Given the technology and other trappings of today’s environment, how would modern parents avoid raising narcissistic children?
There is no easy answer to this question. A study has pointed out the causes of narcissism in children. Parents should understand these risk factors, so as to avoid them.
What is Narcissism?
Those who are unfamiliar with narcissism need a definition. The word ‘narcissist‘ has its roots in the name ‘Narcissus.‘
Narcissus was handsome but loved only himself. He died because of his arrogance; his ego consumed him, and he drowned after gazing at his image in the water. Narcissism now equates to having an unhealthy ego.
Psychologists categorize narcissism as a spectrum disorder. Narcissists have these traits, to a greater or lesser degree. First of all, they believe that they are more important than others, so they cannot tolerate being surpassed. The next trait is fantasizing. Narcissists fixate on being brilliant and beautiful. They believe that others fawn over their images.
They also believe that they are unique and that only people of a certain caliber can understand them. Also, narcissists have poor self-esteem. They need people to tell them how outstanding they are.
Finally, narcissists are manipulative. They lack empathy and use their charm to take advantage of others. Many of them have problems identifying with the feelings and needs of others.
Study Finds 4 Components of Raising Narcissistic Children
What then, do parents do to raise narcissistic kids? Dr. Esther Calvete and her fellow researchers have discovered four elements of a narcissistic upbringing. They drew their conclusions after interviewing 591 adolescents from 20 schools.
The four things that turn children into narcissists go as follows:
- exposure to violence
- lack of affection
- lack of healthy communication
- permissive parenting
First of all, narcissistic children tend to have more exposure to violence than their counterparts. It may prompt them to develop a sense of self-entitlement.
A lack of affection is the next feature. Narcissistic children find it hard to show love because they may have gotten little from their parents.
And then, there is a lack of healthy communication. Parents of narcissistic children may scold instead of offer kind words. It becomes a learned behavior.
Lastly, narcissistic kids may have a permissive upbringing. Often neglected and left to their devices, they misunderstand the norms of social behavior.
Kids who never have any accountability for their actions will continue through life thinking nothing is their fault and everything is owed to them.
Risk Factors for Nurturing Narcissistic Children
Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is rare. That said, some individuals display a tendency to develop it. Aside from the four elements discovered in the study, other factors may nurture narcissism in a child.
First of all, parents of narcissistic children may overemphasize how special they are. The kids grow up with an over-inflated sense of self-worth. They may also need constant affirmation. On the other extreme, parents may criticize the fears and failures of their children too heavily, so they develop a warped sense of perfection.
Next, parents of narcissistic kids may show disdain for emotions. Hence, they grow up not learning how to express their feelings positively. Lastly, children with narcissistic children may learn manipulative behaviors from their parents. They may become narcissists because their parents are.
Recognizing Narcissistic Children
No one intends to raise a narcissist. You may not realize that your child has developed narcissistic tendencies So, how would you know that he or she has an over-inflated ego?
First of all, narcissists believe that they are a cut above the rest. Children with narcissistic tendencies will boast that they are better than their friends at this, that or the other. They may have a compulsion to show off their toys.
Next, narcissistic children tend to preen themselves in front of mirrors. They have a need to prove that they are more attractive than others. Also, narcissistic kids need constant praise. They tell their parents about all their achievements and become upset when they do not receive acknowledgment. Children with narcissism believe that they are special, so they will express disdain for others they feel are inferior.
Furthermore, they may fail to recognize emotions and lack tact. As a result, they find it hard to keep friends. When they do form friendships, they do so for their gain.
How not to raise narcissistic children
If you have recognized narcissism in your children, how would you prevent it from developing further?
First of all, narcissistic children need to learn to relate to others. Avoid telling them how special they are all the time, and remind them that everyone has strengths. Also, show children genuine warmth. Compliment them by telling them that you love having them in the kitchen. By doing this, you accept them as they are without inflating their egos.
And then, teach children how to recognize kindness and empathy. Encourage cooperation. To instill sensitivity, explain how to recognize when others have hurt feelings.
In conclusion, narcissistic children need not grow up with an inflated ego, if you consciously avoid the habits that nurture one.
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