Self-awareness is the knowledge of oneself as a separate person from others. We aren’t born knowing this. This starts to develop around 12 months (Berger, 2018). We know this from a classic, simple test called the Rouge test.
In the Rouge test an adult puts a red dot on the infant’s nose and places the infant in front of a mirror. If the infant touches his own nose to wipe off the red mark, it shows that he knows it’s him in the mirror; there’s a sense of self. If he doesn’t touch his nose, he doesn’t know it’s him. He might say “hi” to this other infant that he sees. While some infants as young as 12 months may notice the red dot, most don’t have a reaction until 15 to 24 months. Research has shown that once children reach this level of self-awareness, new emotions like embarrassment, envy, and empathy emerge (Berger, 2018; Parenting Counts, 2020). Here is a similar test but the mark is on their forehead.
Berger, K. S. (2018). The developing person: Through Childhood and adolescence (11th
ed.). New York, NY: Worth.
Parenting Counts (2020). Baby begins to develop self-awareness. Retrieved from http://www.parentingcounts.org/information/timeline/baby-begins-to-develop-self-awareness-15-24-months/