9 Keys for Dealing with Egocentric Children

During the first years of a child's life, it's natural for them to go through a stage where they act stubborn and self-centered. Learn the keys for dealing with egocentric children in today's article.
9 Keys for Dealing with Egocentric Children
Mara Amor López

Written and verified by the psychologist Mara Amor López.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

It’s very common for kids to be egocentric and stubborn during their first years of life. In fact, it’s a normal stage in their evolutionary development because it’s natural that they feel like they’re the center of the universe. As a parent, it’s best not to try and change that mindset, but to make them see that they shouldn’t have that attitude. This will require patience, understanding and being firm. Keep reading to learn the keys for dealing with egocentric children.

Many parents wonder why their young children, up to 3 years old, are so self-centered. For example, they say no to everything, they never do what’s asked of them, etc. This behavior is especially worrisome if their child previously behaved well and now they don’t. However, even if we can’t understand their egocentric behavior at the beginning, it’s important to understand that this is a normal part of your child’s development as they get older.

Egocentric children

Like we’ve already mentioned, egocentric and stubborn behaviors come with age. Even though your child doesn’t have many linguistic capabilities, when they do master some words, they do so perfectly.

9 Keys for Dealing with Egocentric Children

When they start to learn words like “no” and how their pronunciation affects their parents’ behavior, they’ll feel good about it and feel delighted. That’s because they’ll feel like they’re in control of the situation. 

Therefore, we could say that their behavior is closely related to the development of their capacities and abilities. In addition, we could say this is one when they start to discover who they are. The good news is that this is usually temporary and shouldn’t last past four years of age. Also, this stage is full of changes for your child. They start to realize what they want, but they aren’t sure of their limitations.

Because of that, they tend to react negatively when they don’t get what they want. This is especially true when someone is imposing a limit on them. Then what happens? First, they won’t want anything to do with anyone, then they’ll throw a tantrum.

Patience is key to dealing with egocentric children

Once parents understand that this phase of being stubborn is “normal,” they should be patient with their child. This will be the key to practicing self-control in situations that will require it, like when our child is being stubborn. 

It’s important to handle the situation, control yourself and be patient. Despite their poor behavior, you shouldn’t give in to their wishes. There are some things that you can’t negotiate and, therefore, you have to stay firm and consistent when facing those things. In addition, it’s important to be responsible and to raise your children in a loving but firm way.

When you’re faced with situations where you can be flexible, like letting them choose the color of their shirt, choosing which toy to take to the park, etc., then you should be flexible and let them make those decisions.

However, when it comes to situations like not wanting to hold your hand in the street or not wanting to get dressed to leave the house, you should be affectionate bur firm. That’s because it’s not possible to negotiate in those situations.

More keys to dealing with egocentric children

Now, we’re going to share some things that parents can do to deal with their stubborn children. Remember, you don’t want to change their mindset. Instead, you want to make them realize that their attitude isn’t right.

Be very clear so there aren’t any doubts

You have to establish limits that your child needs to respect. For example, when you go out, they always have to hold your hand. You need to make this clear so there’s never any question about it.

Use a few clear and effective rules

It’s important to set clear and effective rules. If you’re not sure of something, it’s best not to answer right away so that your child doesn’t see that you’re unsure.

Clearly explain why they have to do things

You should always explain why we do certain things, and your child doesn’t have to agree with it. However, they should start to understand little by little.

Be patient

Like we previously mentioned, patience is very important during this stage. As you know, this behavior is temporary and, if you know how to manage it, this stage won’t negatively impact your child. Also, it’s important that you de-dramatize negative situations and that you don’t add fuel to the fire. 

Take preventative measures

If you know of any situations or actions that may anger your child or lead to a tantrum, it’s best to avoid them.

Divert your child’s attention to something else

When your child is acting stubborn or self-centered, it’s best to distract them and divert their attention to something else. This will help you avoid problems.

Highlight the good things they do

When your child does something positive, it’s important to point it out. You should give positive actions importance so that your child does too.

9 Keys for Dealing with Egocentric Children

Set an example

Teach you child that their actions should be based on generosity, respect, patience and all the values that you have raised them on.

Make sure both parents are on the same page

It’s very important that both parents are on the same page when it comes to raising their child, and that you don’t disagree with one another in front of your kid. If you have to negotiate something about raising your child, you shouldn’t do it when they’re present. 


As you can see, when it comes to dealing with egocentric children, you have to have a loving, calm attitude, but also be firm. Children need to have limitations so they understand what they can and cannot do. In addition, this will help them learn what is right and what is wrong.

These keys can help you deal with a stubborn child during the stage of their life when they’re more self-centered. However, you have to keep in mind that you shouldn’t try to change their mindset, but instead make them understand that their attitude is incorrect. And, you want to do that little by little. In doing so, they’ll learn to control their own mindset.


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Delgado Lara, C. S. (2012). Guía de manejo para niños con egocentrismo de 3-4 años dirigido para padres de familia del centro infantil Gena. (Bachelor’s thesis).
  • Gutiérrez, M. D. M. E. (2008). El egocentrismo del niño. Sumario General Página, 13, 37.
  • Saldaña Llacsahuache, D. Y. (2019). Características del egocentrismo en niños menores de 5 años.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.