Sense of Self Activities for Infant & Toddlers

It's an amazing sight when a once-unaware baby gazes into a mirror and realizes “Wow ... that person staring back is me.” The sense of a personal identity begins blossoming in the early toddler years, or at around 15 to 24 months, according to the website Zero to Three. Help your infant or toddler become more self-aware through age-appropriate games and activities.

Mirror Play

You can help encourage your baby's sense of self-awareness by installing an unbreakable, full-length mirror inside the home. Bring the baby over to the mirror several times a day and allow him to interact with his reflection. Point out the baby in the mirror and watch your child's reaction as he notices the baby smile back at him. When your infant becomes a toddler, or between 15 and 24 months of age, place a small mark on his cheek or nose with lipstick or blush. Place your toddler in front of the mirror and watch his reaction. Eventually, the toddler will reach for the blush or lipstick mark and realize it's on his face.

Pictures and Videos

Young Boy Standing Next to a Mirror

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Enhance your baby's self-awareness by displaying pictures of himself throughout the home. Keep a photo album filled with pictures of the child, siblings and yourself and pull it out often. Point out all the people in the photo, including the child. High Reach Learning also recommends that parents videotape their older infant or toddler performing everyday activities. Watch the video and point out to the child that it's him on the screen playing with his favorite toy or eating dinner.


Help build your blossoming toddler's self-awareness and confidence through play. Zero to Three recommends that parents allow their toddler to take the lead during an activity. Ask your toddler about his preference and how he'd like the activity completed or game played. Challenge your child, as well. Play a game or plan an activity that's mentally or physically strenuous, but not so difficult the toddler feels overwhelmed. Go ahead and praise your toddler for completing the challenge -- the real reward is the sense of accomplishment and pride your tot will feel.

Actions and Consequences

Young Boy Standing Next to a Mirror

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Part of your toddler becoming self-aware is understanding his actions have consequences. Play a game that teaches your toddler that performing certain activities can have a positive consequence. For instance, help your toddler pick up his toys after a long day of play. Once you're finished, inform your toddler that the reward for completing the task is an extra scoop of ice cream or two bedtime stories instead of one. Conversely, negative actions also have consequences. If your toddler chooses to misbehave, let him know the consequence is a timeout.