• The Bildungsroman and Self-Discovery


Teaching Children to Appreciate the Journey of Discovering Themselves

In ancient times, there were different genres to the ones we clearly know today. Bildungsroman was one of them. In this type of story, a person went on to discover themselves in a much deeper sense. It was a teaching parable. It was a way of following someone through a journey to discover themselves. Charles Dickins’ David Copperfield is an example of this type of story.


Of all the genres of stories that have held and carried through into our current age, can anything be more important than this? Each person’s responsibility is the journey to themselves, to discover what’s hidden at deeper and deeper levels. Levels that only they can find. Children are no different. They need to learn that they are a “work in progress”. The earlier children, kids, teenagers learn this, the better they will come to understand themselves.

The Only Type of Discovery Worth Investing Into


Self-discovery is the only type of discover worth exploring. Most people go a lifetime without learning about themselves, not in the way that I’m speaking about here. Not as deeply as this.

I’m writing here about a way of discovery that spirals, digs and uncovers at deeper and deeper layers of habit, every day.

Imagine if children were taught to learn about themselves from a very young age. What would that mean for their future happiness? What would happen to their deepest habits when they were pulled into the light of discover?

Most people want to be happier, to play a bigger part in the world and be more fulfilled and inspired in everything that they’re doing. But where does it all start? It begins with personal discovery.

Kind-Curiosity is the Key


A young girl dreams of becoming an Olympic sprinter. She dreams about breaking new records, changing the limits that people believe possible. But she can barely run three steps without wincing and breaking into a jaunty limp. Every time she sprints her heart is broken, because she sees her dream and how far she is from it.

But she’s missing something.
She’s forgotten to be curious about herself.
She’s forgotten to be kind to herself in these moments of curiosity.

Let’s say she’s reminded to be kindly curious about herself. After a week of watching and observing herself in these moments where she’s just about to run, she discovers that there’s actually been a pain in her left foot for years now. She takes off her shoe and her sock and looks at her foot.

She remembers that when she was 4 years old, she broke a glass. In trying to run away, she stepped on a few shards. She cried that day. Her father helped her take out each piece of glass. It looked like everything was gone. By looking at her feet now, it looks like everything has healed. Except something is strange about her foot. There is a hard spot just under the ball of her foot.

She visits her doctor. He sends her for x-rays. The x-rays reveal that there’s something in her foot. A shard of glass. Something so small that her father missed it all those years ago, when he plucked the broken glass from her foot.

A quick operation later, the piece of glass is removed. After two weeks of healing, she starts running again…and now she can. Now she’s ready to fulfill her dream.

Kind Curiosity, when directed towards ourselves, can help us to discover more than we would ever know about if we were hard and critical of everything that we did.

The First Step to Self-Discovery


Every one of us would love to learn about ourselves. We’d love to see our blindspots and learn how we can improve our results and avoid all sorts of unnecessary pain and suffering. However, how many of us can honestly say that when we discover a flaw within ourselves that we respond with kindness?

We are our worst critics.

Children are no different. I’ve seen kids hitting their heads when they’ve made a mistake. I’ve watched them call themselves “stupid” and “idiot” and all sorts of words that I too have called myself in moments of disappointment.

The only way we’ll ever take the journey of self-discovery is if we look at ourselves as inspiring works in progress. And every time we discover something about ourselves, we need to remember compassion and self-love. If we don’t, our habits will stay hidden from us. Does that mean that they go away? No way! They just learn that we don’t want to see them. And they hide.

Questions to Inspire Self-Discovery


I love questions. Mostly though, I love asking them…and waiting for the answer to form. Most great questions take a lifetime to unfold answers. Luckily, children have a lifetime ahead of them.

No matter what, remember that these questions don’t demand instant answers. Most won’t create overnight answers either. When your children are mulling them over…just take a step back and remember that the answers will come with time. And when they arrive, each piece of insight will be a major breakthrough for your child. Breakthroughs are the wonders of each moment. Better questions will help your children find moments like these.

Here are a few questions you can use to get them started:

  • What did you learn about yourself today?
  • What is the one thing you saw yourself doing today, that you’ve caught yourself doing before?
  • How many times today did you watch yourself doing something?
  • How many times did you catch yourself slipping away into a daydream?
  • What are some of your strongest habits?
  • When do these habits kick in the most?
  • What do you catch yourself doing in times when you’re really scared or stressed out?
  • What do you do when you’re angry?

Let your curiosity be your guide. The questions will come to you. And when they do, ask them. The answers will eventually come. To you and to your children.

Until next time…
Be Yourself,
Be Brilliant!


© The Brilliance Quotient 2018

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