Creating Narcissism: How Your Parenting Could Lead Your Child to Addiction

It’s a complaint that many people make about the younger generation(s) – that they are self-obsessed and entitled to the point of being narcissistic. Certainly it is not true of every young person, but it is a troubling trend. However, recent research has suggested that narcissism is actually taught to children by parents who over value their children.

In a recent study reported in the LA Times, researchers interviewed 565 children between the ages of 7 and 12, and their parents. Interviews were conducted every six months over a period of 18 months. As part of these interviews, children were given the “childhood narcissism scale” and parents received the “parental overvaluation scale.” Parents who overvalued their children, who believed their children were inherently “better” or “more deserving” than other children raised children who scored higher on the narcissism scale. Parents who were loving but did not overvalue their children raised children who had solid levels of self-esteem.

The LA Times reported:

“When children are seen by their parents as being more special and more entitled than other children, they may internalize the view that they are superior individuals, a view that is at the core of narcissism,” the researchers conclude in the paper.

“When children are treated by their parents with affection and appreciation, they may internalize the view that they are valuable individuals, a view that is at the core of self-esteem.” 

The good news is that narcissism is not a lifetime sentence. “When you are narcissistic at one time in life, you’re not destined to be narcissistic decades later.”

Many people mistakenly confuse narcissism with addiction, because Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and addiction have symptoms that include many of the same traits. However, people who have issues with feeling self-important and entitled, and the world subsequently “wrongs” them by not living up to their expectations, may turn to alcohol, drugs or other forms of addiction to self-soothe. Teaching your child that s/he is inherently superior to others can lead them to addiction or other mental health issues later in life.

The children we love are precious. They each have unique traits and are worthy of our mentorship, time, and devotion. Love your children with all your heart, but recognize that even the best among them have imperfections and areas in which they can grow. Doing this will help your children develop healthy self-esteem.