Do you know the 9 symptoms associated with narcissistic personality disorder?
Psychiatrists caution against assigning personality disorders to people until at least age eighteen.
I understand the wisdom in caution, but it can’t hurt to watch for tendencies toward behaviors associated with such disorders.
This is especially true regarding symptoms associated with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). But before looking too closely at children, parents must examine their own tendencies toward narcissistic behaviors.
I am convinced that some parents model narcissistic attitudes and behaviors without knowing it.
The parent, for example, who always insists on being right or knowing more than others should not be surprised if his or her children display the same behaviors.
Other parents actually raise children to be narcissistic by failing to correct behaviors associated with the nine symptoms of narcissism.
So I am inviting parents to take inventory. A narcissistic life is personally destructive and particularly disruptive to a good society.
Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is assigned to someone who meets five or more of the following symptoms:
- A grandiose sense of self-importance (expects to be recognized as superior; is angered when not recognized)
- Preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
- Believes that he or she is special and unique (can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people or institutions).
- Requires excessive admiration (craves attention)
- A very strong sense of entitlement, (strong expectations of favorable and special treatment; demands compliance with his or her expectations)
- Exploitative of others, (takes advantage of or uses others to achieve his or her own ends — will even exploit people who should be appreciated)
- Lacks empathy, (unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others where it conflicts with his or her agenda)
- Is often envious of others (resentful toward the achievements of others who outshine him or her; and believes that others are envious of him or her)
- Regularly shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes (must be the most important person who knows more and is better than others; desires to be the center of attention)
Parents should correct tendencies toward these behaviors and avoid doing things that encourage narcissistic ways of thinking.
Parents who overly indulge their children by jumping at every request actually encourage narcissism.
Some of these parents wrongly think this is how one should be a good parent. They fail to appreciate how the world their children must live in won’t revolve around them or jump for them.
This kind of overindulgent parenting will only set children up for self-destructive expectations and broken relationships.
God calls parents to firmly correct selfish behaviors and attitudes in their children. This is an act of true love for your children and for society.
- Honest words of encouragement and compliment are important for our children. Our children also need to know that we are confident in them.
- Help your children see themselves as valuable beings made in God’s image.
- Encourage your children in their gifts and strengths but always in context of humble appreciation toward the Giver of our gifts.
- Challenge your children to use their gifts and abilities to help others.
- Be careful not to wrongly judge self-confident people as narcissistic. Narcism is not so much about confidence in public roles, but whether one holds distorted versions of reality regarding themselves. Quiet or seemingly shy people can also be narcissistic (hypochondriacs are classic examples).
- When people are self-absorbed or self-assertive in ways that involve arrogance and condescending attitudes toward others, the flag of narcissism is flying high.
- Don’t be like the parents who overindulged a child’s sense of personal beauty or talent in a way that distorts reality. This approach will lead to self-deception, narcissism and social dysfunction. It’s also a sure path to marital misery!
Questions worth asking
- Are you encouraging narcissistic symptoms in your parenting?
- Are you (as a parent) modeling narcissistic behaviors?
- Do you always have to be right or to know more than others?
We should not overreact in detecting symptoms in our children. Our common fallen nature has a gravitational pull toward narcissistic behaviors. But we must confront narcissistic attitudes and behaviors in our own lives and in our children.
See also: Humility – not an emotion