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The following is a repost of my Medical Minute on raising narcissistic children, originally published on April 21, 2013.

The values we instill in our children while they’re young will shape the adults he or she will become.

Photos in this post are shown for illustrative purposes only.

We have all done this: we are shown a photo of a friend’s child, and our initial response is based on the child’s looks (“She’s so cute!”)

We tend to especially favor children who are light skinned with long hair. Any culture that is obsessed with beauty and image breeds narcissism. As a result, most narcissists tend to be very good looking.

Studies show that the sharp rise in narcissism in today’s society is directly linked to the explosion in social media.

Instagram is a narcissist’s playground where the self-obsessed upload their photos to encourage ‘likes’.

In a blog on, sports psychology consultant Nicole Forester referred to social media as an “Epidemic of narcissism”.

“We are each hard-wired with the desire to feel relevant. Everyone wants to feel like they matter and are important. Social media provides this outlet, but also promotes being self-absorbed,” she writes.


The symptoms of narcissism are:

  • Trouble maintaining longterm relationships
  • Becoming easily hurt and rejected
  • Wanting only “the best” of everything (Brand divas)
  • Reacting to criticism with anger (narcissistic rage), shame, or humiliation
  • Taking advantage of others for their own self gain
  • Verbally or mentally abusing others
  • Exaggerating one’s own importance, achievements, and talents
  • Unrealistic fantasies of love (Erotomania), success, beauty, power, or intelligence
  • Requiring constant attention and positive reinforcement from others
  • Becoming jealous easily
  • False feeling of entitlement
  • Punishing others with the silent treatment
  • Lacking empathy and disregard for the feelings of others
  • Being obsessed with self
  • Appearing unemotional or uncaring
  • Being easily bored

  • In addition to these symptoms, narcissists may also display dominance, arrogance, show superiority, and seek power or wealth.

    Psychologists urge parents to refrain from excessively praising their child’s looks. Also, limiting a child’s access to social media is beneficial.

    Watch what you say to small children. Avoid excessive praising of their looks. And ask your friends to avoid praising your child’s looks.

    Remember that children are concrete in their thinking. They don’t have the maturity level to process adult language yet.

    Excessive praise is not just limited to looks; excessively praising a child’s gifts or talents can lead to narcissism as well (think narcissistic celebrities).

    Children typically have a difficult time distinguishing between their actual self (who they actually are) and their ideal self (who they think they are).

    This causes an unrealistic view of themselves. Children who grow up to be narcissists have fractured personalities (unrealistic perception of actual self and ideal self). They are like broken mirrors. We can put the pieces back together again, but the mirror will never be whole.

    Children develop an unrealistic self-view when they receive too much attention or not enough attention from their immediate environment (parents, caretakers, or peers).

    In order for a child to develop a realistic self-view, he or she must receive approval from their environment in balanced and healthy doses.

    Remember that all babies are born narcissistic. But through social interaction with other children (such as in day care), they learn that the world does not revolve around them.

    Children who receive too much praise/attention will develop an unrealistic self-perception, and children who don’t will compensate for that lack of attention.

    Any types of activities that focus on overly praising children can raise narcissistic levels.

    The cause of narcissism is not fully understood, but the following factors can lead to narcissism:

  • An oversensitive temperament at birth
  • Excessive admiration that is never balanced with realistic feedback
  • Excessive praise for good behaviors or excessive criticism for bad behaviors in childhood
  • Overindulgence and overvaluation by parents, other family members, or peers
  • Being praised for perceived exceptional looks or abilities by adults
  • Severe emotional abuse in childhood
  • Unpredictable or unreliable caregiving from parents
  • Valued by parents as a means to regulate their own self-esteem

  • Treatment

    It is unusual for narcissists to seek treatment. When they do, it is probably caused by a narcissistic injury (loss of a relationship or employment) that leaves them feeling depressed or anxious.

    Treatment can be very difficult because narcissists often see themselves as more intelligent or knowledgeable than doctors. Treatment can include therapeutic approaches (anger management, cognitive, behavioral etc. Medication is also prescribed for depression, anxiety, etc.

    This has been your Medical Minute.

    More info on the web

    Narcissistic Personality Disorder in Children – WebMD

    Causes of Narcissistic Personality Disorder in Children – Voices

    Prognosis is Gloomy for Children with Personality-Disordered Parents – Psychology Today

    Preparing the School for Your Child with Narcissistic Personality Disorder –

    Narcissistic Personality Disorder – Wikipedia


    Any medical information published on this blog is for your general information only and is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice. You should not take any action before consulting with your personal physician or a health care provider. and its affiliates cannot be held liable for any damages incurred by following information found on this blog.