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How Parents Create Narcissists (Parents Guide)

Do parents unintentionally contribute to the development of narcissistic attributes in their children? It's a thought-provoking question that deserves attention, and surprisingly the answer is yes.

Parents hugely influence children's personalities and their certain behaviors can foster egoistic habits in kids.

In this article, we will explore how parents create narcissists. We will discuss parenting style can have intended consequences on the psychological development of the child.

However, don't worry; we will not leave you hanging there. We'll also provide practical strategies to help you raise a confident, mindful, and sympathetic child.

So, if you want an answer to how parents' behavior shapes a child's narcissistic personality, keep on reading. Let's delve into this complex subject and discover how we can nurture healthy, well-rounded individuals while avoiding the creation of narcissists.

How Parents Create Narcissists


In This Article


What is Narcissism?

What does narcissism mean? What behavior do narcissistic persons show? It's a personality disorder in which "an individual exhibits an excessive interest in themselves".

They usually think of themselves as great and show a lack of compassion toward others' feelings. A selfish person wants continuous attention and appreciation from others.

Let's say there's a person who constantly brags about their achievements and expects others to praise them. They believe they are best at everything and that there's no one like them.

They rarely show empathy or understanding towards others' problems and tend to manipulate situations to get benefitted. We can say they are egoistic as self-centered behavior and the need for constant admiration are typical traits of narcissism.

Furthermore, narcissism is not just about having confidence or taking pride in one's accomplishments. It becomes problematic when individuals consistently put their needs above others, behavior kindness, and seek validation.

A Girl Holding Crown in Her Hands

Early Signs and Traits of Narcissism

During the early years of development, children typically show selfish lack as part of their natural growth process. However, parents need to differentiate between healthy self-focus and the narcissistic nature of their kids.

Signs of narcissism in children may include:

  • Excessive need for attention and admiration

  • Lack of empathy for others' feelings

  • Difficulty in forming meaningful relationships

  • Sense of entitlement and superiority

  • Manipulative behavior to meet their own needs

Also, you should know that not all self-centered behaviors in children indicate narcissism. Some developmental milestones, such as forming a personality and asserting freedom can temporarily lead to self-focus.

However, if these behaviors remain and deepen with time, it may be an indication of narcissism.

How Parents Create Narcissists

Different factors in parenting result in the growth of narcissistic child personalities. Let's discover some key aspects that provide insight into how parents create narcissists.

Mother and Daughter

Unrealistic Expectations and Excessive Praise

False hopes and overpraising from parents can unexpectedly contribute to the development of egotism. It's normal for parents to recognize the achievements of their children and encourage them.

However, when parents excessively glorify their accomplishments, they create a sense of authority and inflated ego in kids.

According to a study published in Psychology Blog,

Overvaluing parents overclaim their child’s knowledge, overestimate their child’s IQ, and overpraise their child’s performances, while directing their child to stand out from others by giving him or her an uncommon first name. Over time, this socialization practice may lead children to internalize the view of themselves as superior individuals, which is at the core of narcissism.

For instance, you're constantly telling your child that they're best at everything and praising them even when they haven't exerted that much effort.

It will lead to confidence where they perceive themselves as superior to others. The child will seek constant validation and admiration, ultimately forming selfish traits.

Negligence of Emotional Needs

Are you a parent who neglects their kid's emotional needs? If so, it's another factor that results in narcissism. To build sympathy and healthy self-esteem, children need an emotional bonding with their parents.

When parents fail in providing that emotional support or consistently reject their child's sentiments, It can develop a sense of idleness or an inability to understand others.

For instance, your little one expresses sadness or frustration over something, and you let go of their feelings by saying words like, "Stop being so sensitive" or "You're overreacting". Such behavior can make children feel unheard and disconnected from their perceptions.

Lack of Boundaries

Parents who don't set clear boundaries for their children may unwittingly nurture a sense of entitlement and a lack of affection. They don't teach their kids about the significance of responsibility, respect, and consideration for others, which makes it difficult for kids to handle and understand social interactions.

Let's say your child consistently interrupts others during conversations without any reason, they may grow up believing that their opinions and needs are important to those of others. This lack of boundaries can cause selfishness and a disregard for others' feelings and limits.

Conversely, setting clear and consistent boundaries helps children develop a sense of respect for themselves and others. It teaches them the importance of compromise, empathy, and maintaining healthy social relationships.

Modeling Narcissistic Behavior

Do you know children observe and imitate their parents' behavior? If parents show self-obsessed traits, like prioritizing their needs over their child's, seeking admiration, or lacking kindness. It majorly impacts the child's idea of self-respect and healthy relations.

Imagine a child who grows up seeing their parents always belittling them or using a manipulative approach to maintain control. As a result, children adopt similar actions.

The child starts to believe that this is how relationships should be carried out, continuing the cycle of narcissistic characteristics.

How to Break the Cycle of Narcissism - Some Practical Strategies for Parents

Can parents prevent narcissistic behavior in their kids? Absolutely. By applying some useful strategies, parents can help their child grow into an empathetic individual rather than developing an egoistic personality.

Here are some of those strategies that you need to consider.

A Happy Child

Cultivate Empathy

Empathy is a crucial skill that assists children in gaining a better understanding of others' perspectives and emotions. You can boost compassion by promoting acts of kindness and teaching your kids to understand how their actions affect others.

Let's say your child notices their friend feeling sad, you can encourage them to offer a comforting gesture and lend a listening ear. Children evolve as compassionate and considerate individuals when raised this way.

Set Clear Boundaries

Boundaries are vital in creating healthy relationships and teaching children respect for others. You can set clear boundaries by discussing and enforcing rules that promote mutual respect and consideration.

You can provide guidelines to your kids for sharing toys with siblings and taking turns during playtime. When you teach kids the importance of having boundaries, they start to understand that everyone's needs and feelings should be valued.

Provide Constructive Feedback

While it's important for parents to praise kids, providing valuable feedback also holds significance. When your child faces failure or setbacks, you can offer guidance and support, helping them understand that mistakes are growth opportunities.

For instance, if your child gets a low grade on a test, instead of criticizing them, discuss the areas that need improvement and urge them to try again.

By teaching children to accept and learn from failure, parents nurture strength and a healthier understanding of success.


1. At what age does narcissism develop in children?

Children's development of narcissistic traits can vary. While certain signs may show up in early childhood, the full manifestation of narcissistic personality disorder occurs in adolescence or early adulthood. Furthermore, it's crucial to mention that not all children demonstrating narcissistic traits will develop the disorder.

2. What is the typical childhood of a narcissist?

The lack of emotional validation, conditional love, and an emphasis on external achievements are key attributes often found in the childhood experiences of narcissists. They might have been raised in a setting where their parents prioritized their desires. This could have led to a feeling of neglect or the constant need for attention.

3. What are the common traits of children with narcissistic parents?

Children who narcissistic parents raise may demonstrate attributes like:

  • Feeling entitled

  • Lacking empathy

  • Constantly craving admiration

  • Having grandiose perceptions

  • Difficulty in accepting criticism

However, approaching these traits with empathy and understanding is important. Their upbringing is often the cause rather than inherent flaws.

4. What is the root cause of narcissism in children?

Narcissism in children commonly arises from the combination of genetic bias, environmental factors, and parenting styles. Although genetics may be a factor, the importance of parenting and early childhood experiences cannot be overlooked in the development of narcissistic characteristics.

Takeaway from Sheasmother

Understanding how parents create narcissists is crucial when addressing and preventing the development of narcissistic behaviors in children. Parental influence, modeling selfish behaviors, emotional neglect, lack of boundaries, and unrealistic expectations all play significant roles.

By promoting sympathy, providing valuable feedback, and setting boundaries, parents can help their children nurture healthier self-identities and build meaningful relationships. Ultimately, it's through awareness and proactive parenting that parents can break the cycle of narcissism and promote the emotional well-being of their offspring.

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