “they often ask who my toughest clients are. Inexperienced leaders? Senior leaders who think they know everything? Leaders who bully and belittle others? Leaders who shirk responsibility?

The answer is none of the above. The hardest leaders to coach are those who won’t reflect — particularly leaders who won’t reflect on themselves.

At its simplest, reflection is about careful thought. But the kind of reflection that is really valuable to leaders is more nuanced than that. The most useful reflection involves the conscious consideration and analysis of beliefs and actions for the purpose of learning. Reflection gives the brain an opportunity to pause amidst the chaos, untangle and sort through observations and experiences, consider multiple possible interpretations, and create meaning. This meaning becomes learning, which can then inform future mindsets and actions. For leaders, this ‘meaning making’ is crucial to their ongoing growth and development.”

In the Out of the Box TrainingNurturing Creativity in Children, Caitlin (Cat) Lynch offers empowering ideas to help early educators deeply nurture children’s creativity. She describes how her work at the Columbus Museum of Art nurtures creativity by supporting children’s self-reflection as they explore art experiences. She explains, “We believe children are strong, independent individuals capable of amazingly creative and complex thinking.”

She also describes the importance of self-reflection by the adults who work with the children. “Finally, and perhaps most influential, is the thoughtful documentation and reflection of our own programs. Like children, we learn best by doing, but as Dewey (1938) points out, ‘We do not learn from experience... we learn from reflecting on experience.’ Setting aside time to share and reflect, even if only briefly, allows us to learn not just from our colleagues internally, but also through the many learners of all ages for whom and with whom we are so privileged to work.”


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Comments (2)

Displaying All 2 Comments
Nancy Rosenow · October 18, 2023
Lincoln, NE, United States

Eve, what a wonderful point you’ve raised about helping parents become more self-reflective. I will be sure the Exchange team is aware of your valuable offer. Thank you.

Eve Sullivan · October 18, 2023
Parents Forum
Cambridge, MA, United States

Hello. You kindly published my contribution ‘Nature, Nurture, Narration’ nearly a year ago, November 2022.
I write now with comments on your article on Self-Reflection (10-18-23) and very much hope that you will chose to make them the lead in an upcoming issue. Knowing the broad reach of your publication, it will give a big boost to Parents Forum and to our partner, The Confess Project of America!
Thank you for considering! Eve

255 words

The article “Self-Reflection: Valuable for Both Adults and Children” does not mention parents, yet parents are the adults closest to children, day in and day out. My experience as a parent (quite uneven, truth to tell!) and now as a parenting educator (considerably smoother, thankfully) has taught me that self-reflection should be part of my daily self-care, as basic as flossing and brushing my teeth and washing my face.

Only when parents are trained in self-reflection, however, can they …can we… learn to do it regularly and well. In Parents Forum, our thirty-plus years of experience tells us that asking the nine open-ended questions we pose to participants in our workshops helps them not only to develop new perspectives on family interactions, but to change both their speech and behavior as parents.

None of us had a perfect childhood and no one is a perfect parent: those two facts are given. However, when we consider the experiences we had during childhood, adolescence and young adulthood – how we were raised, taught and coached, what helped us, what hurt us – we can improve our own parenting.

Parents Forum partners with agencies invested in community wellbeing to reach parents and caregivers where they are. Our partner, The Confess Project of America, is offering free Parents Forum workshops online (next dates are Oct. 31, Nov.14 and 28 and Dec.12, at 5pm Eastern Time) to parents, caregivers and others. Sign up here:

Also, we welcome Exchange Every Day readers to browse our newsletter archive: Voices of Parents Forum:

Eve Sullivan
[email protected]
Cambridge, Mass. USA

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