A client once approached me with a rather funny conundrum: her toddler could not get enough of looking at himself in the mirror!

Was her kid perhaps overly self-centered?

If you’re a parent or caregiver, you might relate to this mother’s unease. After all, how many times do our young kids demand, “Look at me, look at me!”

If your child. . .

refuses to share their toys or food (or anything!) with their siblings. . . 
seems solely engrossed in themselves. . .
constantly bugs their older brother or sisterSo, when is it “okay” for your child to be self-centered? 1. When they’re developing their sense of self. without any consideration for their feelings. . .

. . . should you worry that they’re being selfish or self-centered?

2. When they’re not ready to share.

As babies, our kids have an undifferentiated consciousness. Because they haven’t yet developed their sense of “otherhood,” everything is enmeshed in their perspective. They can’t identify their big toe from their pinky toe, much less understand that a child and their parents have their own set of needs.

As parents and caregivers, we should encourage our kids to develop a strong sense of “me” or “self” as separate from everyone else. A strong sense of self helps children develop the skills they need for self-direction and healthy autonomy.

Some parents push their kids to share, not realizing that authentic compassion and consideration cannot be forced!

As the saying goes, “an apple will fall to the ground when it’s ripe.” The same logic applies to children: they will come to a skill like sharing on their own, when they’re ready.

Let your child know it’s completely okay (and encouraged!) to ask for what they need.

When we try to force or push our kids to begin sharing faster, we’re not trusting the fundamental truth, which is that they will naturally begin thinking about others when they reach that developmental milestone.

In fact, the underpinnings of narcissism actually begin when kids are denied the attention they need, because they grow up craving it all their lives.

Plus, remember that your child does have a legitimate dependence on you. It’s not like they can cook a meal on their own or drive themselves to band practice! Responding to their needs is all part of what it means to be a parent.

So, if your kid comes across as self-centered, know that it’s completely normal. They need to learn healthy self-centeredness first, before they can truly consider the people around them.

Want to learn more about cultivating healthy self-centeredness in your child? Don’t hesitate to give me a shoutout. I’m happy to answer your questions.

Love and Blessings,

P.S. Is an older child exhibiting narcissistic behavior beyond what’s developmentally appropriate? Download my ebook and learn about how to deal with the 3 Rs of Retaliation, Rebellion, and Resistance in adolescents.

Originally published at https://www.consciousparentingrevolution.com on July 30, 2021.