Helping Your Child Overcome Self-Centeredness and Selfishness

According to the book How to Help Children with Common Problems by Charles E. Schaefer, Ph.D., and Howard L. Millman, Ph.D., “Selfish people are overly or exclusively concerned with themselves. They concentrate on their own well-being or pleasure without regard for others. Self-centered people are concerned with their individual desires rather than the interests of society and they appear to be relatively independent of outside influence. Their outlook or perspective is limited to concern with their own activities or needs.” Personality traits such as these are generally looked upon as undesirable and unacceptable.

 Indicators of Self-Centeredness and Selfishness

  • low productivity
  • few moral values
  • poor self-concept
  • negative view of others
  • difficulty relating to peers
  • lack of group belonging

Steps to Overcoming Self-Centeredness and Selfishness

  • Accept: Children who are accepted and loved by others feel good about themselves. Showing your child that you accept him for his strengths and weaknesses will help him develop empathy for others. Communicate to your child that he is loved whether he behaves properly or improperly. When your child accepts himself, there will be no need to develop a self-centered lifestyle. 

  • Give: Give your child responsibilities in the home. Responsibility is a natural method of experiencing and learning empathy. Responsibility for the care of a pet is an excellent experience for those in early childhood. Make sure the duties are age appropriate. Have your child help a younger sibling with certain things or assign her household chores. Doing chores teaches children that they are responsible for performing tasks that are important for the welfare of the group. Of course, don’t overburden your child with responsibilities.

  • Promote: The most direct way to prevent selfishness is to promote self-acceptance. Making your child feel adequate and secure will help him feel worthwhile. Children who accept themselves as worthwhile individuals feel safe and can naturally care about the welfare of others because they are not preoccupied with their own self-doubts.

  • Share: Sharing your time, energy, and abilities with others are clear illustrations of a non-selfish approach to others. Giving of yourself is generally reciprocal. The person you help often expresses gratitude, which leads you to feel good.