Raising Babies & Toddlers

Is it Egocentrism or Are Your Toddlers Being Brats?

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We’re quick to label toddlers brats whenever they throw a tantrum. But is it really just because they’re difficult? Or is it because they’re growing through the phase of Egocentrism?

We recognize our kids beginning their “Terrible Two’s or Three’s” when they start throwing more tantrums. They learn how to yell, stamp their foot, pout, and do other things. Most people would have been quick to judge our toddlers as brats but it may not be the case. At their age, toddlers actually go through a phase known as Egocentrism. It’s not that they’re being brats out of malice but more that they’re having difficulty envisioning themselves in someone else’s shoes.

What is Egocentrism?

Egocentrism, unlike being a brat, often happens in toddlers because they have difficulty imagining abstract things such as situations. Usually, they focus more on concrete things and still have a two-step thinking process. Like, if someone takes their toy, they’ll think that the other kid will take their toy away forever. The concept of lending may sound strange to them at first because they can’t see how another kid can enjoy their toy just as much as they do.

How can you tell it’s egocentrism in toddlers?

It’s rare to see toddlers engage in malicious behavior but, they’re being egocentric can be quickly written off as one. The best way to tell is to ask them why they’re in the midst of the tantrum. Taking them out of the situation and holding their hands gives them something to anchor their minds to, instead of trying to comprehend something abstract. As much as possible, they’re escalating because they’re confused so it’s up to us moms and dads to de-escalate by giving them something to anchor their minds to.

Early engagement plays a big role

Engaging our toddlers early and verbalizing our requirements from them can help grow them out of their egocentrism faster. By verbalizing it, we give our toddlers something concrete to work with. They won’t have to struggle to imagine the said situation in their minds. Abstract thinking happens when they’re heading towards their tween and teen years since their brains will develop more grooves to take in more information.

Engaging our toddlers in play helps them grow out of their egocentrism faster

Entitlement vs Egocentrism: They’re not the same!

Entitlement has more thinking time and assumes that the person chooses to not think about how others may feel. Egocentrism, on the other hand, has two elements: being unaware of the situation and not completely understanding what’s happening. That’s usually something that happens in toddlers but they don’t have to stay in that phase. Helping them grow out of it is also a part of our journey as parents so that they can make smart and compassionate choices.

Looking for more toddler tips? Here’s more!

Rocio Olbes Ressano: How Toddlers and Babies Brought Season of Change
Activities for Toddlers: 5 Online Groups Your Toddlers Can Join
Toddler Tantrums Driving You Crazy? These 5 Tricks Will Help You Deal