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Egocentric and Magical Thinking

Overview

What is egocentric thinking in young children?

Egocentric thinking is the normal tendency for a young child to see everything that happens as it relates to them. This is not selfishness. Young children are unable to understand different points of view. For example, a preschool child might sympathize with their parent and try to comfort them 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.

What is magical thinking in young children?

Magical thinking is a child's belief that what they wish for or expect can affect what really happens. For example, if a child wants very much for something to happen, and it does, the child believes they caused it to happen. If your child is mad at a friend and wants them to leave, and the friend then gets sick and goes to the hospital, your child may think the illness is your child's fault.

Credits

Current as of: August 3, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
John Pope MD - Pediatrics
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Louis Pellegrino MD - Developmental Pediatrics

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