There is no denying that there are some children out there in this world who are narcissists but when it comes to why they ended up that way, things get a bit confusing. Narcissism isn’t as cut and dry as some people make it out to be and well, the more you understand it the better.
When it comes to why some kids turn out to be narcissists, a lot of things come out to play. No one factor holds the entire weight of this concept. That all having been said, how the child is parented, does play a big role. For instance, if the child is taught that love is conditional, they are placed on a pedestal or idealized in general, things can get narcissistic pretty quickly.
PNAS published as follows under the title ‘Origins of narcissism in children’:
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. Unfortunately, little is known about the origins of narcissism. Such knowledge is important for designing interventions to curtail narcissistic development. We demonstrate that narcissism in children is cultivated by parental overvaluation: parents believing their child to be more special and more entitled than others. In contrast, high self-esteem in children is cultivated by parental warmth: parents expressing affection and appreciation toward their child. These findings show that narcissism is partly rooted in early socialization experiences, and suggest that parent-training interventions can help curtail narcissistic development and reduce its costs for society.
Psychology Today has written before on this topic and weighed in noting that there are three main factors when it comes to a child becoming narcissistic overall. Those three factors being nature, nurture, and fate. I know, they’re a bit open-ended but stick with me. Nature on this one would be something the child is born with, part of their personality I guess you could say.
Nurture and fate on the other hand are a bit different. Nurture, of course, is how the child is brought up and the way he/she is treated. But, fate is unintended. These would be the things that happen to that child that we have no control over, the things that these kids go through at crucial ages that we can’t stop or sometimes don’t even know about.
All in all, we don’t completely understand narcissism in children, but we have a good idea of things and as you can see, it does all make sense. What do you think about this? Have you ever met a child narcissist?