Narcissistic Personality Disorder Traits In Children: A Revealing Scary Truth!

Narcissistic Personality Disorder Traits in Children

Have you wondered about what narcissistic personality disorder traits in children may look like? Picture this: a family sitting around a dinner table, laughing and sharing the day’s stories. The youngest child, barely 12, sits quietly, absorbing the attention but never contributing to the conversation.

Over time, a subtle change occurs; the child begins to dominate discussions, dismisses the opinions of others, and increasingly lacks empathy. What began as mere child’s play starts to resemble something far more complex.

So, what is going on here? Is this typical childhood behavior, or are we witnessing the early signs of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)? More importantly, if it is the latter, what can the family do about it?

When I think about this, I find myself contemplating the thin line between nurturing self-esteem in our young ones and sowing the seeds of narcissism. What are the signs that separate a confident child from a narcissistic one? These are questions that I believe every parent, guardian, or caregiver should ponder deeply.

General Symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder Traits in Children

When we discuss Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), our thoughts often drift toward portrayals in popular culture—characters who are self-absorbed and crave admiration. But let’s delve deeper: what truly constitutes NPD? Is it just an inflated sense of self-importance, or is there more beneath the surface?

In my years of practice and study, I’ve observed that narcissism isn’t merely about an excessive love of oneself. It’s a complex mental health condition that manifests in a variety of symptoms. One might see traits like arrogance, a sense of entitlement, and even a certain level of manipulative behavior.

At the core, there’s often an overwhelming need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. Yet, it’s not as straightforward as ticking off a checklist. People with NPD often experience intense emotional fluctuations, particularly when they don’t receive the attention or admiration they feel they deserve.

Now, it’s crucial to understand that children, like adults, can display these symptoms. But, is it fair to label them at such a tender age? As a child navigates through the various stages of development, it’s normal to exhibit self-centered behavior.

However, when these traits persist into adolescence, it might be time to consider a deeper evaluation. The challenge lies in distinguishing between what is a ‘phase’ and what could potentially be a lifelong pattern.

child stands atop a podium, crown adorned and trophy in hand, epitomizing an inflated self-worth. The surrounding children, diverse in descent and gender, offer a mixed palette of emotions. This juxtaposition of pride and varied perceptions underscores the profound impact of NPD on the individual and their social milieu.
Understanding NPD Traits in Children

Here are some symptoms you might observe in children who could be developing narcissistic traits:

  • Arrogance and Superiority: A belief that they are better than their peers.
  • Disregard for Others: Little or no concern for the feelings or needs of others.
  • Craving for Admiration: An excessive need to be the center of attention.
  • Sense of Entitlement: A belief that they have a right to special treatment.
  • Envy and Belittlement: A tendency to become envious and to demean others.
  • Manipulative Behavior: Using people around them to get what they want.
  • Emotional Instability: Extreme reactions to perceived slights or lack of attention.
  • Inflated Self-Image: Fantasies about their talents, intelligence, or beauty.

Now, it’s crucial to recognize that children are still in the developmental stage. It’s not uncommon for them to go through phases where they exhibit some of these behaviors. I often ask parents: “Is it a fleeting moment or a consistent pattern?” That question becomes the cornerstone for deciding whether professional intervention is warranted.

narcissistic child symptoms

As we venture further into understanding NPD, it’s crucial to zoom in on the nuances that differentiate children from adults in this context. You see, while certain indicators of narcissism may be universal, the manifestation in young minds has its own set of unique attributes.

Here’s a list of signs that are particularly relevant when assessing NPD in children:

  • Strained Social Interactions: Difficulty in maintaining quality friendships or relationships.
  • Unusual Play Behavior: Feeling uncomfortable or overly self-conscious during imaginative play.
  • High Sensitivity: An exaggerated reaction to criticism or loss.
  • Social Media Preoccupation: An obsessive tendency to post self-images on social media platforms.
  • Expectation of Privilege: Assuming a right to special treatment from parents and caregivers.
  • Vanity: An excessive amount of time spent checking mirrors.
  • Avoiding Eye Contact: A noticeable inability to maintain eye contact during conversations.
  • Overblown Self-Perception: Displaying an inflated sense of self-worth.
  • Social Isolation: A conspicuous lack of friendships.
  • Unexpected Learning Challenges: Struggling academically, despite not having limited intelligence.
  • Disengagement from Toys: A sudden loss of interest in toys and playthings.
  • Deceptive Justifications: Tendency to lie as a form of self-justification, often without any sense of guilt.
  • Anxiety During Separation: Experiencing high levels of separation anxiety.
  • Unfounded Distrust: Exhibiting suspicious behavior without any apparent reason.
  • Excessive Tantrums: Throwing tantrums that exceed what’s considered normal for their age group.

When I contemplate these indicators, it raises an intriguing question: How do these signs interact with a child’s developmental stages? Could the excessive tantrums be a mere expression of a phase, or do they hint at deeper emotional challenges?

Such questions guide us in differentiating between temporary behaviors and potential long-term personality traits.

Causes of Narcissism in Children

As we venture into the roots of narcissistic tendencies in children, it’s valuable to pinpoint the specific factors that contribute to the development of such traits. Let’s not merely scratch the surface; let’s dig deeper to unearth the underlying causes. Here’s a list of contributing factors:

  • Abuse: Both physical and emotional mistreatment can lead to narcissistic coping mechanisms.
  • Adoption: The emotional complexities of being an adopted child can sometimes manifest as narcissistic traits.
  • Cultural Pressures: Cultural norms and expectations can subtly encourage self-centered behaviors.
  • Loss of a Parent: The emotional void created by the death of a parent or caregiver can catalyze narcissistic tendencies.
  • Parental Separation: The divorce of parents often brings about emotional instability, sometimes leading to narcissism.
  • Harsh Criticism: Excessive criticism can lead to an inflated sense of self as a defense mechanism.
  • Parental Expectations: When parents set unrealistically high standards, it can foster a sense of entitlement in the child.
  • Biological Factors: Genetics and inherent personality traits can also play a role.
  • High Sensitivity: An overly sensitive nature can make a child more susceptible to developing narcissistic traits.
  • Narcissistic Parents: Sometimes, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
  • Neglect: Emotional neglect can make narcissism appear as an attractive coping strategy.
  • Parental Overindulgence: Excessive pampering can instill a false sense of self-importance.
  • Overprotective Parenting: This style of parenting can inhibit emotional growth, leading to narcissistic tendencies.
  • Entitlement: When parents treat their children as if they are more special than others, it can foster entitlement.
  • Social Influences: Peer pressure and societal messages can contribute to the development of self-centered behaviors.
  • Trauma: Experiencing traumatic events can lead to the adoption of narcissistic traits as a coping strategy.

I often find myself asking: How can we disentangle the complex web of factors to arrive at a solution? It’s essential to recognize that these factors often work in synergy, creating a multi-faceted and deeply-rooted issue.

As we move forward, we’ll delve into how parents can play a proactive role in shaping their children’s personalities for the better.

child's exaggerated narcissistic demeanor
child’s exaggerated narcissistic demeanor

How Parents Create Narcissistic Children: A Double-Edged Sword

As we probe deeper into the intricate landscape of children’s mental well-being, it’s impossible to overlook the role of the first heroes in a child’s life—the parents. Yes, the people who are meant to nurture can sometimes end up sowing the seeds of narcissism. But how exactly does this transpire?

In my experience, parents often become inadvertent sculptors of their children’s narcissistic traits. For instance, when caregivers continuously place a child on a pedestal, it can instill in the young mind an inflated sense of self-worth.

It’s like constantly feeding a child sugar and then wondering why they’re hyperactive. On the flip side, emotional neglect can produce similar results. A child starved for attention may develop narcissistic traits as a defense mechanism, a sort of emotional armor.

While it’s natural for parents to want the best for their offspring, one must ponder: At what point does ‘wanting the best’ transform into ‘wanting them to be the best at everything’? This kind of pressure can be a heavy burden for a child, leading them to adopt a narcissistic lens through which they view the world.

After all, children aren’t merely vessels to be filled with expectations; they’re unique individuals who need the space to develop their sense of self.


As we navigate the intricate pathways of children’s mental landscapes, we must consider the road to recovery. A diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder traits in a child can be a jolt for any family, but it’s far from a dead end.

What treatment options can guide these young souls back to a more balanced state of being?

Firstly, therapy is often the cornerstone of effective treatment. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can give children the tools to better understand their thought patterns and emotions.

Essentially, it teaches them to be their emotional cartographers, mapping out their feelings and learning to take different routes to avoid the pitfalls of narcissism.

Another avenue for intervention is family therapy. The family unit is like the soil in which a child’s personality grows; thus, enriching that soil can bring about profound changes. Involving the family in therapy can ensure that the home environment is conducive to positive behavioral change.

Mindfulness practices, though not a replacement for professional treatment, can supplement these therapies effectively. From personal observation, mindfulness can help children become aware of their thoughts and actions in real-time, allowing for self-correction before a narcissistic impulse turns into a narcissistic action.

So, as we stand at this juncture, it might be worth asking ourselves: Are we equipped to walk this healing path with our children? The journey may be arduous, but the destination—a balanced and empathetic individual—is surely worth the trials.

Can Children Grow Out Of Narcissism

As children grow and develop, many parents and experts wonder if narcissistic traits naturally fade with age. Let’s explore what research tells us about this important topic.

A key study by Wetzel and colleagues found that narcissism tends to decrease as young people mature. Their research showed that levels of narcissism, vanity, and entitlement generally go down over time.

This matches what we know about how people mature – as kids get older, they usually become more caring towards others and less focused on themselves.

Dr. Eddie Brummelman, a developmental psychologist, explains:

“Narcissism peaks in adolescence and then decreases throughout adulthood. This decline is part of a broader pattern of personality maturation.”

However, it’s not always a smooth journey. The teenage years can see a rise in narcissistic behaviors before they start to drop off. Dr. Jean Twenge, a psychology professor, notes:

“There’s often a spike in narcissism during the teen years, which makes sense given the self-focus of adolescence. But for most people, those levels come back down as they enter adulthood.”

So what helps children grow out of narcissistic tendencies? Experts point to a few key factors:

  • Brain development: As the prefrontal cortex matures, impulse control and empathy improve.
  • Life experiences: Facing challenges and setbacks can help build humility and perspective.
  • Healthy relationships: Positive connections with others teach cooperation and compromise.
  • Skill-building: Developing real competencies boosts genuine self-esteem.

It’s important to note that while most kids will naturally become less narcissistic with age, some may need extra support. Dr. Craig Malkin, a clinical psychologist, advises:

“If narcissistic traits persist or worsen into the late teens and early twenties, it might be time to seek professional help. Early intervention can make a big difference.”

Parents can also play a role in helping their children develop a healthy sense of self. Praising effort over innate talent, encouraging empathy, and modeling humble behavior can all contribute to balanced emotional growth.

While narcissistic traits are common in childhood and may peak in adolescence, most young people do grow out of them as they mature. With the right support and experiences, children can develop into empathetic, well-adjusted adults.


As we conclude this in-depth exploration of the narcissist family tree, let’s take a moment to reflect. We’ve journeyed through the intricate dynamics of Narcissistic Personality Disorder traits in children, diving into symptoms, causes, and potential treatments.

But where do we go from here? What proactive steps can parents and caregivers take to ensure a healthier mental landscape for their young ones?

I believe the key lies in awareness and intentional action. Parents need to be keen observers, capable of recognizing early signs and intervening with love and firmness. Parents also need to be able to self-reflect on how their parenting style could be creating a narcissist.

Treatments like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and family counseling can serve as crucial roadmaps, guiding us through the maze of complex emotions and behaviors.

Mindfulness, too, should not be overlooked as a supplementary practice. It’s not merely about identifying the problem; it’s about engaging in a holistic solution that involves the child, the family, and sometimes even the broader community.

So, as you stand at this crossroad, ask yourself: Are you willing to take the journey towards healing and balance? It’s a path that requires dedication, yes, but it’s a path that leads to a more harmonious life for your child—and for you.

The story doesn’t have to end at diagnosis; in many ways, that’s where it truly begins.

Namaste 🙂

Embodiment Coach Vishnu Ra
Vishnu Ra

Master Embodiment Coach |

Vishnu Ra is a Reiki Master & meditation coach with an impressive background in deep meditation. He has spent countless hours delving into the mysteries of human consciousness, and he is passionate about sharing his wisdom with others. Vishnu is also an entrepreneur and truth seeker, always on the lookout for new opportunities to explore. When he’s not sitting in meditation or teaching workshops on mindfulness, Vishnu loves being by the ocean!