A child’s family dynamic is one of the most important predictors of narcissistic tendencies, including superiority, grandiosity, entitlement, and a lack of empathy, in adulthood, according to me, a neuroscientist who studies narcissistic personality disorder.
To be clear, because their minds are still developing, children and teenagers tend to be more egocentric rather than narcissistic. Therefore, it is normal for them to lack self-awareness until they have mastered crucial abilities like emotional control and empathy.
According to my observations, parents who commit these three detrimental errors are more likely to produce narcissistic children:
1. Failing to acknowledge your own bad habits
Children pick up things by watching and reflecting, so they might imitate your bad habits.
Say a waiter makes a mistake with your order. You humiliate the waiter and yell at him instead of handling the situation diplomatically. Your kid is watching and thinks your response was appropriate.
This is why it’s so crucial to explain and model for your children what emotional intelligence (EQ), particularly the empathy component, looks like.
Getting started by assisting them in identifying their feelings is a good idea. Give the emotion you believe they are feeling a name. For instance, “Do you feel offended or let down by what your friend did?”
By developing their EQ, they will be better able to communicate their emotions and be aware of others’ feelings in the future.
2. Not reflecting or approving of your child’s feelings
You are essentially teaching your children that what they are feeling is wrong if you shame, divert, or ignore their emotions.
They’ll struggle to control their behavior as a result, which can cause a variety of issues as they age, from numbing behaviors like addiction to protective behaviors like grandiosity, which is a common narcissistic trait. Studies have also revealed that the narcissist’s inner self is rooted in shame, insecurity, and fear.
In order to mirror, you must go where your child is and assist them in naming their feelings. By reassuring them that their feelings are valid, you are validating their emotions.
Consider picking up your child from school. They enter the vehicle and slam the door while looking furious. You should mirror their attitude rather than criticize it by saying, “It seems like you had a terrible day at school! What took place?”
After they have explained what occurred, acknowledge them and say, “That’s not nice. I understand your frustration. This does not imply that you concur or disagree with their emotional reaction. You’re merely letting them know that it’s okay to feel the way they do. They’ll become more adept at believing in their emotions with time.
3. Failing to point out your child’s narcissistic actions
Don’t just stand by while your child acts out in front of others because they aren’t getting their way. Intervene. You shouldn’t shame your child in these circumstances, but it’s crucial to remove them from the predicament.
Start by posing these three inquiries:
What took place?
What’s your state of mind?
What do you believe the other person (or the people around you) is feeling as a result of your response?
You are assisting them in developing empathy, social awareness, and emotional regulation skills, all of which are crucial for EQ development, rather than accepting their emotional dysfunction.
How can I recognize narcissistic behaviors in my child? is a common query I receive from parents.
You can take a variety of tests. Ask your child what they believe the characters might be feeling if something bad occurs in a book or movie you are reading together.
Your child’s EQ level is progressing if they respond, “They feel sad or angry.” But you’ll know you have some work to do if they blow up or claim they don’t care how the characters feel.
Consider working with a therapist or counselor who specializes in personality disorders if you’re concerned that your child has narcissistic tendencies but don’t feel you have the skills to help them.
Remember that narcissistic tendencies are frequently learned habits from childhood, and they can be unlearned.