This post continues the description of subsets that make up the universal motivator, self-interest (post 223). Mature self-interest arrives after a child passes through three stages that are simplified here for clarity.
Selfish (post 239), self-centered, and self-tests are actions that motivate children at various stages of growing up. This post summarizes selfishness and then addresses self-centeredness.
In the last half of the weans, selfishness is the standard order of the day for toddlers. Such children promote their interests ahead of what’s agreeable with others. It becomes an undesirable habit, when they learn that it pays off.
As effective parenting discourages selfishness, the child learns to think long instead of short term. He learns that spitefulness does not pay but fairness usually does. Groundwork is thus laid for the next stage after toddlerhood.
Self-centeredness arises during the tweens and takes two forms in every child. Whether viewed as good or bad, he behaves to make himself feel good about himself.
Parents consider it bad, when a child focuses repeatedly on getting others to make him feel good about himself. The child dwells on getting attention, affection, or appreciation. After repeated failures to be satisfied, he often escalates to outrageous behavior.
Parents consider it good, when a child energizes himself to make his life better or more interesting. He depends upon himself to feel good about himself. He learns to benefit from turning off his selfish and self-centered switches when associating with others.
Self-centeredness in the tweens determines what’s ahead for the child and helps shapes his adult self-interest.
Lessons learned take on permanence as puberty arrives. Following that, the teen years provide the third stage of developing adult self-interest—self-testing. That’s the next post in this series.
[More about childhood mental growth appears in posts 239, 223, 208, 197, 193, 192, 187, 178, and 177. Scroll down or search by the number with a dot and space following it.]