Do you have a narcissistic child? Signs could appear as young at five or They could be an adult narcissist

There is no evidence that children are born narcissistic and most theories of how a narcissist becomes a narcissist are based on a childhood trauma or entitlement during their childhood. What if your child had no trauma? What if they are showing these signs very early? What if they show no empathy to their siblings or to you and your spouse? Are they just spoiled when they throw that temper tantrum over not getting their way? How can a parent identify that the behaviors are not just in the normal spectrum of childhood entitlement verses being a someone with budding narcissistic personality disorder? What if you were married to a narcissist and see your child mirroring the behaviors of your abusive ex? All these concerns are natural and extremely painful for a parent to understand exactly what to do because we naturally want to help them. Can they be helped?

In my studies of narcissistic children, I found a claim that narcissism is half biological and half environmental. While there was no scientific evidence of this, I want you to remember that we as parents have a responsibility to teach our children to play nice, be kind to others and guide them to understand that they are not the center of the world. Teaching our children empathy wasn’t on the list in the baby book, so how do we do that? In most cases parents do try to teach these human qualities to their kids and still they act badly leaving the parents in conflict as they ask themselves – is this my fault? Did I spoil them too much?
The number one question parents ask their counselors is, “can they change?” My answer is “it depends…”, and that is because every child is different and every family that supports the child is different. The age of a child is an important factor. As with all narcissists, once the brain is completely formed and they are fully developed and they see nothing wrong with their behaviors, change is unlikely. The bar for them changing is based on so many factors that most counselors would not want to give you false hope that they can “fix” your child. This doesn’t mean you give up and let your confusion take over how to handle them and allow these narcissistic behaviors to continue.

Children can start showing red flags as early as two years old and at that young age a parent can change the way they parent to guide the child into a place of accountability for their actions. Your child must learn to understand empathy for others and many other things other parents don’t normally need to teach kids. As your child grows and patterns that might have been moldable when they were younger, it become more difficult as their ways become ‘them’ and it gets harder to change them. This should not discourage you from trying to do what you can to help them but at some point, they may pull away because as you probably know a person with Narcissistic personality disorder doesn’t see anything wrong with themselves and therefore has nothing to fix or change.

Let’s look at the signs and look at some suggestions that might give you guidance and hope.

Before we get deeper into the narcissistic childs behaviors, you need to first understand the DSM’s Criteria for any narcissist.

The disorder begins by early adulthood and is indicated by at least five of the following to be medically diagnosed as having Narcissistic Personality Disorder

An exaggerated sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
Preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
Believes he/she is “special” and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
Requires excessive admiration
Has a sense of entitlement
Selfishly takes advantage of others to achieve his own ends
Lacks empathy
Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him
Shows arrogant, haughty, patronizing, or contemptuous behaviors or attitudes

Prefer to learn by watching video on Narcissistic children

What to do if child is showing signs or always has been and now the grandkids are being blocked


Entitlement – When children are learning to be little adults they often get the message that they are entitled to whatever it is they want. As a small child they may want that toy without regard for the family’s ability to buy it. As they get older the teens entitlement will be controlled by what s/he wants to do, believing they are entitled to see their friends 24/7, and entitled to say what they want without any thought to how the person receiving their message would feel. As young adults they believe their parents should continue to pay their bills and bail them out of trouble. This entitlement sets the stage for them to continue to bring people into their lives that will give them everything they want.

Ego – There are spectrums for every characteristic of a narcissist and ego can run in an overt way where they are constantly craving attention on social media, these kids are keeping up with the other kids on social media, but with a twist. If kids are mean and knock them off this social ego high, they get wounded. This wounding causes a narcissistic injury and they will seek revenge on the ones that injured their fragile ego. The covert ego of a child narcissist is where they are more subtle in exposing their ego; they don’t need to post images on Facebook to garner this ego supply, but they demand that the people surrounding them be loyal subjects with only one purpose: to raise them up. Your child can present themselves as with overt or covert.

Social media – I think it’s important to say here that parents who are thinking their child is a narcissist because they post a lot of selfies and are constantly living on social media waiting for the number of likes on their breakfast, is not a huge indicator of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. We all have some narcissistic traits and healthy love of self is okay and normal. In kids’ lives these days, social media is as much a part of their daily lives as hanging with our friends was when we grew up. NPD is much bigger than the need for the perfect selfie. Narcissists hurt others intentionally for their own gain.

No empathy for others – the DSM’s criteria for someone being a narcissist is that they feel no empathy, and this includes for siblings, parents, or classmates. This will be clear in a child when they demand the family’s attention. The narcissistic child will never care about anyone else. They don’t want to hear about your day or their sister’s softball game. Your life and your family’s life’s and their friends’ everyday events, mean nothing to them. Every conversation always leads back to them.

Lying with no remorse – The older they get, starting in early teens you would have seen the lies ramp up to not only lie about their own behaviors but lie about others. A teenager wanting revenge on her father might go to school and accuse dad of sexually molesting her. Telling people that they are abused emotionally or physically, calling the parent an alcoholic or drug addict is a tactic that is quite common. Lying about where they are at night is a common teen lie but the budding narcissistic child will fabricate an ornate story that is usually believable at first because of all the thought and details they put in it. Remember details don’t make the story true and that the purpose of this lie is to gaslight you and keep you from learning the truth. When this gaslighting story rolls off their tongue parents feel their child is a good communicator so there is no need to verify or validate the story. They got ya!

Narcissistic children have an unhealthy desire to be the center of attention. In the home this is common to see if you have other children as they present as the Golden Child to rise above their siblings. In school they can go either way, showing the teachers how smart they are by raising their hand and correcting others, or they create chaos in the classroom, so the school is forced to call the parent for behavioral issues. Do not forget that negative attention is attention and they are happy to be the problem child if it suits their needs.

When a narcissistic child manipulates, they use charm to pull on your heart strings to get their way. This is not the normal childhood test; they go further to twist things and then they use guilt as a tactic to get what they want. They quickly learn what they can get away with to manipulate each person and this becomes the pattern in their lives.

Tantrums if they don’t get their way
– The narcissistic child is tantrum challenged. While most kids after three learn that tantrums don’t get them far, a budding narcissist continues to use them because they have learned that they can wear you down to get their way, often just to shut them up parents give in.

A narcissistic child doesn’t play well with others. They feel they are better than other children. Their relationships are based on what someone can do for them. These friendships are superficial and never last unless they can control them. They can present themselves as having a lot of friends, but are they friends or subjects that admire them? Or can they use this friend for some higher purpose? Having a cheerleader friend can pump up their status simply by associating with them.

A child displaying narcissistic traits at school will present themselves either as the perfect student while they throw others under the bus, or they present as bullies entitled to thoughtlessly harm others without any empathy for what they are doing. Aggressive and boundary breaking or over dominant behaviors should be taken seriously.

The victim mentality of a child that is showing signs of Narcissistic Personality Disorder is something you will not be able to miss. Everything always happens to them, someone did this “to them”. They stole or cheated because they had justification and the victim in themselves made them do it.

Difficult, demanding, destructive and violent behaviors are a huge red flag.

Narcissistic children blame, blame and blame more. They are never wrong and would never admit to being wrong so that means everyone else is wrong. The detailed stories they create to blame others while they NEVER take accountability or responsibility for anything.

They create drama in your household with other family members.

Narcissists in training don’t think rules apply to them.

Stealing is a form of entitlement when your child steals from you or their siblings you must set proper boundaries and consequences. They steal because they are entitled to what you have anything they want. Later this will manifest in their marriages; what’s theirs is theirs and what is their spouses is also theirs.

They do not understand that they must fail sometimes in order to learn. Failing can cause a huge narcissistic injury. Consider a game of monopoly that you are playing with your family, the child that cheats and steals properties and has no consequences learns that taking what they want is just how you do it.


If the child grows up in a household that has a parent that is narcissistic, alcoholic or an otherwise unhealthy environment the child could have struggled for attention. The only way to keep the peace might have been do everything to keep the damaging parent from raging on them. This causes them to learn that affection needs to be earned. They are then repeating the patterns of the narcissistic parent. This begins the theory that narcissistic adults are just wounded children coping to make themselves feel special.

When a parent with a narcissistic spouse sees these behaviors in the kids, they of course freak out thinking they did something wrong by having a child with a narcissist. This is usually where parents go first without looking at the fact that when they had the child they probably didn’t understand that their partner had NPD. Don’t blame yourself and don’t think their fate is sealed. Children learn behaviors from what they see. A child with a narcissistic parent may be learning behaviors that are triggering to you. This may not define them as narcissistic, they are just doing what they see. You can teach them empathy on how it feels when they do the behaviors and that these are not acceptable in your house.

You could have done nothing at all to create them, you gave them a good home, you got them therapy to help with their behaviors, you didn’t spoil them and yet here you are. The biological factor that could have contributed is not something to ignore. Narcissism can be passed down from relatives, since there are no tests that show your child is missing an empathy gene this is sort of a dead end, but I wanted to mention it to the parents still struggling to figure this out. There may never be a concrete reason for why they are this way so at this point you may explore your family’s history.

Behaviors are what we are concerned about, not a diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Parents often walk away too early not thinking they can help the narcissistic child, or they become enablers not understanding what is happening; they indulge to keep the peace accepting that this is just their child being “themselves”.


Narcissistic children grow up and go on to have careers and start their own families. In this stage they might hold the grandchildren back from you. I suggest you read ‘being relationship page’ and ‘divorcing a narcissist’ to understand this period in their lives.

I am often asked by victims of abuse: Why didn’t the narcissist’s parents warn them before they married the narcissist? This one is tough because after years of enduring abuse from their child, most parents “hope” that you will save them and teach them what love is. In some cases, the frustrated parents feel that you can take the weight off them and maybe this time they will be happy. They hold onto hope and you are the only hope they have seen in a long time.

While you cannot simply warn the spouse of your child that your child can be a bit crazy, you could help the spouse when they have questions. Let them know you will always be there. Believe their spouse if they share stories that confuse them.

If your child has kids of their own it can be painful to watch. If your relationship is still open, you could help be a grounding force in the grandchildren’s lives when they spend time with you.

Often going no contact is your only solution
Narcissists do not like to play by a new set of rules and a narcissistic child that has had a lifetime of using you as a punching bag will not go down without a fight. The game you are playing now (self-healing) will piss them off and they may begin to jack up the pain and smears, in which case evaluate going completely no contact. It may not be easy to never see your child again because of them having their own family someday, but when things get terrible for you and the rest of your family this may be your only choice. I know, not an easy one.
If you cannot go completely no contact, then learn Grey Rock techniques to manage the exposure you will have with them going forward. Only when you are free from the narcissistic child are you free to heal and release the drama.

Understand things won’t change – so come to terms of what the relationship can look like.


Learn skills and coping methods for you and your family. Teach your other children how to deal with their sibling by learning coping skills to alleviate some of their anxiety. Often the narcissistic child demands so much attention that other children feel neglected. Be sure to even your attention to the other children.

Avoid the drama by not playing into their behaviors. Walk away and don’t show them they are getting to you, because they feed on attention even if its negative.

Set boundaries and say “no” early. I know this is hard, especially when the drama they are telling you is such a good and believable story, but you are enabling them to never learn responsibility. Stay firm and stay together as a family. The last thing you want is to create is the mom against dad game because everyone loses. Don’t allow behaviors that disrupt your family – create rules with consequences.

Be careful of crumbs, crumbs are little moments of seeing their “old self” because this is usually an act to get something from you. We hold onto the light thinking the ‘old child’ is still in there and if you just love them more, they will change. Once they are adults the chance of them changing is slim, because they would need to see the problem and be willing to do some long hard therapy and most narcissists do not see anything wrong with themselves, it’s everyone else.

When they are older expect to always wonder if they are safe.

When speaking with parents of adult children who have had no choice but to go no contact several have shared that to cope with this loss they think of their child as dead. Grieving for them is very real so get therapy for yourself. Many parents report a numbness to their child after years of abuse.

To keep your sanity, remove painful memories and pictures from around the house – keep them in a box but not where you will be looking at them every day. This may trigger you daily and you cannot heal.

The future of a child narcissist is not bright, the lies will continue in their own relationships, the lack of loyalty will cause them to cheat, they will never be able to keep people in their lives for long and that may include your own family. If they have done things to break the law, they will end up in jail and to them, it will certainly be someone else’s fault.


Understand the symptoms of a narcissistic child

Get your child into counseling with a qualified counselor that can help you identify that the behaviors you are witnessing aren’t crossing into something bigger.

Never call your child a narcissist
(no matter what age they are) because this never ends well. Instead deal with their behaviors.

Teach your child empathy – modeling empathy in your family is the first place to start. Whenever possible show your child how others feel. If they bully someone at school, ask your child “how that might feel to be the child that was bullied”. Teach them to walk in someone else’s shoes. Do volunteer work with them so they can find compassion for others that have less. If they have no empathy lessons in life, they will not learn empathy of others and risk becoming narcissistic later in life.

Balance the ego of your child – often to teach our children that they are special we praise them in unhealthy ways. We create little people with big egos that are unjustified and unearned; this hurts them as they go out into the world. These false egos cripple and fool a child into believing that all they need to do is ‘be’ to be special. Ultimately those egos will need to be fed by others and if not fed they feel unloved; they are wounded and eventually they wound just to feed that ego with no empathy for those they hurt. By overly praising your child you may be positioning them to crave that attention. They learn to expect praise and ultimately to demand it. This craving of praise can lead them to be narcissistic. Society sometimes contributes to this by awarding big trophies to children just for participating in a team sport.

Curtail entitlement – let’s face it, we want to give our children everything we never had, that is one of the joys and curses of parenting. We long to provide for our kids: Having opportunities to do activities and costly sports or having the perfect clothes that help them fit into the clicks at school or giving them the opportunity to go to the college of their dreams. While these are wonderful things for a parent to be able to give to their children these gifts often become a base of entitlement. They do not understand that they must earn things in life, children need to learn that they must work for things just as you do. Limit the gifts for birthdays and holidays and teach them to save for something they want. They will value what they earn more because of the hard work they have put into getting that thing. Assigning them chores or making them get a job early will help them unlearn entitlement and the rules of life.

Rescuing our children is a natural way to parent, it goes back to wanting the best for them. Are we teaching them accountability when we rescue them? Learning accountability for their actions teaches them not to make that mistake again. Imagine if your teenager runs up the family credit card buying things, they wanted but didn’t have authorization to buy. Bailing them out teaches them that you will always be there to bail them out, so they learn no accountability and they do it again and again. Making them get a job or earn that money back shows them there is a cost to being irresponsible and they learn this lesson. Until they learn the lesson and “pay a price” they do not learn accountability and they become entitled little narcissists. They also learn that in order to get what they want they need to find others that will bail them out and rescue them and so the cycle of abuse begins.

Show your children unconditional love despite their mistakes. In my example above remember their behavior was not acceptable and they need to be corrected and learn from bad choices. If in your anger and frustration you make them feel unloved because of their actions they learn performance-based love. This lesson will cripple them later in life because it fosters them that they must achieve something to earn love and that mistakes are bad instead of something we need to learn from. Showing unconditional love to them can be a double-edged sword. Condoning their behaviors will feed the fire of narcissism. Despite your efforts for not allowing their bad behaviors they often become the victim and they will feel or play the role of someone abandoned by family. They use that as the basis for their victimhood going into adulthood.

Lying is not okay – If the child lies often and has no consequences that teaches the lesson that lying is okay, but because it has no cost to them, they will continue to lie. Since a narcissists whole life is based on a lie your job will be to stop this foundation before it defines them. Simple lying is to be expected from a small child to learn to test the world. Budding narcissistic children take that several steps further and build upon those to create elaborate stories which turn into false allegations, which become smear campaigns. This level of lying will need to be monitored and kept from being allowed.

If your child believes they are better and smarter than all the other kids, they may be showing a narcissistic trait that should be monitored. Teach them empathy for others by pointing out other children’s strengths to keep them grounded in truth.

As your kids get older and continue to show narcissistic traits that become abusive, it may be in your best interest to limit contact or go completely no contact. No contact may be the best way to protect your other children because if the narcissistic child is abusing them or using them to get messages to you then you cannot really heal yourself or your other children. This is one of the hardest thing’s parents can face because walking away from a child, no matter how they acted is like feels like they are dead to you. A grieving process will need to be dealt with.

Don’t feed them financially – the pity victim stories are so believable that parents continue to give in and give money even when the kids are 40-50 years old. To them you are the bank and they are entitled to ask, and never pay back anything simply because you birthed them. This again is a difficult decision for parents to cut off the financial funnel. You might worry about what will happen to them if you don’t help and if something does happen you will live with guilt over this choice. You must understand that you are enabling them to never care for themselves or take responsibility, which affects their self-worth.