Raising a child who thinks too highly of themselves can be mentally taxing for parents. A child who thinks they are overly special and is obsessed with their own accomplishments, beauty, and personality may find themselves hindered later in life. According to research, close to six percent of the population may be dealing with this extremely self-centered mental illness.
Parents who feed into the extreme self-esteem seen in narcissistic children only send their children deeper into the disorder. As the next generation comes of age, we will see more children who feel entitled to special positions and privileges. Instead of allowing your child to believe that the world revolves around them, start doing these four things today.
Hand out specific praise.
The odds are that you don’t love absolutely everything about your child. They have quirky habits and idiosyncrasies, just like every other human being on the planet. You aren’t a bad parent simply because you don’t love your child’s every action. However, it’s crucial that you don’t accidentally reinforce these annoying gestures by giving blanket praise for everything they do.
Instead, parents should offer specific praise for things their child does well. Consider giving them a compliment about how attentive they were during their baseball game instead of a more generic “great job.” Your child will learn which actions are most important to you and see a self-esteem boost for a valid reason.
Teach your child how other people feel.
One of the main struggles for narcissistic children is understanding the emotions of their peers and family members. They are so wrapped up in thoughts of themselves that they often can’t imagine the ways that they are unintentionally slighting others. As a result, their relationships suffer deeply.
Pay careful attention to your child’s interactions with peers. When you notice something wrong during a playdate, make sure you speak up. Explaining how others may feel in a situation helps a narcissistic child to develop empathy and deepen their relationships.
Don’t play the comparison game.
A narcissistic child is often very concerned with how they stack up against others. Parents may unknowingly feed into this silent competition by comparing their child’s skills with classmates or family friends. Don’t allow your child to use the performance of others to establish their own sense of self-worth.
Instead, your specific praise should only be about your child’s performance or actions. You wouldn’t want to tell them that they had a way better goal than their teammate Sally, the girl who seems to have two left feet. Teach your child that they are a good person, regardless of how others around them compare.
Help your child to take responsibility.
Narcissistic children often have a hard time taking responsibility for their own actions, particularly negative ones. Teaching this skill can be challenging for parents who are tempted to solve all of their child’s problems more efficiently. When kids lose the opportunity to right their own wrongs, you reinforce the idea that they are overly special and deserve only the best outcomes.
Next time you become tempted to sweet talk your child’s English teacher into a higher grade, put the responsibility back on your child. A child who wants a better grade needs to ask for extra credit or rewrite a paper all on their own. Parents can’t teach children that the world will be handed to them on a silver platter.
Raising a narcissistic child requires parents to really consider each word they speak to their kids. You want to teach them early on to work for the things they want. Without this necessary skill, they feel entitled to have good things happen to them simply because of who they are instead of what they are capable of. Parents can help the situation by encouraging their children to take responsibility for their actions and develop their skills with these simple practices.