In a Teen Mom OG teaser (yes, I said Teen Mom OG; that’s really happening), we see 6-year-old Sophia exhibiting some classically bratty behavior: making poopy, pouty faces and sticking her tongue out at her grandmother.
Abraham's response was to chastise Sophia for being selfish. “Sometimes you’re immature and selfish, and you don’t think about other people besides yourself,” she says in voice-over during a video montage of Sophia’s less-than-stellar behavior: throwing things, hitting her mom, making faces, etc. We don’t actually know what specific action triggered the “selfish” remark, but there appear to be plenty from which to choose.
While Sophia isn’t your typical 6-year-old, and her everyday life is probably different from that of kids you know, her behavior likely isn't that different from them either. Because most 6-year-olds are immature. They are selfish. Children are inherently selfish no matter how famous or infamous their parents may be, and sometimes they act like brats because of their selfish nature.
Hopefully they learn to care about the people around them as they grow up, but they come out of the womb being able to do nothing for themselves. They expect adults to do everything for them for quite a long time — feed them, entertain them and wipe their butts — without having to do much of anything for anyone else.
They are naturally very “me, me, me” and are driven by their wants and needs and not by reason and logic. A 6-year-old can have empathy for another person, but that’s something to be nurtured and coached instead something that can be taught through chiding and shame or in moments of anger.
We can and should talk to them about empathy and accountability as they grow, and children will develop these traits at different rates. However, calling a child selfish in the heat of the moment doesn’t help them understand what good behavior should look like, and it certainly won’t magically elicit future positive behaviors.
Little kids just aren’t wired to worry about other people besides themselves. They have to be taught, and sometimes it's a lesson that isn't easily learned. Kids are immature because they’re… well, maturing. And yes, we probably find it easy to condemn the parenting methods of celebrity moms in the spotlight or gasp at their children's behavior, but this is a common problem. Selfish kids aren’t exclusive to the rich and famous, and while there are certainly varying degrees of selfishness, it's how selfishness is handled that really matters.
That's not to say that bratty behavior should be tolerated, but it's important to realize where most of it stems from and that most parents will be faced with it at various times in a child's life. Experts advise things like setting empathic limits and identifying feelings to help. Find teaching moments to talk about selflessness and empathy; show them how to give to others, and provide opportunities to help others. Most kids will eventually catch on and leave their bratty ways (mostly) behind.
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