How To Deal With A Child With Narcissistic Personality Disorder

How To Deal With A Child With Narcissistic Personality Disorder


We get a lot of requests from you –the
viewers of Live On Purpose TV. Here’s a new one: “Dr. Paul, will you make a video
on how to deal with a child with narcissistic personality disorder?” I’ve
got you. I think I understand where this question is coming from. Because I’ve
worked with children for my entire career. I’ve worked with parents for
almost 30 years now as a psychologist. And the place we need to start with this
particular question is to clear up the difference between narcissism or
narcissistic traits and narcissistic personality disorder. First of all, the
roots of this name goes clear back to Greek mythology where Narcissus was so
taken with his own reflection. He fell in love with himself and that’s where
narcissism comes from. Where you’re so in love with yourself that you ignore other
people or their needs or the impact that you have on them, children do this as
part of their natural development. I don’t want to confuse today narcissistic
personality disorder, which is a very specific diagnostic category, with
narcissistic traits or tendencies which are common and expected really in a
normal course of development. So, let’s talk about both. And then toward the end,
I want to give you four specific things that you can do as a parent if your
child is showing a lot of these traits. I’m going to read to you from the
diagnostic system what narcissistic personality disorder is. So, listen up.
Narcissistic personality disorder or NPD is a personality disorder with long term
pattern of abnormal behavior characterized by exaggerated feelings of
self-importance an excessive need for admiration and a lack of empathy. People
affected by it often spend a lot of time thinking about achieving power or
success or about their appearance. They often take advantage of the people
around them. Okay, sounds like somebody you know, probably,
right? This only becomes a disorder if it is
more than we would normally expect to see in typical human behavior. The things
that I just listed for you, self-importance, okay? A need for
admiration from others, a lack of empathy. We’re going tO see that probably even in
ourselves from time to time. So, don’t get worried about having narcissistic
personality disorder or someone that you know having this especially if they’re
young. Because I want to hit this next part with you as well. Check out this
part. Narcissistic personality disorder usually develops in adolescence or
during early adulthood. It is not uncommon for children and adolescents to
display some traits similar to those of NPD. But such occurrences usually are
transient and do not meet the criteria for a diagnosis of NPD. Translation: Your
child doesn’t have NPD –narcissistic personality disorder. There are traits
and characteristics. Again, I’ll come back to those in just a minute. Let’s not make
the error of diagnosing children with NPD. It’s something that happens in later
adolescence, early adulthood and then it’s characterized by a long-term
pattern. So, when we see those patterns emerging, there’s things that we can do.
And I think I’ll shift the focus of this video over to handling narcissistic
traits or behaviors rather than the disorder. Which I personally would
reserve for older people, not children. What I’m saying here also applies to the
other personality disorders like antisocial personality disorder,
borderline personality disorder, histrionic Personality Disorder. These
are things that develop into a characterological pattern. And we don’t
even really call it a disorder until at least late adolescence, if not,
young adulthood. I did another video on what is “Antisocial personality disorder?”
you can link to that right up here in this corner of the frame. Cue it up.
You’ll get some more information about the personality disorders as you watch
that video. Now, what can we do about it if we see some narcissistic traits?
Here’s what I would suggest: I’ve picked out four from a blog post by Christine
Hammond that appeared on psych Central’s website. In this blog post, she hit
several different points. These are the 4 that I liked the best. Number 1, minimize entitlement. Entitlement is that feeling or sense
that the world owes me something. And in our kids, it’s often that the parents owe
me something. Entitlement is a destructive thought pattern because it
puts people in a position where they don’t understand the value exchange
that’s necessary to receive something that you want. I like to teach kids, “Yeah
you can have anything you can afford.” Now, I put it in those words because there’s
an exchange necessary. The world doesn’t owe them anything. And your kids… Let’s
just talk about your kids for a minute. Your kids have more than they deserve.
Now, I believe that every kid deserves a good life with parents who love them no
matter what and even if. When I say they don’t deserve it, I mean that under their
own power, they don’t have the resources to live the kind of life that you are
providing for them. Is that true? Yeah, that’s true if you’re providing a place
for them to live. Because kids don’t have the resources to do that on their own. Do
they? No. Well, because kids are receiving all of this stuff from you for
free, they can develop entitlement. That’s what we need to watch out for. There’s a
lot of ways to help kids with this. And I think some of the other videos here on
the positive parenting playlist will give you some ideas
about that. Let’s move on to the second one that I got from the blog post. A
troubling aspect of narcissistic traits or characteristics is a lack of empathy.
So, the next thing we want to do as parents is to teach empathy. Empathy has
2 important components to it that you understand and care how someone else
feels. I think both of those components are really important. The understanding
obviously helps you to connect with another person. And caring is probably
the main thing that’s lacking in narcissistic personality disorder.
Let’s give our kids opportunities to connect with other people in ways that
they can see understand and care how they feel. The next tip that came from
the blog post is to avoid rescuing. This is something that I like to teach a lot.
I remember having a conversation years ago with Jim Fay when I was doing a
special podcast just for parents. And Jim was my guest on the show. He’s one of the
founders of the love and logic approach. And Jim shared with me that there’s 3
R’s of parenting that we need to avoid. The 3 R’s of parenting? What are those?
He explains rant, rave and rescue. This is where you ball them out and you bail them
out. Narcissistic personality disorders are characterized by a lack of
appreciation about how our own behavior impacts the world and others around us.
When we don’t rescue our children from the natural consequences of their
choices, it actually empowers them to see the world in a more truthful way. When we
rescue them, it sends the wrong message. It sends the message that, “Oh, well you’re
probably not capable of handling all the stuff in your life. Let me as the
all-powerful parent come in and just save you from all that.” Now, I exaggerated
it so that you would be a little repulsed. Did it work? You don’t want to be in that position
as a parent. You want your kids to understand that their behavior matters.
So, when they make a mistake and there’s a consequence that is forthcoming, don’t
rescue them from the consequence. Let it fall. You know as we come to the fourth
point that I promised you. I’ll put a little context around this as well.
Narcissism is basically an unhealthy level of self-love. And it’s not even
really love. It’s based in insecurity. It’s based in trying to always obtain
external approval for what’s going on inside. So, this fourth tip is probably
the most powerful one. Show unconditional love. You remember your job as a parent
is to love your children no matter what and even if. That’s your job. Showing your
child unconditional love means that they don’t have to earn your love. And this is
one of the risk factors for a narcissistic personality problem. In
other words to depend on the external validation from others. It’s really a
conditional acceptance approval or even love that they desperately are trying to
avoid. And that’s what develops into a personality disorder quite often. So, show
that unconditional love. That’s your job to love them no matter what
and even if. Parenting can get kind of tricky. Especially when it comes to
topics like these. If you would like to have a free breakthrough call with me or
one of our certified coaches, go to the description and click on the link that
will take you to DrPaul Jenkins.com /breakthroughcall. We look
forward to having a personal conversation with you.

11 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I only clicked on this because the title bothered me. I didn't think kids could be diagnosed with NPD so was glad to hear you say that is the case.

  2. I was wondering if you could further discuss the personality traits of a child who feels and cares SO much that if he upsets someone or hurts someone in anyway it deeply hurts himself, he’s also very sensitive to sound and light. He doesn’t have autism, he’s just super sensitive.

    That is probably THE hardest thing to do is to let my child fall or fail ?.

    When I was a child the abuse and neglect was more than a human should ever have to endure, so my 7 year old son gets coddled immensely because of the monsters I was exposed to at an early age.

    But, in the same sense the feed back I have from others about how “perfect” my child is, is great. He excepts the word no, he excepts when he’s in the wrong, I know most parents think their children are perfect but truly my child is PERFECT! A sweetheart, he never even had terrible twos! He’s never even had a public meltdown! He’s literally a mini adult that makes normal child mistakes that he corrects on a daily basis.

  3. Please do a video about my son's extreme anger problems. He hits me and yells. When I explain to him not to talk to me like that, he screams louder. He says he hates me and I'm mean on a daily basis when I try to discipline him or explain he can't act like that. Yesterday he fell and slipped and I made an offhand comment of, "That's why we shouldn't run in here," and he started hitting me repeatedly, yelling at me, and calling me 'mean.' This was in a public place surrounded by other moms and kids so you could imagine my embarrassment. I know he was embarrassed he fell but this reaction seemed unwarranted. He is almost 6. I thought I was always a very loving parent but when he acts like this so often it's hard. I've tried reward systems and taking things away. Nothing seems to work

  4. Dr Paul You seem to be the most reasonable psychologist I've ever listened to. I live in Poland. I wonder if You could make a video on how to deal with a narcisistic husband in a court. He leaved us 4 years ago in a meantime he was prescribed Depakine Chronosfere by a psychiatrist which he refused to take and for 2 years he claims to have psychotherapy. He has recently filed for the custody. What can I do to prevent him from using our daughters as a tool to destroy me. I'd rather prefer to be destroyed by him without the kids involved. However I know its less probable beacause he exactly knows that our kids are my highest concern. Although Polish legal system differs from American I believe You can give me some universal advice how to reveal the Truth about sb who claims that he never makes mistakes, treats people as objects of manipulation and is very convincing when he lies.
    Sorry for mistakes.

  5. babies have to be like that for survival, but it is up to us then as they get older to be empathetic and think about others. Always good stuff !!!!

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