How NOT to Raise a Narcissist

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Don't let your kid get all wrapped up in herself. Change undesirable behaviors before it's too late.

Recently, a study conducted by the University of Amsterdam and Ohio State University found that narcissists are largely bred, not born. Researchers said, “Narcissism in children is cultivated by parental overevaluation: parents believing their child to be more special and more entitled than others.” With the release of this information, however, parents can actually learn to take steps to prevent the unleashing of more little egoists in the world.
    Michele Borba, author of The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries (Josie Bass; 2009) says there is no gene for a “spoiled kid.” Borba says self-centeredness is a learned behavior so we only have ourselves to blame if we feel our kids are in the self-centered category. Unattractive behaviors are easy to learn, though, so Borba suggests that parents every so often push the pause button on parenting to consider the everyday response of their kids. If you’re not happy with what you see, try changing things up a bit so you can raise a well-rounded kid.

7 Ways Not to Raise a Little Egoist

  1. Say no.
    It’s fine to tell your kids no, especially when they’re doing something that can hurt them or someone else. Teach them how to handle NO before they don’t know how to accept it at all.
  2. Teach manners.
    There’s no reason for rudeness except for selfishness. Lack of manners signals to the world that everybody else is not worthy and that the only thing that matters is your own comfort.
  3. Teach how to manage frustration.
    The buzzword of the moment is “grit,” or the ability to confront failure and to learn from it. Studies have found that grit is one of the best indicators of later happiness in adults. When you teach your child to overcome disappointment, you actually give him a great gift.
  4. Be kind.
    YOU, that is. YOU need to be kind to other people if you expect your child to be kind to others. This may seem painfully obvious, but it’s worth remembering in our hopped-up social-media driven world.
  5. Travel together.
    Change the scenery. Travel with your kids to other places where they can see how other people live. Take them to “lesser” places, too. Nothing teaches a kid more than to see that not everyone lives the way they do.
  6. Know that love and approval are different.
    Yes you should love your kids unconditionally, but that doesn’t mean you need to praise everything they do. 
  7. Let them work for things.
    Not all of life is fantastic and wonderful. They should help you clean out the garage. They should walk the dog, take out the trash, clean the bathroom and anything else you need help with. We all have to spend time each day doing things that feel more like “work.” That’s what makes “down” time so much more special.

Susan Swindell Day is the editor in chief of Nashville Parent and the mom of four amazing kids.

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