You probably think your 5-year-old is a good person, because you have a biological imperative to do so (sure, sure, the kid’s really sweet, too). But new research out of the University Of Washington’s Institute Of Learning And Brain Sciences suggests that your 5-year-old also thinks this, which is weird because they’re still about 3 years away from being able to verbally grasp the concept of self esteem.
Researchers got around this deficiency by giving 234 5-year-olds flags that represented “me” and “not me,” and then asked them to respond to a series of good and bad words. While none of these kids could give you a coherent answer to the question, “Are you a good person?”, 90 percent of them indicated that they had a positive image of themselves. The age is significant because there’s increasing evidence that early childhood development has long-term effects on academic success, and this study indicates that kids can have a positive or negative view of themselves before they ever get to first grade.
One way to determine if your own 5-year-old isn’t necessarily super self confident? See if they’re quick to imitate their peers. If so, you might need to let them start winning at Chutes And Ladders a few more times — which the pros say you should probably be doing anyway, since any guy who needs to always beat his kid at Chutes And Ladders probably has self esteem issues of his own.