Case Study: Childhood Development Cognitive Behavioral Analysis

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[. . .] For example, when engaging in 'kitchen play,' the child often ignored the needs of her playmates. When she was pretending to 'cook' the plastic food and then give it to the adults, she did not ask her playmates, who were also engaged in playing kitchen, if she should do so. She did not show consideration for their needs and feelings; she merely walked over with the food to the adults. The fact that she made her favorite foods for the adults to give to them showed that she assumed that everyone loved cookies and pizza. She did not ask the adults what their favorite foods might be before she 'cooked.'

Also, "the child who believes that dreams take place in one's room at night (realism), that moving objects have life and consciousness (animism), or that the moon follows them because it wants to (artificialism), is displaying egocentrism just as surely as the child who is unable to differentiate self-other perspectives" (Hill & Lapsey 2009). This egocentrism was seen when the child brought over a book to show an adult and named animals in the book. Although she was able to connect the symbolic name of the animal with the picture in the book, when she saw a giraffe she looked at it and said with a questioning look "don't make a noise" and quickly turned the page almost as if she didn't want to stay on that page. This showed confusion between representation and reality, as if the animal could make a loud noise like a real animal, which was not permitted in the classroom at the time. The child also showed common confusion between the continued existence of the giraffe when she could not see it, versus the existence of the giraffe/picture of the giraffe the page was turned. The child was developmentally advanced enough to hold symbolic representations of color and number in her head and understand the concept of having a 'mental picture' of an animal, but thought that when the giraffe could no longer be seen, it could no longer make noises and also that a picture could make noise.

Additionally, because giraffes are not known as noisy animals, the child seemed to assume that the giraffe may have wanted to make noise like herself, regardless of the innate qualities of the animal. Egocentrism may also have been seen in the incident when the child heard the word 'cat.' She assumed because the other child was shouting out 'cat,' that the child was referring to her picture even though the other student may have been referring to someone else's drawing.

Egocentrism does not imply selfishness on the part of the child (the child seemed willing to share her pretend 'food' with others). Rather, it is a natural part of cognitive development. Children are not biologically capable of non-egocentric behavior until age 6 or 7. "Piaget suggested that egocentrism was a primary characteristic of children's thought processes until around 6 to 7 years of age, or when they are able to form mental representations during problem solving" (Hill & Lapsley 2009).

Although Piaget tended to view cognitive development in a linear fashion, for many children -- including this child -- development proceeds in a series of 'fits and starts.' In other words, the child may show mastery of certain symbolic concepts like language and representational play but still have trouble understanding others, like the continued existence of an object even when they cannot see it. The path of cognitive development varies for every child, and although children cannot be developmentally 'rushed' past a certain point, teachers can help the process along. "Piaget and others have suggested that children learn how to take the perspectives of others better through interacting with their peers than with adults. Hence classroom activities that emphasize cooperative learning, peer group discussion, and cross-age teaching are well-suited to introduce instances of cognitive conflict that require better appreciation of the perspective of others" (Hill & Lapsley 2009).


McLeod, S.A. (2009). Jean Piaget -- Cognitive theory. Simply Psychology. Retrieved from

Hill, Patrick & Daniel Lapsley. (2009). Egocentrism. Education. com. Retrieved from: [END OF PREVIEW]

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Cite This Case Study:

APA Format

Childhood Development Cognitive Behavioral Analysis.  (2012, November 10).  Retrieved July 23, 2019, from

MLA Format

"Childhood Development Cognitive Behavioral Analysis."  10 November 2012.  Web.  23 July 2019. <>.

Chicago Format

"Childhood Development Cognitive Behavioral Analysis."  November 10, 2012.  Accessed July 23, 2019.