Egocentric and magical thinking

Egocentric thinking is the normal tendency for a young child to see everything that happens as it relates to him- or herself. This is not selfishness. Young children are unable to understand different points of view. For example, a preschool child might sympathize with his or her father and try to comfort him by offering a favorite toy or stuffed animal, reasoning that what helps the child feel better will also comfort the adult. Egocentric thinking also can cause a young child to feel responsible if something bad happens.

Magical thinking is a child's belief that what he or she wishes or expects can affect what really happens. For example, if a child wants very much for something to happen, and it does, the child believes he or she caused it to happen. If your daughter is mad at her brother and wants him to leave, and he then gets sick and goes to the hospital, your daughter may think her brother's illness is her fault.

Last Updated: March 26, 2009

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