Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Self-centered Children

No parent has to be reminded that young children are self-centered. Very self-centered! Toddlers and preschoolers (and many early elementary-age children) cannot yet understand how others feel. In reality, how other people feel is not important to them. The fact that they think only of themselves is a developmental behavior and it’s completely normal and appropriate.

Young children are still in the process of learning about self-concept and grasping what it means to be an individual “self” that differentiates them from the rest of the people in the world around them. They want everything they see, they have a difficult time sharing without being told to share, and they have a hard time controlling their emotions when things don’t go their way.

Until about the age of 6 or 7, most children continue to be self-centered. However, they can learn about other people’s feelings with practice. Parents can help by talking about feelings – whether good or bad. “When you hit your brother, it hurts him and makes him feel sad. Do not hit your brother.” Or “I like the way you picked up your toys. That makes me happy.”

Talk about feelings, but don’t punish them for their feelings. Be consistent in how you react to their feelings and be very consistent in how you discipline them for their behavior.

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