What does it mean to be a narcissist? The dictionary defines the term as: a person who is overly self-involved, and often vain and selfish. When you see adults who are obsessively self-absorbed you began to wonder how and when they got that way.
If you have ever had the burden of being around a narcissist (yes I had to use the word burden because they wear you down mentally) then you know it is not something you want in your life for long.
Narcissistic people are like emotional vampires. They suck all life, love, and happiness out of you because they are such a drain to be around. We as people are meant to have the balance of give and take however narcissists got the memo that it’s all about the take. They have a warped self-image which leads them to believe everyone was put on this earth to serve them. You know the term, “the earth revolves around you?” Think of a narcissist and you get the picture. They have nothing to give except headaches.
Now that I have your attention, imagine people thinking of your child as an emotional vampire sucking the life and love out of everyone they meet. Does this make you cringe yet? Good, keep reading.
So how do you become a narcissist? Is there some sort of training class you must attend in order to be included in the Narcissists-R-Us club?
Bad news is narcissism starts early.
Good news is you as a parent can totally prevent it.
As a recovering narcissist, I can tell you it definitely starts and ends with the parents. How you raise your child and the signals you send them will make a huge impression on their self-image.
Too much of anything is an addiction so therefore maintaining a healthy balance is essential to a healthy self-image and self-esteem.
Do you know whether or not you are raising a narcissistic child? Or Lord forbid―more than one of them?
Ask yourself the following questions:
Do you rarely tell your child the truth about their behavior?
Do you overly criticize your child?
Do you think your child is better than other children?
Do you praise your child simply for making an effort?
Do people dislike being around your child?
If you have answered yes to any of the above, sorry to say you are raising a child who will become a narcissistic adult that no one wants to be around. Or worse, they are a narcissistic child that no one wants around.
So how do you prevent your child from being a narcissist? Here are some tips that will help you in the event that you are raising a narcissist and want to get on the right track.
Be truthful about behaviors. I cannot stress this enough to parents. Just because you try to ignore, lie about, and make excuses for your child’s behavior does not make you a good parent. This is not helping your child or anyone around them so if you know they have problematic behaviors, tell the truth about it. You cannot heal anything if you are trying to conceal it.
Set realistic expectations. Too much of anything is not a good thing so just like trying to ignore the behavior is bad, so is overly criticizing. You cannot be too harsh on a child’s behavior, especially when you as the adult allowed it to begin with. So set realistic expectations for your child’s behavior. If you know that they are pronged to have a tantrum everyday then instead of saying, “no tantrums ever” say something like, “I see your tantrums last about 30 minutes so let’s see how we can reduce them down to 20 minutes” then once that goal is achieved work towards another one until you eliminate the behaviors.
Acknowledge effort, praise execution. Here’s another area parents get confused. Do NOT praise efforts as you are sending the wrong kind of message to your child that they will have to un-learn later in life. For example, if you have a child who doesn’t like to pick up after they have made a mess, don’t praise them for picking up only one toy off the floor when they have an entire room of toys they need to put away. Acknowledge them by saying something like, “oh I see how well you picked up one of your toys now let’s see how fast you can clear the floor of your toys.” Then sit back and watch them do it. Praise them ONLY after they have completed the task. This shows them that although you acknowledged their efforts you will only praise them when they complete the task and follow through.
Teach your child to give. When you teach your children how to give to others this sends a message that everything is not about them. If you want others to want to be around your child, teaching them to share and give is essential.
For more tips on how to raise happy children feel free to grab a copy of my eBook, “A Parent’s Guide to Raising Happy Children Who Excel in Life.”