If you have ever secretly felt that you hate your stepkids, this blog is for you. I know that these feelings are horrible. But, it happens, right? Between working, taking care of the house and family, plus being a partner to someone, it’s all you can do to keep your head on straight. This blog is the first of a 3-part series where we screw our heads on straight. I promise you will feel better.
Let’s Go Back to the Basic Biology
We all know that our egos and our left brain know the fairy tale. Women hate each other and the kids always hate the stepmother. It’s one of the rules.
So, when we see our children with dirty rooms, rolling eyeballs or just bad attitudes, we immediately think, “It’s the divorce! It’s because they hate me!” No, actually, it’s because they are kids. It’s easy to forget that. One of the biggest complaints is that the kids don’t listen. The good news is that they are not supposed to listen. In fact, they are living in their own worlds…or an egocentric place.
Egocentricity is the inability to see the world, except from your own point of view. Swiss developmental psychologist Jean Piaget theorized that the degree of egocentrism is directly related to the child’s level of cognitive development. In the infant stage (birth to age two) children are completely egocentric. In the toddler and preschool stages (ages two to six) children are unable to distinguish their point of view from that of others. In the middle childhood stage (ages six to twelve) children develop greater cognitive abilities. Therefore, their egocentrism declines and are able to visualize a situation from another’s point of view. In the adolescent stage (ages twelve to nineteen) egocentrism further declines, as individuals are able to analyze a situation from many perspectives.”[i]
Of course, there is no way that anyone would think that a teenager does not suffer from egocentricity. You would be right. Dr. David Elkind, a specialist in adolescent development, claims that teens live in their own personal fables where they feel as if they are super special.”[ii] I am sure that we have all seen that behavior in our teenagers.
Let’s not get caught up in our own egocentric thinking. Don’t assume that your children’s behavior always has to do with us. Most likely, our children are just being kids.
[i] Piaget, Jean. The Construction of Reality in the Child. New York: Basic Books, 1954.
[ii] Elkind, David. “Egocentrism in Adolescence.” Child Development 38 (1967): 1025-1034.