From time to time an event occurs that makes you evaluate how you are doing as a parent, well a recent event has me questioning whether I am creating a narcissistic child. Last week was spirit week at my son’s school. Everyday had a theme from Favorite Team Day to Crazy Hat Day. So I ran around (purchasing items) making sure my little guy would be appropriately dressed for each day all while the hubby sat back and observed. Finally on Thursday night when I came back from Wal-Mart at 10 o clock at night to find MORE red for Field Day, my hubby asked me “why are you doing all this?” After the words came out of my mouth I immediately knew not only did I sound crazy, but I may be doing my son a disservice. My response was “I want him to look cool and not feel left out”.
Before you try to help me decide if I am indeed creating a narcissistic child or not let me give you a little back history about me. I have ALWAYS had a weight problem and as a young child I was picked on by family, “friends” and classmates. This is no new story, but for whatever reason whether it was a lack of money, frustration or a form of punishment for being overweight I did not get new clothes as rapidly as my waistline expanded so I frequently wore ill-fitting clothing. The combo of being overweight and wearing clothing that were often too small made for some rough moments in my childhood.
As a parent we all want to shield our children from pain and ridicule and I am no exception to the rule. My son is a very smart, reserved, mild-mannered, respectful and considerate KINDERGARTNER whose also the shortest in his class. While these traits is/will be amazing his classmates can’t quite yet appreciate all that my little man has to offer. So mommy makes sure his outer appearance is just right and gives him 10 times the compliments that should be legally allowed.
Okay, less figure this out. During my self-evaluation I did some research on narcissism and children. I came across a study named The Origins Of Narcissism in Children that stated, “Narcissistic individuals feel superior to others, fantasize about personal successes, and believe they deserve special treatment. When they feel humiliated, they often lash out aggressively or even violently.” So I immediately relaxed as my little guy does not fit the bill at all. I’ve concluded that I simply overcompensate for what I was lacking in my childhood by being too particular about his (actually both my sons) attire and overly highlight their positive attributes to offset any negative experiences they may have out of my care.
Because I am now conscious of what I do, I will make an effort to make sure I do not project my own insecurities and experiences on to my sons. So when Romee woke up on Friday morning I let him select what he wanted to wear to school and he chose a pink shirt and said “some people think pink is just for girls and may make fun of me, but I like it!” He is already displaying that he is aware that some people may not like what he wears or him for that matter and he is ok with that, he is happy with himself. Mommy can learn a lesson or two from this little guy.
I decided to research how to avoid raising a narcissistic child, just to be safe, and found a great article on NY Post with 9 steps that I will use as a guide in the future.
- Say No- A lot of life is being told no and then trying to come up with an alternative plan.
- Teach Them Basic Manners– A lack of manners is the ultimate form of narcissism.
- Teach Them How To Manage Frustration- Teach a kid how to overcome adversity, and you’re also teaching him or her about disappointment, another invaluable life lesson that’s cut off when parents attempt to cocoon their children from anything unpleasant.
- Pull A Louie–There was a fantastic episode of “Louie” a few seasons back where his daughter is enraged because her sister got something that she didn’t.“Listen,” he says. “You’re never gonna get the same things as other people. It’s never gonna be equal. It’s not gonna happen ever in your life, so you must learn that now, OK? The only time you should look in your neighbor’s bowl is to make sure that they have enough. You don’t look in your neighbor’s bowl to see if you have . . . as much as them.”
- Be Kind – To your children and others.
- Travel With Them– Expose theme to different ways of life.
- Love And Approval Are Different– You can love someone while correcting them or being disappointed by their behavior.
- Read To Them– A recent study found that reading fiction helps people improve their empathy, because it encourages them to place themselves in others’ lives and understand their actions.
- Run Errands With Them – The message is that you have to spend a portion of each day doing things that are necessary and that not every activity revolves around kids.