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😦😔🤒 A narcissistic child can be hard to handle, but you can learn how to defuse their behaviors. You may be worried that your child is a narcissist if they’re overly entitled or manipulative. We’re here to help you figure out if your child has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, whether they’re still young or have reached adulthood. Additionally, we’ll help you handle your child’s narcissistic behavior so you can improve your relationship.
Section 1 of 3:What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)?
- NPD is a condition where someone is self-important, entitled, attention-seeking, and manipulative. No two narcissists are the same, so there are a variety of different traits you’ll see in them. In general, narcissists manipulate you by showering you with love, then insulting or disrespecting you. Their goal is to get what they want from you, whether it’s attention or material items.
- Ironically, people with narcissistic personality disorder can actually have low self-esteem, even though they’re arrogant and act like they’re better than everyone.XTrustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the world's leading hospitalsGo to source
- Like all parents, you want the best for your child. However, overindulging your child can actually cause narcissism because your kid might learn to expect special treatment from everyone.XTrustworthy SourcePubMed CentralJournal archive from the U.S. National Institutes of HealthGo to source
Section 2 of 3:Signs of Narcissism in Children
- Kids have similar traits to adults with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Keep in mind that it’s normal for children to need a lot of attention and to feel a little entitled sometimes. Their behavior might be narcissistic if it’s harming others. If you suspect your child has NPD, take them to a psychiatrist or psychologist to get a diagnosis so they and your family can get the help you need. Watch for these traits of NPD:XTrustworthy SourceProceedings of the National Academy of SciencesOfficial peer-reviewed and multidisciplary journal for the National Academy of Sciences.Go to sourceXTrustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the world's leading hospitalsGo to source
- Their ego is overly inflated.
- They feel entitled to everything they want and to special treatment.
- They believe they’re special and better than other kids.
- They lie about their skills and achievements.
- They use gaslighting to manipulate people.
- They take advantage of others or blame them for their failures.
- They have unrealistic fantasies about what they can achieve.
- They become aggressive or violent when criticized or embarrassed.
- They envy other kids.
- They lack empathy.
Section 3 of 3:Handling a Narcissistic Child
- 1Love your child unconditionally so they don't have to be the best. If your child believes your love has conditions, they’ll feel pressured to excel and always be the best. When you're frustrated, try to see things from your child’s perspective. Ask yourself how they might feel in a particular situation or why they might be reacting a certain way. Additionally, remind yourself that they didn’t choose to be a narcissist.XResearch source
- Consistently tell your child that you love them as they are. Say, "I’ll always love you, no matter what."
- Praise their efforts, not their achievements. Say things like, "Hard work is what matters. Good job!" or "I’m so proud of you for sticking with it."
- 2Model healthy relationships for your child. Your children learn from watching you, so be a great teacher. Be kind and respectful to others so your child knows that’s important. Additionally, be dependable for your friends and family so your child learns what it’s like to be loyal.XResearch source
- You might ask them what they notice about your relationships. You could say, "Did you see how I spoke kindly to my friend?" or "I just got invited to a party on the same day I offered to help Grandma. What do you think I should do?"
- 3Talk to your child about how their behavior affects others. Speak calmly to them so they don’t feel confronted. If you work together, you can understand where you’re both coming from and create some solutions. Narcissists are really focused on themselves, so use "we"-language to get your child on your side. You could say something like:
- "When we call people names, it really hurts their feelings. We speak kindly to others so they speak kindly to us."
- "I understand why you want a new phone. At the same time, we have to wait for things that we want. It hurts my feelings when you demand items from me."
- "I know you’re really busy with work, but I am, too. I’m really overwhelmed by the help you expect from me. We both need to do a better job of taking care of our own needs."
- 4Speak calmly and firmly when addressing behavioral problems. Disciplining your child can feel very tricky since they can be like a ticking time-bomb. Narcissists are very sensitive to criticism and aggression, so they’ll blow up if they feel confronted.XTrustworthy SourceHelpGuideNonprofit organization dedicated to providing free, evidence-based mental health and wellness resources.Go to source Instead, sit down with them and tell them what they did wrong. Additionally, explain what they could do next time and any consequences they’ll face.
- If your child is very young, you might say, "We don’t throw toys at each other. Next time, tell me when you’re upset. We’re going to sit here for a few minutes while you calm down."
- If your child is school-aged, you could say, "We don’t hit. It’s important that we keep our hands to ourselves. Next time, use your words. You’re going to spend the rest of the evening in your room so you have time to think about what you did."
- For a teen, say something like: "We don’t lie in this family. I’m really hurt that you deceived me, and I’m worried you could put yourself in an unsafe situation. You’re grounded for the next two weeks."
- 5Teach your child how to listen to others. Your child learns how to have conversations by practicing with you and by watching you converse with people. Start by taking turns talking and listening to each other. Then, create opportunities for your child to watch you speak with other adults. When your child is being a good listener, praise them for doing such a great job.XResearch source
- You could say, "I noticed that you did a great job listening to Grandma’s story today. I’m really proud of you," or "Your teacher says you listened well in class today. Great job!"
- 6Praise them when they help someone. Encourage your child to act kindly to others. In time, this can help them overcome some of their narcissistic tendencies. You might compliment them for:XResearch source
- Helping you with a chore.
- Assisting a sibling.
- Showing affection.
- Saying "thank you."
- Apologizing for a mistake.
- 7Set boundaries with your child. Your boundaries are what you’re willing to do for someone, as well as what you won’t do. When it comes to your child, you’d probably go to the ends of the earth for them. At the same time, they might make unreasonable requests sometimes, such as asking for a really expensive item. Establish boundaries with your child by setting some expectations. Say something like:
- "I’m not going to talk to you when you’re yelling. I’ll respond when you speak calmly."
- "It’s not okay for you to call your sister names. If you do, I’m going to take away a privilege."
- "I’m not going to buy you a toy while we’re grocery shopping."
- 8Confront their sense of entitlement. A narcissistic child thinks they’re entitled to attention, accolades, and material items. They expect everyone to cater to their whims and will lash out if someone says, "no."XTrustworthy SourceHelpGuideNonprofit organization dedicated to providing free, evidence-based mental health and wellness resources.Go to source Calmly tell your child that everyone is special in their own way, but no one gets everything that they want. Moving forward, tell them "no" when it’s appropriate.
- When you won’t buy them a toy, they might throw a tantrum. You could say, "I understand why you’re upset, but we’re not here for toys. Sometimes we can’t have what we want right away."
- When they lose a sports game, they could react angrily. You could say, "Losing is frustrating, but it’s something we all experience. What’s important is having fun and doing your best. I’m proud of you for playing."
- Expect your child to react angrily when you say "no," at least at first. It’ll take them time to get used to it.
- 9Sandwich criticisms between compliments. Narcissists really struggle with criticism and typically get angry. To soften the blow, tell your child something they did well first. Additionally, say something nice afterwards. Your child may still get upset, but the compliments will make it easier for them to accept their faults.XResearch source
- "You did a great job cleaning your room today. On the other hand, I noticed you didn’t do your homework. You’re so smart, so I don’t want you to get a zero on the assignment."
- "You played a great game today. However, it was rude to tease the other team. You really hurt their feelings. You’re so smart, I’m sure you could come up with something nice to say."
- 10Take your child to therapy. A good therapist can help your child understand their behavior and make positive changes in their life. They’ll learn how to relate better to others, how to make friends, and how to develop a healthy self-esteem. Choose a child therapist with experience in treating Narcissistic Personality Disorder.XTrustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the world's leading hospitalsGo to source Additionally, make sure your child feels comfortable with them.
- 11Practice self care to help you cope with your struggle. Parenting a narcissistic child can be very stressful, so make yourself a priority. To start, get proper sleep, eat well, and exercise. Additionally, do things that feel good to you, like playing with your pet or taking a bath.XResearch source You deserve to by happy.
- Set aside some time just for you. You may be able to relax at night after the kids go to bed. Alternatively, ask someone to babysit your child so you can have a few hours to treat yourself.
- Stay strong if your child pushes back when you try to address their narcissistic behaviors. It’s totally normal for a narcissist to pull away or make new demands when they’re confronted.XTrustworthy SourceHelpGuideNonprofit organization dedicated to providing free, evidence-based mental health and wellness resources.Go to source
- Ask for help! Parenting is hard enough, but it can be even more difficult when you’re learning how to cope with a narcissistic child.
- Consider family therapy to help everyone understand NPD and how to cope with it. A good therapist can help you all live a happier life.