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Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a psychological condition in which a person believes he or she is better than everyone else. Narcissism is often associated with adults, but the early stages of the disorder can begin in childhood. Mothers who are concerned that their daughters may be narcissistic should be on the lookout for classic early warning signs. Some signs that can be indicative of a narcissistic daughter are social issues, abnormally high self-pride and the inability to take responsibility for mistakes.
A narcissistic daughter may have trouble getting along with siblings and classmates. While some children may try to change themselves to fit in with a peer group, narcissistic children often believe their own personal habits and fashion sense are better than their peers. This attitude can make other children view the narcissistic child in a negative light. A child with narcissistic tendencies also may have no sympathy or compassion for others. If a friend gets in an argument on the playground or skins a knee and turns to the narcissistic child for help, the friend may receive no empathy or support in return and may not want to continue the friendship.
Parents typically encourage their children to have positive self-esteem, but a narcissistic daughter will take this message to the next level. Young people with narcissistic tendencies can have inflated egos and participate in activities not because they enjoy them, but because they love winning and the corresponding attention. A child who truly has an interest in basketball will continue with the sport even after the disappointment of losing a few games. If a child wants to a quit a sport every time he or she loses so he or she can move onto another activity involving praise, then this can be a sign of narcissism.
Neither young nor old narcissists like to be held accountable. A child who constantly fails tests but blames the teacher or a kid who calls people names and then blames the victim could be suffering from early signs of narcissism. Narcissistic kids also may break rules because they believe they are so perfect that rules do not apply to them.
A mother or father who believes he or she has a narcissistic daughter should set up an appointment with a mental health professional. Many kids go through phases as they learn and grow, and it can be difficult for parents to determine if they are truly dealing with a narcissistic daughter or just a young person who is testing the waters. Counselors and psychologists have questionnaires that can be used to make a proper diagnosis.
Symptoms of a Narcissistic Daughter
Many children mimic narcissistic behaviors such as lack of empathy during arguments, egotistical when they get high praise, and manipulation to get their way.
To get an accurate diagnosis, a pediatrician will recommend a children's psychologist and execute a questionnaire while supervising their behavior over six months. Other personality disorders that resemble NDP are borderline personality disorder (BDP) and histrionic personality disorder.
Symptoms to be aware of in your narcissistic daughter include:
- Arrogance coupled with egotism
- Self-centered and self-serving
- Acting abnormally entitled
- Opportunistic behaviors beyond ambition
- Do not hold eye-contact
- Don't get mad - they get even or vindictive.
- Requires more attention than other children
- Lack of compassion and empathy
- Shows jealous behaviors to others they believe are more important than them
When are Narcissistic Traits Abnormal in Children?
Everyone encompasses narcissistic traits at some point or another in their lives. Children who find it difficult 'fitting in,' controlling themselves and their environment, or are quick to anger are especially narcissistic.
However, the difference between a narcissistic personality disorder and expected behaviors in children is recognized as follows:
The abnormal narcissistic behaviors must be consistent within six months before getting an accurate diagnosis.
Causes of Narcissistic Tendencies in Children
Many studies are trying to prove why a child or adolescence suffers from NDP, and an ongoing argument is whether NDP is taught or natural (genetics vs. environmental). However, many of the assumed causes for NDP in children are:
- Early childhood abuse
- Disproportionate praise or negligent parenting (too much negative criticism)
- Helicopter parenting or obsessive, controlling parents
- A parent with NDP or narcissistic peers
- Excessive expectations (nothing is good enough)
- Genetic anomaly (abnormal or imbalanced brain chemistry)
- When siblings are treated as unequal (one golden child or favorite)
How to Prevent Narcissistic Tendencies from Turning into Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NDP)
Proper treatment for NDP requires ongoing therapy, including cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), psychoanalytic psychotherapy, and sometimes trauma therapy. While therapies may not reverse signs, your child can engage in one-on-one extra-curricular activities where a guide will teach your child empathy, emotional regulation, and other social-friendly behaviors.
Things a parent can do to reverse narcissistic tendencies and behaviors are:
Look Within Yourself
Often, narcissistic tendencies stem from a negligent, possessive, or overly self-centered parent. If a child's parent represents narcissistic behaviors, it is a good idea to seek family counseling or learn self-awareness to understand their own behaviors.
The best way to reverse children's narcissistic behaviors is to create a safe and balanced household. Discipline appropriately, reward efficiently, and avoid possessive or obsessive protective parental behaviors.
Teach More Empathy
Someone who lacks empathy either hasn't been taught, or it doesn't come naturally to them. When your child does something empathetic or thinks with compassion, praise their attitude and explain why their and others' feelings matter.
Make an effort to catch a non-empathetic approach as it's happening and guide your daughter to react differently with a more compassionate approach.
Find Healthy Emotional Outlets
Allow creativity in your home. Some healthy emotional outlets include:
- Drawing or painting (don't make a huge deal, but an appropriate deal)
- Encourage talking about feelings and expressing oneself
- Read books on emotional regulation and empathy
- Encourage extra-curricular activities
- Don't be afraid to show your daughter that you're not perfect either. (be emotional if you need)
Use Balanced Parenting
It's not about how much praise you give your child but how your praise matches the act. Narcissistic tendencies often come from a parent that overpraises the minor achievements while not caring about the significant achievements. The same goes for discipline - always ensure you match the praise or discipline with the act.
Bottom Line: Is My Child a Narcissist?
Narcissistic people are not taught the necessary social activities that most kids go through. If the home is negligent or a sibling gets an unbalanced amount of love, the narcissistic tendencies will turn into NDP.
While many factors contribute to NDP in children, the best way to understand whether your child needs help for their narcissistic behaviors is through ongoing sessions with psychotherapy.