Although most parents have had nightmares about their children, one nightmare of parenting could easily be producing a narcissistic child who then becomes a narcissistic adult let loose on the world. Parenting a healthy child is all that you want to do, and that includes their mental health and development.
Parents rarely act intentionally to harm their child’s future, and more often, they do the very best they can with the skills and knowledge that they have at the time. Knowing that you have good intentions in parenting your child should give you a sense of pride in your child-rearing so far. We just want you to be cautious about how much love, praise, and freedom you give your child to make an adult who is healthy, happy, and whole.
We will look at the one unhealthy parenting trait that researchers reveal is the most likely to produce a narcissistic child and also, how to avoid this behavior. This article will also address how to recognize narcissism in your child and what to do about it.
Researchers Reveal: This ONE Parenting Trait Produces The Most Narcissistic Children
Narcissistic children become narcissistic adults. Narcissistic adults have a tendency to act out against their fellow man, rather than being a supportive member of the greater society that they live in. Narcissists are aggressive and act entitled because they believe that they are entitled to more because they believe themselves to be a superior person to you or anyone else.
Parenting behavior that produces narcissistic traits in children
Researchers at Ohio State University and Holland’s University of Amsterdam tested the theory that narcissists were produced by the parenting trait of giving children too little warmth, comfort, and love. They were able to show that praising children more than they might actually deserve based on their effort, their skills, and the relative performance of children in their peer group was actually doing more harm than good.
Related article: 3 Things To Remember If You Have Toxic Parents
The researchers found that narcissistic children tend to learn their spoiled behavior from parents when parents treat their children like they are perfect, superior, or more special than other children. Overly praising your child is the one parenting trait that you do not want to do if you want to avoid raising narcissistic children.
How to recognize narcissistic children
A narcissistic child acts selfishly. They act entitled to better treatment than other children, or even entitled to better treatment than you. Narcissistic people base their self-esteem and worth on the recognition that others give them. An easy to recognize example of this would be a child or teenager who is depressed over not getting enough likes on their social media posts.
Narcissistic children tend to be more aggressive than other children. They are also at risk for anxiety problems and drug addiction. The problem is an internal one where the child feels dependent on others to feel valued. When they do not receive the praise that they desperately need, they act out in self-harmful or even violent ways.
Children’s Psychiatrist Efrain Bleiberg lists the following behavioral problems that may cause parents to bring a narcissistic child in for therapy:
* Interpersonal relationship problems
* Attempts to control or manipulate
* School problems
* Poorly handles frustration
* Mood swings
* Lying, stealing, or breaking rules
* Self-doubts and intense envy of others
* Constant need for attention
Praising your children is valuable to help them learn which behaviors are desirable, but overly praising them is possibly doing them more harm than good when it comes to their healthy psychological development. Dr. Bleiberg says narcissistic children are often lonely, angry, empty, and envious.
Hope for narcissistic children
If you have accidentally been doing the one parenting behavior that produces narcissistic children, there is hope. One of the easiest ways to help your child is to change your parenting behavior going forward. Although it can feel like the right thing to do to praise your child because you feel like you are helping their self-worth, you may have inadvertently given them an over-inflated ego.
Instead, create situations that allow your children to learn that they are not the best, the smartest, the prettiest, or the most capable. Let them fail at sport, an exam that doesn’t affect their grade too much, or praise another child who shows traits of selflessness instead of praising your own child. Encourage your children to make friends so that you aren’t being overprotective of the criticism that they will get from their friends when they act selfishly. Even better, teach them empathy and kindness.
Developing a personal identity, learning to set and honor boundaries, and learning to balance both independence and asking for help are all a part of growing up. These skills are lacking in the narcissistic child, but they can be taught.
When you change your behavior but don’t see results from your child, it may be time for professional help. Seek counseling for your narcissistic child’s behavior before it becomes a pattern of behavior in adulthood that cannot be changed as easily.