Are you sitting there in quiet moment, worrying, ‘my child is narcissistic?’ If you are, you’re not alone and please don’t feel bad. Narcissism is around pretty much everywhere you look. Sometimes we even look up to narcissistic people. They’re the go getters with high self esteem that take no prisoners. But is narcissism all it’s cracked up to be and if you’re a parent, should you be concerned if you child is showing narcissistic traits. If so, what should you do about it? Well, we’ll get to that later but to start let me illustrate what narcissism really is in a couple of real life examples.
Most people are aware that King Jong Un , the young leader of North Korea likes to play with possible nuclear war, like your two year old plays with dump trucks. For a moment though, I’d like to talk about his dad, the ‘Dear Leader’ Kim Jong lL. Why? Well because he was generally considered to have a host of personality disorders, including narcissistic personality disorder defined in DSM as, an ‘individual who is excessively preoccupied with issues of personal adequacy, power, prestige and vanity.‘
Kim Jong IL was, until a few years ago the dearly departed leader of North Korea (late 2011). I must confess, I didn’t really know much about him other than the fact that he dressed like a Beatle from the 1960’s. My ignorance remained until I watched a great documentary here recently, called the ‘Vice Guide to North Korean Film Madness.’ You see apparently, the ‘Great General’ was fabulous at absolutely everything and none more so, than film.
He kidnapped filmmakers
He loved slasher films and monster films and became so entranced with watching films in one of his seven private theaters, that he really wanted to start making his own. But there was a problem, no one knew how to make a film. Well, that would be a significant hurdle for most people but not for the Kim Jong IL. Nothing could be allowed to stand in the way of the the Great General’s ambition, so he simply got his goons to kidnap people to make his film.
As you can imagine, every moment of Kim Jong IL’s life included somebody who was fawning over him, telling him how wonderful and important he was. His father, Kim IL Sung, who reigned for some 46 years before him had been doted on by the whole of North Korea and just as they doted on the father, they also doted on the son. He was denied nothing and as he grew up he came to believe he was a perfect architect, great film maker, superb cheese maker and the list goes on. He gave himself 20,000 titles that fed his feeling of self-importance. He would have performances put on that would rival any Olympic opening ceremony, with over 150,000 athletes performing for him. On the occasion of the documentary, there were a huge group of avid viewers of about….hmm, 10 other people. Meanwhile with no electricity and little food, the rest of his population slowly starved.
How is someone like Kim Jong IL created?
So I think there’s a question worth asking here. What exactly creates a Kim Jong IL?
While he was an extreme narcissist, it’s easy to think that there’s no possibility of creating the same kinds of personality traits in our children, here amongst us ‘normal’ people.
But I think that’s an erroneous assumption because many of the ways we have been told to relate to kids does, in my view, create these very same narcissistic personality traits. Not as extreme of course and granted, it’s not intentional at all. In fact, if many of the parents doing it knew, I’d have no doubt they’d reverse course immediately. After all, there isn’t a parent I’ve met yet, who doesn’t truly care and love their child and want to do what’s best for them.
Let’s look at our celebrities – Justin Beiber anyone?
Narcissism is unfortunately everywhere, even in those our kids supposedly look up to. Take for example, Justin Bieber, who a few years ago memorably visited the Anne Frank House Museum in Amsterdam. On the guestbook he wrote, and I quote, “ Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber.” Yikes! That’s what Justin Bieber and Kim Jong IL have in common, narcissism; To varying degrees I’ll grant you but it’s still narcissism. Just as Kim Jong IL was raised as the centre of attention making him completely immune to the feelings, thoughts and lives of those around him, so Justin lives in a bubble of his own adoration, out of touch with his fans or anyone else in society for that matter.
But it’s not just celebrities
Ok, but these are famous people. What about the regular kids? Well, let me draw your attention to the news. What about the epidemic of rape amongst teenage males recently? All of whom, seem to have felt it was within their right to sexually abuse a child and then psychologically torture her about it, until the victim couldn’t take it any longer and killed herself. What incredible brutality! All of which, in my view as someone in the parent counselling field, stems from the fundamental core belief that their wants supersede those of anyone else.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not implying all our male children are going to turn out to be rapists but what I am saying, is that children who are taught to think they are the centre of attention, will grow up to believe that the world revolves around them and that whatever they want has priority. If these words are striking a chord and you’re concerned that your child may be becoming narcissistic, there is something you can do about it and I would encourage you to look in to my services to help stave it off.
You see, parents are led to believe that having your kids as the centre of your world, means you should treat them as such. Ever wonder what ‘tips for keeping your kids occupied during the holidays really means?’ It means that children have ceased to be part of the family and are essentially the drivers of it.
Now mum and dad have to subjugate what must be done for the family to what the children want. Now if that’s done for a birthday or special trip to the zoo, fine, no problem. Every family should enjoy fun times together. But done every day, day in and day out in order to ‘keep children occupied, entertained and happy’ and the child starts to get a very different message. A message which tells them that they are the centre of attention and everything revolves around them. Where their needs supersede those of everyone else.