Do you know the 9 symptoms associated with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD)?
This disorder is assigned to someone who meets five or more of the symptoms.
Psychiatrists caution against assigning personality disorders until at least age eighteen. Yet it can’t hurt to watch for tendencies toward symptoms associated with disorders – especially regarding narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).
Of course, before looking too closely at children, parents should examine their own tendencies toward narcissistic behaviors. These attitudes, outlooks and behaviors rarely appear in children without adult examples. They are more commonly modeled by parents for children to emulate.
The parent who always insists on being right or knowing morethan others, should not be surprised if his or her children display the same behaviors. Parents are in higher risk of raising children to be narcissistic when they fail to correct (in their own lives and in their children) behaviors and attidues associated with the symptoms of narcissism.
I am inviting parents to take inventory. A narcissistic life is both personally destructive and harmfully disruptive to relationships.
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 avoid doing things that display these narcissistic ways of thinking and behaving. They are also wise to correct tendencies toward these behaviors in their children.
Overly indulging parents, for example, who jump at every request of a child are actually encourage narcissism. Parents sometimes think this is a way to model servanthood to children. This will more likely teach your children that the world centers on them and their demands. But the world we’re sending them into won’t jump for their every wish.
This kind of overindulgent parenting will only set children up for self-destructive expectations and broken relationships.
- Correcting selfish behaviors and attitudes in our children is an act of true love for your children and for their future relationships.
- Honest words of encouragement and compliment are important for our children. Our children 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 about confidence in public roles, but distorted versions of reality regarding self. Quiet or seemingly shy people can also be narcissistic (hypochondriacs are classic examples).
- The flag of narcissism flies high when people are self-absorbed or self-assertive in arrogant and condescending ways.
- Don’t be the parents who overindulged a child’s sense of personal beauty or talent. This 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 children?
- Are you (as a parent) modeling narcissistic behaviors?
- Do you always have to be right or to know more than others?
Be careful not to overreact in detecting symptoms of narcissism in children. Our common fallen nature has a powerful and deceptive gravitational pull toward narcissistic ways. Yet for the sake of the children and society at large, let’s deal wisely and directly with narcissistic symptoms in ourselves first, then in our children.
There’s a reason why Jesus mandated denial of self as a prerequisite to being his follower. See: Danger of the therapeutic gospel