You may feel embarrassed or ashamed if you see your three-year-old being rude to a playmate or grabbing his toy. But don't judge your child too harshly. Three-year-olds can't put themselves into another person's place yet. Even when she's four, your child probably won't be able to see things from someone else's point of view although she may begin to feel sorry for someone who's sad or hurt.
Everything Looks The Same
A preschooler cannot imagine herself in someone else's shoes, both figuratively and literally. Experts have shown that most preschoolers can't figure out what someone standing on the opposite side of the room from them would see. Children assume that everyone sees exactly what they see.
If Your Child Knows, Everyone Knows
This self-centeredness shows up in your preschooler's assumption that people will know small details about her life without being told. Your child might meet a friend of yours for the first time and begin referring to her preschool teacher or her favorite doll by name, assuming that your friend knows what she's talking about.
Only Their Lives Are Important
A preschooler is likely to assume that other people's lives are of minor importance--not nearly as detail-rich or compelling as her own. Preschoolers typically think that even natural events are related directly to their existence; ask your child why the sun comes up in the morning, and she might say, "So I'll know it's time to wake up."
When you go to the park with your child, you'll hear the famous preschool cry, "Watch me!" Children at this age are very impressed with their own achievements and they expect everyone else to be, too. Your child might say, "Wait until the kids in my class hear about my loose tooth!" She won't remember that she's not all that impressed when another child shows off his loose tooth. Her own accomplishments and milestones are all that count.
Impressing the people around her are an important part of a preschooler's social development. It builds her confidence and her sense of identity.
Controlling What Others Think Or Know
It's hard to be logical when you can't understand another person's experience. Your child might tell you what she's giving you for your birthday and then say, "Forget what I told you, okay?" She believes she can control what you're thinking just by ordering it.
Being self-centered is a normal developmental phase. Gradually, your child will learn first sympathy (feeling sorry for others) and then empathy (imagining herself in their shoes). Along the way, she's strengthening her ego and sense of self.
Our parenting advice is given as suggestions only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent or about a medical condition.