It’s interesting because we grew up in one type of parenting style, and now Society has changed all that. I empathize with all you parents out there who can’t do the stuff that our parents did to us; we can’t do that anymore and for a good reason. Hitting a child is always a bad idea; the reason is that it’s overstimulating.
If somebody hits you, they’ve entered your private space. It’s an assault, and it’s illegal. If a child hits somebody when they grow up, they are going to be sued. You get into this quandary, “I can hit you, but you can’t hit anybody.” I’ve had parents who have hit kids for getting in trouble for hitting kids in class. It stirs them up more than you realize and it’s hard for a child to hold on to that being overstimulated like that. It’s hard for an adult to handle that overstimulation, but it’s disruptive to a child’s development. So please don’t hit. I know a lot of us grew up that way and lots of people kid themselves, by saying, “well that made me a better person.” Most likely not, but even if it did, not a good idea.
Here’s the key, when a child is small, they cannot speak, or they can’t get their ideas in their head out. They also can’t take your ideas; children don’t understand abstract concepts such as general safety. They can’t understand it, so you’re limited, you’re limited to things like taking away privileges, restricting their activities, taking things away. You are narrowing their focus down; that way they can see, if they do this, they lose that. They can put those two simple ideas together, but as a child ages, they start getting into middle school and certainly by high school, they can reason. You want them to reason; you want them to learn how to reason. These are the keys to how to avoid raising a narcissist.
Your child’s first long-term intimate relationship is with you.
You have to be doing this well, so they learn how to do it well. They’re going to take what they learn from you and apply it to the other relationships in their life when they get older. When the child is at a reasoning age, you have to start talking to them; taking things away and timeouts are pointless, it’s totally useless for them. You want natural consequences to take their toll as much as possible. This is a critical part of how to avoid raising a narcissist.
If they don’t study for their tests, they get to go to school and fail, that’s the consequence. You don’t have to add anything to that; you don’t have to do anything with that except talk to them. Ask them, what is going on, that they’re not studying for their test? They may not be able to respond, but you start getting the wheels turning, and you ask more questions. They’re going to internalize that asking themselves questions such as, “why am I failing?” They’ll start thinking about it; you don’t have to pummel them. Ask them questions such as, “Is this the type of student you want to be? Do you think this is going to impact your future? What good or bad can come out of this, how did your teacher react, what are some other options? Talk to your child and ask questions, to get them thinking.
They may decide they’re perfectly fine with getting B’s and maybe you’re okay with them getting B’s. But if they’re smart and they can get B’s pretty easily, and you’re not happy with them sitting around the house doing nothing, well then you start talking about that. If they’re not going to do their homework, and you don’t want them to sit around. Figure out what they can do that might help their resume and get into college? Maybe they’ll want to start a new sport or get extra lessons, or volunteer works. That’s called compromise; you want to start compromising with the child. Not with the dangerous things, if they’re drinking and driving, you take the car away for a little while and talk. That’s not a compromise; you want to understand what they’re thinking. You want to know how can they handle things differently next time.
Think about it; when they’re married, the spouse isn’t going to take their phone away if they lose their job. You want your child to talk and work it out, that’s an adult to adult relationship. You got to start having that type of relationship before the child is an adult; that way, when they’re an adult, they can do it right.
That’s the difference
Narcissists don’t do that give-and-take. Healthy people can have all kinds of competent people around them, and people with their own ideas and known values and they’re comfortable. But a narcissist has to have everybody “below them” to feel whole. They can’t do the give-and-take.
You have to start doing that when your kid can reason. Parents who take a phone away for two months even though that has nothing to do with them being late for their curfew two weeks in a row. That’s not going to translate to the adult world. Right? The boss is going to come and say, “What the hell, why are you late all the time? What is going on with you?” You want your child to be able to give and take, and it starts with you. This is not a blame the parent’s story, I don’t want to blame my parents, and it’s not about that.
The fact remains that you are an integral part of your child’s life. You’re the only part of a child’s life for a long time, and then you’re an integral part of that life as they grow up. You have a massive influence on that; it’s also not to scare you it’s to give you hope. So you can see and go through these changes or ask for help to do so. How to avoid raising a narcissist or sociopath is: teach give and take, control yourself, put up boundaries against them, and change your approach as they change and as they grow.