Idea of Egocentrism in Young Children


Egocentric nature of children is based on their inability to differentiate self from non-self, especially in understanding their view that possibly differs from the objective reality. Such a belief makes them assume that they are indeed the center of attention. Egocentric behavioral patterns are common in young kids than adults since the latter can correct him/herself faster than a child, and less likely to adopt the egocentric perspective. However, the emergence of the egocentric aspects in children is part of the psychological developments in mind and identification of self through cognition (Traill, 2012). More so, in young children, egocentrism is depicted from the behaviors, thoughts, and values that are distinct from others. Such a consideration constitutes the theory of mind, where misinterpretation is exhibited due to the new introduction to different concepts and possibly long durations with the caregivers.  Even though, the different view can be expressed in a child for as early as a year and three months old. Therefore, the initial stages of development children are unable to process a logical thought. Thus, Jean Piaget argued that centration is one of the significant barriers to logics in young kids.

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According to the developmental psychology, young children learn how to use symbols as a form of language from the age of two, which suggests that the thinking is preoperational. Such a consideration suggests that a child cannot utilize his/her logics in combining ideas. During the development, one acquires experience about the world and the environment in adapting to mechanisms of critical thinking. However, after the preoperational stage, the child can demonstrate semiotic functions and involve in symbolic events that will portray their egocentric nature. The idea of young children being egocentric is derived from the manner in which they think and communicate with the rest about themselves. In such regard, children’s egocentrism refers to the inability to perceive an event from another person’s perspective (Singer-Freeman, 2014). Based on Piaget’s point of view, an egocentric kid believes that other people see things similarly to what the child sees, hears or feels.

Jean Piaget’s stages of development

Sensorimotor stage

During the sensorimotor stage, the toddlers often do manipulate objects and sensory experiences as part of knowledge acquisition. Piaget deduced the phase through observation of movements of his daughter and nephew, where he noted that sensory and motor explorations are used in developing child’s intelligence. Piaget was convinced that producing a persistent object was vital in the development of the infant since it helps in understanding the situation (Piaget, 1977). Therefore, through the identification of objects as separate entities and acknowledging that different perception of individuals helps in the attachment of words and names to objects.

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Pre-operational stage

The preoperational stage is the second phase of cognitive development in respect to Jean Piaget theory. During the stage, the child internalizes the use of symbols for communication, which suggests that transformation of separate ideas cannot be achieved. Centration a tendency to primarily focus on a particular thing at every given moment is evident. Though, focusing on different events at the same time is likely to decenter the abilities, which presents challenges of social contexts. At the onset of the stage, children do engage in parallel activities since each child concentrates in his/her world with egocentric speech. Besides, Piaget proclaims that language reflects on the knowledge already acquired and did not enable cognitive developments. More so, the toddlers exhibit pretense by impersonating people they are not, like police, which symbolizes actual life objects. Therefore, the symbolic play may involve invention of an imaginary playmate that would advance they approaches towards people and objects (Kail, 2007). Thus, the development of the preoperational stage leads to a decline in the child’s egocentrism marked with the involvement of other children in their games, that is, improvement of relations.

Besides, animism is often depicted by children at the preoperational stage, that is, inanimate objects are often considered to possess human feelings and thoughts. Such a move led to the identification of four different phases of animism by Piaget. For instance, a child believes that everything is alive for an intended purpose up to the ages of four and five. Secondly, a toddler appreciates that only moving objects have a sense of existence at the age of 5 to 7 (McLeod, 2009). Thirdly, all moving objects are purposely alive at 7-9 years. Lastly, it comes to the knowledge of a child that only plants and animals are living at the age of 9 to 12.

Concrete operational stage

At the concrete-operational stage, young children begin developing logical thoughts, though still aspects of rigidity can be evident in their thinking. Such a consideration results in a struggle between theoretical and abstract ideas. However, during the concrete phase, children tend to be more decentered and less egocentric since they start thinking about people’s feelings and thoughts. Besides, the first understanding of personal views as unique is exhibited (Gruber, 2004). Therefore a kid appreciates that his/her opinions can be manifested in various ways and does not necessarily mean shared feelings, thought and views of others.

Formal operational stage

The formal operational stage marks the end of the Piaget’s concepts with the involvement of increased logic, critical thinking and improved understanding of the conceptual ideas. However, during this stage, a child is capable of formulating different solutions to various problems and incorporates scientific knowledge in exploring the world around him/her. Therefore, egocentric nature becomes because reasoning is involved in making appropriate decisions and suggested.

Three mountain task of Jean Piaget

The idea of the three mountain task was used in testing if children were egocentric. In the study, it was noted that egocentric children often assume that other people will have the same depiction as theirs in regards to the three mountains. Piaget realized that at the age of 7, the rate of egocentrism is no longer evident since they can adjust beyond their perceptions. However, the experimental aim of the research was to determine the age at which a child decenters. In such a scenario, three different mountains were presented to a child on a table and allowed to move around the model, and then various views of a doll are expressed at different positions. In that situation, a correct depiction of the doll’s view was an indication of lack of egocentrism, while wrong selection suggested otherwise (Kay et al., 2012). From the research, it was established that the children aged four years often picked pictures in correspondence to their opinions, while above six-year-old demonstrated some awareness as an alternative approach. Though, kids of ages 7 and eight regularly showed the accurate picture (Berger, 2011). Therefore, it was concluded that at seven years, a child in decentered, that is, no longer egocentric because many perceptions can be exhibited.

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Limitations to child’s thoughts

In the descriptions given out by Piaget, limitations were based on the preoperational stage based on the techniques used in thinking, identification of mental tasks that appear difficult for children to undertake certain demanding tasks. For instance, inability conserves, decenter or carry out certain inclusion activities influenced by the challenge of recognizing that objects can be placed into groups or logical sequences. However, during the preoperational stage children tend to focus more on a particular aspect of a problem. At the same phase, solutions to an existing problem cannot be attained since no special attention is given. Conservation involves the understanding about something that retains its quantity despite modifications that might occur in the appearance. In such regard, Piaget deduced that different situations give rise to perceptional bond that draws the child to the changes (Arnett, 2013). As well, the thinking was suggested to be centered on every situational aspect in a kid simultaneous situations are unnoticed. Furthermore, child’s opinion on thinking is by status rather than transformation undergone, so intuitive judgments are made. Lastly, thought is made irreversible due to lack of appreciation of the reversed mechanism in the operations.

Consequently, from the Piaget’s theory, it is evident that the intellectual development in young children is not considered as a quantitative process, which gives the kids room for adjusting to acquire more information apart from the already existing as time progresses. However, a qualitative aspect of change in the thoughts of a child is exhibited during the four distinct stages of cognition. For instance, a kid aged seven does present more information compared to when he/she was at two-years-old (Callaghan, 2005). Such a move indicates that there is a fundamental change in the manner in which he/she perceives the world.

Alternatively, for a better understanding of the occurrences during the cognitive development, examination of the concepts and ideas by Jean Pigment is significant since it enables one to understand the basis of egocentrism in kids at different phases of life. Therefore, it is evident on the theory that various factors contribute to the growth and learning patterns in children. For instance, use of schemas for describing both physical and mental actions to improve knowledge and understanding of opinions. Assimilation can influence the absorption of new information to the already existing, which seems a subjective process. Nevertheless, accommodation and equilibration are also important in the modification of schemas to realize new experiences and details. Thus, Piaget’s theory is crucial in explaining the process of knowledge and intelligence about adoption, and abolishment egocentric behaviors in young children.

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