How Not to Raise a Child Sociopath or Narcissist

 How Not to Raise a Child Sociopath or Narcissist This is a question I get all of the time. How not to raise a child sociopath or narcissist. Because teenagers can look like they’re sociopaths or narcissists, but they’re healthy teens. So what’s the difference? To start, we need to understand what a sociopath and narcissist are. If we don’t fully understand this, we’re not going to be able to avoid it or avoid raising a child sociopath or narcissist. These terms have been in the news a lot, and we in psychology have them under the umbrella of personality disorder. It’s a terrible phrase, I know, but that’s the phrase we use. Personality disorders have many different forms, 2 of them which are sociopaths and narcissist. So what’s at the heart of that? People with personality disorders can’t do relationships. Some people actually can’t tolerate relationships, but they want them terribly. It’s an awful dilemma for them, and most of this is unconscious. What you’ll see is they can’t tolerate closeness, and they can’t tolerate distance. And those two things are kind of at the poles of all healthy relationships. What do I mean by that? If you’re healthy and in a healthy relationship, what that means is you’re getting close, and you’re getting distant, you’re getting close, and you’re getting distant. Let’s say you have a girlfriend, you see her, and you have a great time, and then you don’t see her, and you do other things, all healthy relationships are like that.  They Can’t Tolerate Closeness or Distance for Very Long What happens with a narcissist or sociopath, is they can’t tolerate closeness for very long because it feels like being taken over. So to them, closeness starts feeling like being invaded, being taken over, being eliminated; it becomes a terrible feeling for them. Just like distancing becomes an awful feeling for them because it feels like abandonment, a terrible loss.  Both of these feel like extremes to the personality disorder patients, so they avoid them. And how they avoid them is by wiggling around in the middle; instead of doing close and distancing they’re getting close and then doing something to break the closeness such as arguing, cheating, lying, attacking- whatever it is, they got to get away, and they do, but they can’t stay away. After they’re apart, it starts to feel like a …

Poor Parenting and The Dynamics Behind it

Poor Parenting and The Dynamics Behind it If you think the scariest hood to be in is Parenthood, then you’re right, but there’s a way to make Parenthood a little less scary. A lot of people ask for parenting advice or have parenting questions and poor parenting concerns. This is not just me as a psychiatrist, talking to you, I’m also a parent, and I really believe that parents help parents. Parenting isn’t about a checklist of how to do something right. It’s hard to know when you’ve gone off course, and, if you’re off course, it’s hard to know how to get back on course. If parents help each other out, then we’re helping our whole community and our entire society. I do have adult kids, and I can empathize greatly. I have been through a lot of the struggles that you’ve been through with my patients, my clients, and in my personal life. What are the dynamics behind poor parenting? We hear different names such as a helicopter parent, snowplow parent, and I have a phrase I’ve used for a long time called tractor-trailer parents.  There is a lot of people who are afraid they are one of those parents or worried they’re going to become one of those parents. I always start any session or any treatment by stating, if you understand why poor parenting is happening, then you can stop it. It’s important to understand what’s going on, to see the patterns behind the poor parenting, and to come to realize it’s not what you want to be doing. If you don’t understand the patterns, the dynamics,  and what’s going on underneath; it’s a lot less likely you’re going to figure out what’s wrong and where to go that’s better. The dynamics of the controlling parent The dynamics of the controlling parent, in general, this is the issue here. It’d be easy to say controlling parents are control freaks. That’s part of it because nobody likes to feel out of control and certainly parents don’t want to feel out of control. Parents may fear if they’re losing control, that’s making them a bad parent. Parents are, by definition in control when their kids are not. So it makes sense that control plays a role in all these different parenting issues or problems. It’s not just a lack of loss of control that parents are fighting when …

Common Problems with Blended Families

The Three Biggest Parenting Mistakes in Blended Families Divorce and remarriage are significant life events, and when those changes also involve kids, the stakes multiply for everyone. Many couples, of course, create happy blended families with lasting bonds, while others face challenges their marriage cannot withstand. What’s the difference? Learn about the three most common and biggest mistakes parents make when blending their new families, and what it takes to avoid them. Mistake #1: Allowing step-parents to discipline their step-kids Overstepping disciplinary boundaries is, by far, one of the most common problems with blended families that I see. In some cases, parents want the blended family to function just as the original family did. In others, biological parents feel overwhelmed by the demands of parenting and want a partner to share the responsibility. Some others worry that if a parent does not discipline a child, the child will not respect them. But here’s the bottom line: Disciplinary decisions are the sole responsibility of the child’s biological parents. Step-parents have no disciplinary role. Here’s why: By the time we start disciplining our biological kids, we’ve had years to develop a relationship with them. Over the years, that closeness helps balance the inevitable distancing that follows discipline. In other words, a healthy relationship helps cushion the blow of discipline. When a step-parent disciplines a step-child without that relationship cushion, they are bound to alienate that child forever. The parent-child relationship required for healthy and effective discipline takes years to develop and cannot be rushed. Mistake #2: “Pushing” relationships It’s a natural instinct to try and force the new family members to like each other. A divorced mother wants her kids to like her new husband. A divorced dad wants his kids to like their new step-siblings. A new step-father wants his wife’s kids to like him. However, parents must remember they cannot force their kids to like anyone, including a step-parent, step-sibling, or an ex-spouse. After all, this change in family circumstance was not the child’s choice. Instead of pushing relationships, maintain as many of the old family routines as possible while everyone learns to adjust. Emphasize respect and allow relationships to grow at their own speed. Blending new families can be a long process. It is filled with trial and error. The more parents can maintain stability for their kids, the better it is for everyone to adjust in both the …

Age Appropriate Discipline for Children

Age Appropriate Discipline Techniques   The most common parenting mistake I see comes from parents who fail to change their discipline tactics as their children get older. I am supplying you with a practical guide, a break down of how parenting must evolve as your children do. Lets first understand that discipline should always be in line with the child’s developmental stage, intelligence, and maturity level. Discipline is often hard, and unless it’s developmentally appropriate, it will also be ineffective.   Birth until Two Primary developmental characteristic: No sense of object permanence (the ability to trust that a person or object will not disappear once they are out of sight). Most effective discipline technique: Distraction Distraction is the most common form of discipline for very young children because they do not develop object permanence, until about the age of two. That’s why removing something from the child’s grasp or attention and replacing it with something more appropriate is the best form of correction during this phase.   Toddler, Preschool, and Early Elementary Primary developmental characteristic: Vulnerable to stimulation overload Most effective discipline techniques: Firm but soothing redirection During this phase, parents must understand that very young children act out due to stimulation overload, and not because of willingness, spitefulness, or meanness. The emotional load that a preschooler feels about something, as small as losing a toy can be equivalent to an adult coming home to discover their beloved pet has died. If this happened to you, you might fall to your knees and cry. No one would scold you for your behavior because they’d know that you were experiencing an emotional flood. When toddlers and preschoolers do the same, parents need to see that as an emotional surge, rather than willful malice or naughtiness. Time Outs When a very young child acts out, redirect their behavior calmy. Try to identify the source of overstimulating and eliminate it as best as possible. For example, many parents find that timeouts are useful at this age because it removes the child from the overstimulating event or environment. However, timeouts should be brief (about one minute per year of age), and the parent should remain in the child’s sight or within earshot. Even after the child develops object permanence, it can be traumatic for them if their parent disappears during an already upsetting event. Remaining near your child during a timeout also makes it easier …

Letting Go of Adult Children

Letting Go of Adult Children: How to Get to the Other Side of the Grief   Letting go of adult children can be extremely challenging. Some time ago, I spoke with a mother who was having a terrible time with her adult daughter. Her daughter was in her early twenties, living at home. The tension between the parents and child was becoming too much to bear. It was straining to the point of almost breaking what had long been a beautiful relationship.   She fought with her daughter regularly, nagging at her for not getting out of bed until noon and criticizing her for not being more helpful around the house. In essence, she stayed in her role as a parent to a young child while expecting her daughter to act more maturely.   When talking about her struggles, I used a phrase I often use with those who have lost a loved one. I spoke of “getting to the other side of the grief.” Rather than staying stuck on this side of grief, I talked about how rewarding one’s relationship with their adult child can be. To get there, however, parents have to walk through letting go of adult children, letting their kids make their own mistakes and find their paths. My patients breakthrough Today, my patient’s daughter no longer lives at home. She gave her daughter a deadline by which she had to move out and stuck to it. She grieved the entire time; watching her daughter move on was awfully painful. Now, however, she says she’s catching more and more glimpses of her daughter as an adult. They can discuss future career options and have even begun to collaborate on ideas for decorating her apartment.   Of course, allowing her daughter to grow up wasn’t a smooth transition. As my patient put it, letting go was “horrendously painful.” But she recognizes now that without forcing herself to walk through that pain, to “get to the other side of the grief,” they’d still be where they were, arguing and combative and deeply unhappy about their relationship.   Nowadays, many more children live with their parents into adulthood   It’s not an unfamiliar story. Many more children live with their parents into adulthood today than they did even twenty years ago. For many, the decision is primarily financial, and with proper respect for healthy boundaries, such arrangements can work …