14 November 2011

Spirited Narcissist (Narcissistic Spirit?)


So, I think we've got young David figured out. The answer has been within grasp for a while though I've checked out a lot of possibilities and read through many books and blogs and articles to come to this point. Even up to late last week I thought he might have Asperger's Syndrome. I don't think that now but I am fairly certain I know one or two adults with undiagnosed AS.

I still believe he's spirited but I believe that many of the problems that we have been dealing with over the past year are due to narcissism. He's a Narcissistic Child. *

Narcissism is defined as an excessive preoccupation with the self, a constant need for attention and an inability to recognize the feelings and emotions of others. 

Behavior that focuses primarily negative ways of getting the needs of the self met without regard to others is called narcissistic.

The child with narcissistic behavior may not have had his basic needs met when he was young. The mother may not have had the capacity to support the ego-emerging aspects of the child. She may not have been available either emotionally or physically during this important developmental period of his life. Around the age of two, children learn to separate from their mother and develop an independent sense of self. Deprivation of the child's needs during the period of his life can result in ego fixation and developmental arrest.

Spoiled and overindulged children sometimes are at risk for the narcissistic behavior pattern of wanting to control others.

Oh boy...this is definitely our boy! He is not being spoiled or overindulged currently but I am fairly certain that he was overindulged in his previous life.

I know I've joked in the past about him possibly having NPD  (he's a little young for that diagnosis) but if he had continued on that path he was on, I am certain he'd have ended up with full blown NPD. And he may have a touch of anal-retentiveness or a smidge of OCD, but we can work these things to our advantage. He's a smart boy (very cunning as a matter of fact) and very cute and that probably got him a lot of attention when he moved from place to place for the first 2.5 years of his life.  Short stays in places just until the welcome was worn out and learning much of his behavior along the way.


There are several symptoms that characterize a narcissistic child.
  1. Grandiosity. The narcissistic child believes he possesses exceptional talents or intellect and believes the world revolves around him because of his uniqueness.  This is SO David.
  2. Social Dysfunction.  The child refuses to take responsibility for his actions and shows no remorse when he hurts someone's feelings. He insists on going first in games and bends the rules to suit his needs. His temper will flare if someone tries to beat him at a game and he will quit if he realizes he won't be the winner. He blames others for his mistakes. He lacks empathy for others.  David wants to win at all costs and has resorted to pushing down classmates who are gaining on him in running races. He also makes everything a race with his sister, never mind that she might be unaware that the "race" has already started. One of her favorite sayings these days is "It's not a race, David."
  3. Anti-social behavior. A narcissist child will stretch the truth or tell an outright lie to get out of trouble. He will not admit he has made a mistake and will even blame others for his shortcomings. Due to his sense of entitlement, he has no qualms about stealing and justifies his action if caught. A narcissistic child believes rules don't apply to him and refuses to adhere to limits placed on him. David will blame Aubri for something he did when she is not even in the same room as him.... hmmmmm
Over the past 1.5 years I've noticed that he strives to get that attention from new teachers, our friends, Emi's friends, family members and perfect strangers. A new setting is rife with opportunities for him to manipulate to get that attention that he craves. The problem is that the newness is temporary and that charm wears off and reality sets in - "the world does not revolve around you". This is very upsetting for David as you can imagine.

TIPS/WARNINGS : Beware of idealization. Narcissistic children might praise you to the stars and make you feel like you're the most important thing in their lives. They're apt to devalue you on a dime and turn on you quickly. Don't fall for flattery, but exercise patience and fairness in dealing with the child's behavior.

I see this with David quite a bit. Feels a bit like talking to a used car salesman. "Mom, this is so yummy" before he's even tasted the food. I don't give it much attention and it certainly doesn't get him anywhere. I do point out the silliness of saying something like that when he hasn't yet tasted the food and then we move on. Of course when he gives a genuine compliment I am sure to thank him.


Give praise judiciously. While it is important to recognize accomplishments in your child, making every good deed or action into a reason for a party only causes children to have an unrealistically positive view of their worth. Check! We've always done this. It's ridiculous to praise your kid for every little thing because life is not like that...except maybe on the Martha Stewart show.  

Don't enable the child. While sympathy and understanding are necessary, that doesn't excuse the child from conforming to the same standards applied to the other children. If you make exceptions or excuse the child, it only feeds his sense of entitlement. When handing down a punishment, make sure the child understands why he is being punished and how his actions have consequences. Children develop best in an environment where they have clear and consistent rules, which will foster independence and healthy self-worth. Check!

Speak to the child after appropriate punishment has been meted out. Show him that acting out doesn't get him the things he wants and encourage him to find other ways of seeking his goals.

Teach the child to detach from his emotions and observe himself from an objective perspective. Work towards getting him to take responsibility for his outbursts and accept the consequences, rather than letting him blame it all on other people.

Work on social lessons designed to improve the child's perceptions. Focus on tasks that involve delayed rewards that he must work for rather than instant rewards he thinks he's owed. Use lessons that differentiate between real crises and small ones and lessons that help him identify and understand the emotional states of others.

Encourage the child for exhibiting genuinely good behavior; it helps him to develop a healthier sense of ego.

We've been on the right path all along - meeting his needs and being consistent but old habits die hard. We'll love him through this metamorphosis. The journey IS the reward. (Right?)

* I'm not a doctor and I don't even play one on TV or the Internets...I am just a sometimes exasperated mom who's done much research on how to help my kids become successful, responsible members of society...

1 comment:

  1. I love that you love your kids enough to go deeper into what is going on in their life. You care enought to spend hours researching things to make sure you are doing all you can to make sure your are being the best parent you can be. Your children are truely blessed to have a mom that loves them that much. I will be praying you find the answers you are looking for.



I would love to hear back from my readership (all 2 of you) so please don't be afraid to say "hi" or comment!