Adolescent egocentrism is normal in teens
Adolescent egocentrism is a belief that teens have; they usually feel that people are very keen and attentive to their behavior and appearance. It should not be a cause for alarm since it is a normal occurrence for teens between the ages of twelve or eleven years. It lasts until the teenager is around 16 years of age. Parents should be supportive and understanding to see their teenage sons or daughters have a peaceful and quiet transition into adulthood. The concept of egocentrism was developed by David Elkind who was a psychologist. He developed 2 concepts, imaginary audience and personal fable which are discussed below.
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Teens undergo a lot of changes during this adolescence. These changes range from physical changes, social changes to emotional changes. Due to the various changes taking place primarily physically, they feel that everyone has their eyes fixed on them checking out how they have dressed or their appearance and their behavior. This is however not true and it is a false belief.
Personally, I attended a boarding high school, and when we used to close school for the holidays, I usually found it hard going to town. Sometimes, my mum would require me to go down and buy groceries or run an errand for her. I would be reluctant because I found going to town, a place full of people intimidating. The reason being, I thought everyone was looking at me and observing my every move.
I would take a very long time like an hour just preparing myself to ensure that I look good. If I spotted a pimple on my face, I would try and make it less visible thinking that everyone else knew about it. In town, I would look straight ahead and I would not dare look back or look at a person. Sometimes, when I was not so ok with what I was wearing, I would walk facing down trying to avoid everyone’s eyes. If only I knew that everyone was minding their own business and they did not care how I looked like or the minute pimple on my face. I would be uneasy when conversing with a person of the opposite sex.
It would be worse if we were age mates because I had the impression that they knew my flaws. This would make me uncomfortable when talking to them. Approaching members of the opposite gender for a textbook or academic matters would be a great hurdle especially if they were in a group. I would think to myself that they were all watching me as I approach the group and as I walk away from them. It was more relaxing to be inside the house playing video games or sometimes I would decide to watch a movie, than being at the glare and limelight of my tiny world where I thought all eyes were fixed on me.
A personable fable is a belief that almost every teenager has during adolescence. They usually believe that they are special and unique unlike every one on earth. They believe that everyone is fascinated by them because they are destined to live a life that is full of glam and celebrity status, the life of a hero or legend.
In my life as a young teenager, I thought I would be a very rich person who would have homes all over the world. I knew that the world would be awed by me although it was not clear to me how this would happen. Being an innocent teenager, I would vow to help the needy once I became a billionaire. At the time, I knew I would be destined for greatness and stardom but when and how it would come I had no idea. It is a fact that if you ask every teenager, they will tell you they are unique and bound for greatness but if you ask them how that will happen, they cannot tell you. I remember during adolescence, I thought that I was being followed by the secret service because I believed I was not like any other person of my age because I was unique.
Elkind, D. (1967). Egocentrism in adolescence. Child development, 1025-1034.
Elkind, D., & Bowen, R. (1979). Imaginary audience behavior in children and adolescents. Developmental Psychology, 15(1), 38.
Enright, R. D., Lapsley, D. K., & Shukla, D. G. (1979). Adolescent egocentrism in early and late adolescence. Eric. Web.
Lapsley, D. K., & Rice, K. (1988). The “new look” at the imaginary audience and personal fable: Toward a general model of adolescent ego development. New York: Springer. (pp. 109-129).