Magical Thinking in Young Children Telltale Signs

“Magical thinking” can refer to an adult or child’s tendency to make irrelevant connections between seemingly unrelated events or actions. Folklore and superstition are often linked to magical thinking by psychologists because these traditions claim that people’s actions lead to specific results, even if the first event does not influence those outcomes. If you’ve heard the adage “step on a crack, break your mother’s back,” you know what I mean.

As a child, you’re likely to engage in magical thinking.

While children’s magical thinking is usually accepted as natural, magical thinking may be linked to obsessive-compulsive disorder in adulthood.

During the toddler years, children begin to engage in magical thinking.

Some youngsters may come to believe that their actions have an effect on the world around them if they adopt this mindset. For example, a child may believe that only when she eats with a pink spoon would her meal taste pleasant or that sleeping with her blanket tight will keep the monsters away.

Because they are egocentric, young children already believe that their activities affect the world around them.

The use of magic may heighten this impression. Your toddler may believe, for example, that spinning in circles will bring his favorite television show on since he did it once before.


Additionally, magical thinking might cause children to avoid or fight particular situations and routines.

Suppose your child refuses to use the bathroom at daycare, for example. In that case, you might look for signs that she has connected the potty at school with anything unpleasant, even though there is no reasonable connection between the two.

Because your child cannot think logically about the circumstance, it can be quite difficult to break these associations in her mind. It’s possible that waiting until your child forgets her “rule” or until you discover a way to compromise would be the best option until you can just wait it out.

Childcare providers must be flexible when making compromises, such as providing a potty at daycare that the child can use at home.

Refuting Common Perceptions

You shouldn’t be alarmed if your preschooler tends to believe in magic. Consider it a typical part of toddler growth. There are several methods you can oppose the child’s thinking patterns if they start interfering with the child’s daily routines (mealtime, school time, bedtime).

When a toddler believes spinning in circles will bring his favorite TV show on, you might show him that the program is always on at noon on Saturdays. Negotiating agreements that allow the child to carry out daily duties despite their magical ideas is one technique to deal with the child’s magical thinking.

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