Narcissistic Children Are Raised By Parents Who Do These 8 Things

All of us have encountered individuals with narcissistic tendencies in the past. If you’re really unlucky, you’ve had to deal with working with or dating a true narcissist. But how can people end up being narcissists? Since nobody is born that way, what gives them the ability to develop into one as they age? As it turns out, narcissism frequently begins as a toddler.

These are some of the behaviours that parents should avoid in order to prevent raising narcissistic kids.

The 8 Things Parents Do That Raise Narcissistic Children

Parenting is difficult. This essay is not intended to place blame or imply that a child’s development into a narcissistic adult is always or solely the result of their parents. A child’s existence is filled with a variety of influences that shape who they become. However, there are some things that parents can avoid doing in order to prevent unintentionally raising a narcissist. Parents of narcissistic children engage in the following eight behaviours:

1. Overindulgence

Busy father giving pocket money to little narcissitic children daughter with headphones

Narcissistic children are given everything they want, and no one ever says no to them. They don’t learn that other people have needs, too, or that they should be considerate of the feelings of others. It’s fun to indulge your children every once in a while. Be sure, however, that it remains balanced. Just as you shouldn’t say “no” all the time, you certainly shouldn’t give into their every whim and desire. This is especially so when those wants might hurt someone else or make their life more difficult.

2. Excessive focus on the child’s appearance

Teenage girl checking her face and body in the mirror

Good-looking children are praised for their looks and appearance from a very young age. This inherently breeds a focus on the superficial and the feeling that they deserve things simply because society has deemed them attractive. These children are often dressed in designer clothing and made to feel like they’re special because of their looks alone—and not for their personality or accomplishments. While you can’t help it if your child is considered conventionally attractive or not, you can teach them that looks aren’t everything.

Instead of focusing on their looks and making that a reason why they “deserve” something, focus on their actions. Teach them that hard work, being kind, and staying curious about the world has merit. What someone looks like has much less importance as compared to who they are and how they treat others.

3. Allowing the child to dictate their own boundaries and rules

mother and her daughter quarreled

Independence and autonomy are important for children, however, so are boundaries that have been set out by an adult. Narcissistic children are often allowed to make up their own rules and boundaries without any consequences when they break them. Often, they even get rewarded for being selfish or mean. This teaches them that it’s okay for them to do whatever they want with no repercussions. This leads to problems down the road when they grow up and realize that other people have feelings too.

4. Failing to enforce appropriate discipline

Father disciplining his daughter

Narcissistic children lack any sort of respect or empathy for other people or their feelings. They are often spoiled, and they have no respect for others or their property. This can lead to problems later in life when they are expected to be able to work with others in a professional setting.  

5. Not acknowledging their own negative behaviors

Teenage girl in difficult mood with angry mom.

Your children are watching you, listening to what you say, and will mimic your own behavior. If you don’t do some self-reflection on your own actions and behaviors, your children will copy them. For example, how you handle a difficult situation, like poor service at a restaurant or lost luggage at the airport.

React calmly and treat people with respect and your children will learn that this is an appropriate reaction in these situations. Lash out, get upset, yell, and demean the people around you? That’s what they will learn. After all, how can you expect that your child will learn emotional intelligence if you don’t?

6. Not validating your child’s emotions

Loving mother consoling or trying make peace with insulted upset stubborn kid daughter avoiding talk, sad sulky resentful girl pouting ignoring caring mom embracing showing support to offended child

While we’re on the topic of emotional intelligence, let’s talk about emotional validation. Children, especially young children, lack perspective in many situations. What you, as an adult, might understand is not a big deal for them is the end of the world. Ignoring their feelings or telling them what they’re upset about doesn’t matter teaches them that what they feel is wrong. This ultimately teaches them that having emotions is wrong, leading to the development of unhealthy numbing behaviors and other issues.

Instead, when your child expresses a “negative” emotion – anger, sadness, etc. – first mirror them, then validate. Say to them, for example, “It looks like you had a bad day. Would you like to talk about it?”. This shows them that you see them and the emotional state that they’re in; you have validated their feelings and also not made them feel bad about it. Then, you’ve let them know their feelings are worth talking about if they feel ready to do so.

7. Not stopping your child when they’re displaying narcissistic behavior

Cute little funny ballerina girl looking away with annoyed expression, copy space. Adorable little ballerina looking tired and bored at ballet class. Unhappy, angry child concept

Neuroscientist Cody Isabel says that validating your child’s emotions doesn’t mean letting them get away with poor behavior. He uses the example of your child throwing a tantrum in the grocery store. While you don’t want to shame your child, you also don’t want them to think that this is the appropriate way to react, particularly in a public setting. Isabel says to ask them these three questions:

“What happened?” “How are you feeling?” “How do you think your reaction is making the other person (or the people around you) feel?”

This shows that you acknowledge that they are upset and validate your feelings. You then move on to the conversation about how their actions might make others feel, teaching them to think of others and not just themselves, even when they’re upset.

8. Overvaluing your child

Parents try hard to please their son. Parenting style concept

Brad Bushman, a postdoctoral researcher at Holland’s University of Amsterdam, has studied aggression and narcissistic behavior for the last 30 years. With all his research and observations, he says the most harmful belief a person can have is that they are superior to others.

“’Men are better than women, my race is better than your race, my religion is superior to your religion.’ When people believe they’re better than other people, they act accordingly.” he said.

While, of course, you want to encourage your child and show them appreciation and affection, be careful not to put them on a pedestal. Teaching them that they are the best and deserve certain things will often breed lashing out and aggression when they don’t get what they want.

The Bottom Line

Parenting is a tough job. The best thing you can do as a parent is make sure you have done your own work. Being emotionally intelligent yourself is the best step toward raising emotionally intelligent children. Do that, and you won’t have to worry about raising narcissistic children.