Updated: Aug 10
Do you really want your child to be a narcissist?
Probably not, but many of our common practices in the United States may be contributing to the problem and we often let them slip by without question. It's time to question everything and it's time to be aware. Don't feel bad if you've been guilty of some of these things from time to time. We probably all have an occasional lapse of reason and that doesn't make a child a narcissist.
Here's one of my own special embarrassments.
I once went to Target at 5:00 am to wait in line for a chance to get a WI video game (remember those?) for my son's 10th birthday. I heard an inside tip that 5 games were to be delivered that morning and I wanted to get one.
The doors opened at 7, there was a mad rush to the counter and I missed getting a game by one person. My son was probably better off not getting it anyway because they seemed to go out of style the very minute they became readily available and everyone moved on to the next popular game to buy.
Although we all succumb to the desire for popular items from time to time. (OK, I admit, I wanted that video game more for myself than for my son) we all have to guard against materialism the best we can.
But don't let yourself feel ashamed about any parenting choice you make. No one else can fully know your reasons for what you do. Just realize that over time, a combination of several of the following habits could be putting your child at risk for developing narcissistic tendencies.
Be sure to fully incorporate all 7 strategies into your parenting philosophy if you really want to raise a complete narcissist! Have fun!
Deny Them Nothing
It's hard to say no to your children so just don't do it. When they see that flashy toy, make sure you buy it for them right away. It helps if the toys are equipped with many bells and whistles so that your child doesn't have to do much of anything at all be entertained and amazed.
Its OK if the novelty wears off quickly because that way you'll get the opportunity to make them fleetingly happy again even sooner.
If by chance you're one of the precious few parents who want their kids to grapple around, get a little frustrated, and basically feel good about solving their own problems try the "less is more" method of stimulation every once in a while. Your kids might just develop the ability to entertain themselves without you for a change.
Never make them wait.
Take your grade school-aged child to the movie theater late at nite on a weekday because they need to see the "important" movies on the first night they come out. Otherwise, they wouldn't know what everyone else was talking about at school and might feel left out or forced to figure out how to talk about something different.
Make sure to fill up all of their time with structured activities. When there's another adult present, you don't have to be and you don't have to take on the responsibility of carefully training your kids in smart decision making either.
That way, you can relax when they're finally out on their own because you know that you might not have to see them stumble around making the same mistakes they could have made earlier had they been given a little bit more unstructured time to experiment.
Boss them around and never let your own feelings show.
That way they're sure to be good at manipulating others and bad at figuring out what they really need. In other words, they'll be low on empathy. Remember, children do as you do, not as you say! You can read an article I wrote about creating empathy here.
So, punish them and give lots of time-outs because that's easier than teaching them to solve problems. You want to be sure they follow your example. Use force, belittle them and shame them all you can.
Teach them to be tough like you. Don't show them how you feel. Hide any feelings of inadequacy, confusion, exhaustion, anger, sadness, and especially fear. You wouldn't want your kids getting in touch with how they feel and giving up the road to narcissism you've so carefully paved.
Always point out what's wrong with other people.
When you see strangers on the street be sure to find something nasty to say about them because then you'll be teaching your child who and what to avoid in life in order to be accepted. You're also teaching them that it's OK to judge others by the way they look and that they are, themselves, somehow innately superior to other human beings.
Always blame others and hold your child faultless.
Never let them fail if you can help it. That way they won't learn to take responsibility for anything because they'll never be wrong. I'm sure they'll be thanking you for this attitude all the way from divorce court to the unemployment line.
Always take your child's side in every dispute whether it's with a teacher, nanny, counselor or friend. Make sure to threaten others so they won't harm your child in any way. Later, when your child gets in trouble with the law, be sure to always believe in their innocence, even when the facts point to their guilt. Be sure to bail them out and hire them a great lawyer. Once they get out of trouble, they'll probably feel so bad about costing you money they'll never do anything wrong again.
Never give money or time to charities
Don't do anything to help a neighbor who could use a hand because your kids might not know who to help and end up helping everyone. Never give change to a homeless person because you don't know what they'll buy with it.
Never give your child any opportunities to do something good for the world because if they do, they might not have enough for themselves. Don't click here to find out about one of those fun and creative opportunities to give to others that just might keep your kids happily productive for hours.
Give them quality things instead of quality time
Since you'll probably be exhausted from working all the time or working to make your child happy all of the time, you'll find this much easier. Make sure you bring in enough money or go deep enough in debt to buy them tons of toys.
Then stress yourself out entirely to provide them with an expensive house, kept perfectly in order because a cozy, moderate, home would never be good enough for a true narcissist.
And never spend any time just watching them play and enjoying them without teaching or judging. That would be pointless.
I hope this put a smile on your face and helps you feel relaxed for a while. You really do deserve it. If you want more tips and tricks for parents and providers, read my blog here.
If you're interested in learning about my upcoming live, on-line course, Anti-Bullying For Toddlers/Teaching Empathy From The Inside Out, you can join our free community of VIPs (Very Important Parents and Providers) here and be among the first to get a chance to join (class size is limited to 20 participants)
Nanci J Bradley, 60ish, is an early childhood and family educator, author, teacher, SELF-care facilitator, family aerobics instructor, and an all-around fun-loving person. She believes in the power of sleep, healthy eating, lifelong learning and most of all, PLAY! She studied early childhood ed at Triton College and received her BS in education in 1986 from NIU. She received her MA in human development from Pacific Oaks College in 2011. She lives and teaches in Madison WI.