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Is it normal for a 6-year-old to be so concerned about others’ feelings?
Q: My 6-year-old is overly concerned with other people’s feelings. If her dad asks her to go somewhere with him, she looks at me and asks if I’ll be lonely at home by myself. Is it normal for a child this age to be so worried about others and their feelings?
A: By “normal” I think you mean age-appropriate, for, to be sure, there is nothing abnormal about your daughter’s behaviour in terms of social or emotional development. If anything, she is slightly advanced in this area, and there is no reason to worry because she is a bit precocious. In fact, her concern for others is something we could well hope that all children your daughter’s age might show. Unfortunately, empathy only begins to develop in most 6-year-olds, who tend to be egocentric in their dealings with others. That means they will have difficulty seeing beyond their own feelings and wishes in order to take those of others into consideration. I suspect that, without realizing it, you and her dad have subtly reinforced this behaviour in your daughter, and your efforts have paid off. I congratulate you for what you have done. Concern for others will help her relate well with her friends. If they are still at the egocentric stage of development, always wanting things to go their way, her concern for their interests and feelings cannot help but make her a desirable playmate. And, believe me, all her teachers will admire and reward her for this pattern of behaviour.