Preschoolers, in general, aren't known for their magnanimous natures, so what may seem egotistic or self-centered may actually be normal toddler developmental behavior. With patient guidance, children learn social graces as they get older. On the other hand, if your little one's picking up bad habits from rude children or suffering the brunt of inconsiderate behavior, it's time to step in.
1 Set the example.Treat others with consideration and thoughtfulness. You probably know a few adults who are egotistical and self-centered. How do you treat them? Do you talk about them behind their backs or express your frustration by yelling? Your little one will likely follow your lead when it comes to dealing with others. Avoid rude adults as much as possible. If contact is unavoidable, treat them graciously, but set healthy limits. Your child can learn from you that it's OK to say no to others.
2 Limit contact with a child whose behavior is continuously rude. What if the child happens to be your neighbor, or worse, a relative, though? Schedule play dates at your house, as much as possible, so you can supervise them. You can also use this time to model and teach positive social behaviors. For example, you might suggest that you all make cookies together and share them with an elderly neighbor. Praise kids when they use good manners.
3 Intervene when you see another child exhibiting inconsiderate behavior. Help your child set limits. Your blood may boil when you witness another child's rude behavior, but try to stay calm. Remember that perhaps the rude child was never taught appropriate behavior, or maybe she's actually imitating what she sees in her own home. Try to respond with firmness, but empathy. For example, if the child comments disparagingly on your child's clothes, toys, hair, or whatever, gently reply, "You're both special. When you make unkind comments to someone, it hurts her feelings. Please stop." This way, you're defending your little one without attacking the other child. You're also teaching your child how to defend herself appropriately.
4 Talk with your child if you see her picking up bad habits. Say something like, "I've noticed Gracie likes to say shut up and boss you around. How does that make you feel? In our house, we don't do those things." Talk with your child about how she can respond in challenging situations. Explain that she can ask the other child to stop, get help from a grown-up, or choose to play with someone else.
- Egotistical or self-centered behavior is often a cover-up for insecurities. Explore why a child is acting in such a way. Help your little one see the other child's point of view. Say something like, "Maybe she acts like that because she's trying to get attention. How can we help her to act nicer to others?"
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