Understanding the root causes of narcissistic behavior in children is crucial for parents. This article delves into common parenting mistakes – related to overindulging AND underindulging – that lead to narcissism and how to adjust your parenting style to raise empathetic kids.
If you are familiar with Greek mythology, you may have heard of Narcissus. So the story goes, Narcissus was so ridiculously handsome that he fell in love with, well, himself.
After seeing his own breathtaking reflection in a pond, he was so enamored (with the view of his own self) that he refused to leave and died at that very spot.
While this is just a story, narcissistic personality disorder is a true mental health condition in which people have an unreasonably high sense of their own importance. They often have an obvious lack of empathy and a moral compass. They have a great need for attention and validation from others.
What may come to a surprise to anyone, but narcissistic behavior in children is a growing problem.
And it will only get worse if parents don’t learn how to identify and avoid behaviors that lead to raising narcissistic kids.
The Two Factors that Lead to Narcissistic Behavior in Children
When it comes to narcissism, experts believe that you aren’t born with this trait, it actually develops as you grow (nurture, not nature).
Interestingly, these experts were able to pinpoint exactly the two specific parenting mistakes that lead to narcissistic kids: overindulging AND underindulging.
Let me explain.
Parents who raise narcissist kids overindulge their children when it comes to focusing on achievements, outcomes, and materialistic elements – and underindulge them when it comes to warmth, love, and empathy.
For example, this type of parent may be in the front row cheering for their kid’s football game, but then tell their child they are too busy to read together at night.
OR, post their child’s test scores all over social media, but ignore the child when they try to talk about the funny thing that happened on the school bus.
Can you think of a parent like that? I bet you can!
Children who are raised by these types of parents often believe they are superior to others, but also believe that love is based solely on outcomes and achievements. They lack empathy while having an unrealistic sense of self-importance.
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5 Ways to Avoid Raising Narcissistic Kids
Narcissistic behavior in children can be concerning for parents.
Luckily, there are simple ways that parents can prevent raising a self-absorbed and shallow human, and encourage empathy and kindness.
1) Praise the Progress, Not Just the Outcome
The parents of narcissistic kids typically focus too much attention on big achievements and outcomes only.
When your child is working on something, praise their progress. Point out that you notice their hard work and persistency. If they fail, make a big deal about how much they improved or how you admire their efforts.
Read these Parenting Tips to Raise Kids who Don’t Give up Easily
2) Practice Good Deeds
Childhood studies have suggested that unrewarded acts of kindness build advanced emotional intelligence.
This is due to the fact that there is no expectation for praise or a reward for being kind. The act becomes completely about the other person, which helps your child realize that other people are special too.
Try These Random Acts of Kindness Designed for Kids.
3) Have Clear Rules and Expectations
Setting boundaries and limits is crucial in preventing overindulgence and narcissistic behavior in children. It’s important for parents to establish clear rules and expectations for their children, and to enforce consequences when those rules are broken. Don’t be afraid to say “No”.
This helps children learn that their actions have consequences and that they are not entitled to everything they want. It also teaches them to consider the needs and feelings of others, rather than just their own desires.
Learn How to Talk so Kids Listen here!
4) Show Love and Acceptance for ALL Emotions
As mentioned earlier, a lack of parental warmth is a root cause of narcissistic behavior in children.
Spend quality time with your children (outside of school, sports, and other scheduled activities). Tell them you love them. And allow them to feel comfortable expression emotions to you – good AND bad.
Also, check your body language. Continual research shows that body language counts for a whopping 55 percent of what is absorbed while 38 percent is tone of voice. Only 7 percent is the actual words that are spoken.
Click here to learn how to guide your kids through all emotions big and small!
5) Encouraging Empathy and Gratitude in Children
Encouraging empathy and gratitude in children is an important step in preventing narcissistic behavior in children.
Parents can do this by modeling empathy and gratitude themselves, and by praising and rewarding their children when they show these qualities. Parents should also avoid speaking about other people in a negative light in front of their children to prevent a superiority complex.
Need a Damage Control Plan for a Spoiled Child? Start Here to Teach Them Gratitude!
Final Thoughts on Narcissistic Behavior in Children
Unfortunately, research shows that narcissism is on the rise, especially among the younger generation. Parents are teaching kids to be narcissists without even realizing it.
The world needs a generation of empathetic people who listen and care for others. What this world doesn’t need is more self-centered folks with superiority complexes.
Let’s work together, one family at a time, to teach children to be kind, appreciative of others, and grateful for the world around us.
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If you suspect that your child is exhibiting narcissistic behavior, it may be helpful to seek professional help. A therapist or counselor can work with your child to identify the root causes of their behavior and develop strategies for addressing it. They can also provide support and guidance for parents who may be struggling to manage their child’s behavior. It’s important to remember that seeking help is not a sign of weakness, but rather a proactive step towards promoting your child’s mental health and well-being.
Thursday 25th of May 2023
Your suggestions for parents to foster empathy, care, and gratitude in their child is to be caring, grateful, and empathetic; in other words, teach by example. Your website offers so much important, thoughtful advice; thank you.
Friday 26th of May 2023
Thank you so much for the kind words and visiting my blog!