Is my daughter a Narcissist? and if so, what can I do to change this behavior?

Debbie - posted on 07/14/2011 ( 17 moms have responded )

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I was told by a child counselor my 6 year old daughter is a narcissist and hopefully she grows out of it. My daughter is all about herself and has a fit if she does not get her way. She screams at her father and I and slams doors when she gets into trouble. There is not a day that goes by she is not spending time in her room. We have tried reasoning with her, but that does not work. We end up screaming and spanking. Any advice you can give two exhausted parents?

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Bob - posted on 04/19/2013

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Ok I know a narcissistic child and I will tell you all about her then you can compare. She needs 300% constant attention . She will make noises dance around ask stupid questions or intentionally behave poorly to get attention 24/7. She is extremely controlling and has to control everyone around her one way or another. She contradicts everything anyone says every minute of the day. That's whether she's right or wrong. Like if you say look at the moth she will immediately say no that's a butterfly.
She will moan on occasion or complain but the screaming thing not so much she is cold and calculating and it is very creepy.
She things the universe revolves around her only.
Ok compare this to your child's behavior and see if she fits the bill.

Kristin - posted on 07/25/2011

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I have one "diva" 6-year-old. I would wonder if my parenting style had caused this, but she has a twin sister who doesn't exhibit the defiant behavior, so rest assured that some kids just naturally push the envelope a whole lot farther than others!
That being said, I have done lots of reading and talking about this very issue, because their father IS a narcissist, and even though he's been out of the house for 18 months now, I see that behavior as all-too-familiar.
What I found was quite counter-intuitive, at least at first, for me. I tried reasoning, and of course there is still consequence for the behavior (consistent consequence is CRITICAL for the boundary-pushing sweeties!), but the thing I have found most effective, hands-down, when she is prickly, is a hug. It's easier if you catch the situation before it gets really out of hand (i.e. once voices are raised, it's harder to get everyone calm enough to say, "Hey, I could use a hug now. Could you use one, too?", but since I tried that, wow. It has led to more than one cuddle in the comfy chair where quiet tears flowed (sometimes from both of us). Such a change from how it was when I was trying to find a way to punish her that seemed to mean anything to her. Everything I tried had no effect except make her madder. I could tell it wasn't effective, but had gotten into the pattern of thinking that she was trying to break my resolve or something. It seemed like a power struggle to me, but then that didn't sit right... it was something else. As someone else said, above, it *was* a need for attention, and as someone else said, many 6-year-olds (although my daughter started this loveliness at 5) have a hard time expressing their emotions appropriately. The hug has been working wonders. I hope it works for you.
I also have been giving her some ways to self-calm when her hair-trigger temper goes off. Count to 10, say the alphabet, think of 5 different animals, etc, before you say or do ANYTHING else. She KNOWS it's not right to strike out or throw something, but in the heat of the moment she "can't help it". I tell her that's not OK, and there is a consequence for her actions (which she's always bummed about), and remind her to take a step back from the situation and let the anger flow through and drip out her fingers so she can think again, BEFORE she acts in a way that isn't appropriate. There have been fewer episodes, so something is working. And discussing it all in the midst of a snuggle has made it WAY easier on both of us.
Good luck. :)

Sarah - posted on 07/25/2011

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I work in family counselling and am appalled that your child at age 6 would be given this label by a trained counsellor. As others have posted developmentally it is very normal for children this age to be ego-centric. Our job is to help teach them the skills to regulate strong feelings, to learn to empathize with others as well as to deal with the consequences of their actions. That's why modelling respect, empathy and self-regulation ourselves works well. Easy to say and very hard to do....Children can press our buttons like no-one else. The approach I'm talking about is called 'Emotion Coaching' and if you are interested google Thomas Phelan. In my humble opinion I think parents are over-focused on controlling their children's behaviour and imposing consequences, when 'good' behaviour often results from a strong parent-child bond and children feeling validated and understood by their parents. People also often mistakenly believe that approaches such as emotion coaching are too soft and slack on boundaries, when this is not the case, rather they suggest we need to consider and address emotions first, then set appropriate boundaries...Emotion coaching works best with lower key emotions so best to try talking with your daughter before she loses it or give her time to cool down before you address the situation. Goodluck with your daughter and I hope this is helpful.

Virginia/ Suzy - posted on 07/17/2011

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First thing I would advise is get a new counselor. Then I agree with most of what everyone else has said. It is normal for a 6 year old to be all about themselves. Set rules and stick to them. When she breaks them stick to the consequences. If you haven't watched super nanny watch a couple episodes. It will help you set limits and show you how to use time out effectively. You might also want to consider some mild adhd meds if she is diagnosed with this. We did and our daughter is a different child. Hope this helps and God bless you and yours.

Heather - posted on 07/26/2011

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First: Get a new therapist
Second: Read, read then re-read the post from Kristin Maloney and implement those techniques!

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Heather - posted on 06/08/2014

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I would like to reply to Bob. That is my stepdaughter all day. 8 now and progressing. I love the counselors and parents of the world who refuse to acknowledge that its possible not all children are born of pure innocence. Her father is a narcissist, but its not like hers. He is much more bearable. I would love to hear anything that has helped you curb or cope with the beyond frustrating behavior.

Barbara - posted on 04/24/2013

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I can not believe you can label a child of 6 as a narcissist. The child is 6 and is learning about behavior and also independence to see what they can get a way from. You and your husband do have to make ground rules for the child to understand and you have to stay focus and have lots of patience with the child. Good luck.

Dawn - posted on 08/03/2011

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i thnk that you need to seek out a new therapist.a 6 year old a nacissist?! well then every 6 year old that acts out (and most do) could be considered narcissists. you should take away every toy, book ,crayons markers , everything she enjoys out of her room. yea it's a hassle to pull all her toys ad stuff out, but do it and be consistent . also take away time with friends and outdoor time. do these things consistently and the behavior will change. As i said before it's rediculous for any therapist to think that a child this young could be a narcissist when a children of this age range have brains that are still developing. i would get a new therapist if you still think your child needs one, and i would also talk with your childs pediatrician, but try out what i suggest and be consistent with it. she'll cry and moan and even scream over it for awhile and that part will drive you crazy , but it won't go on forever. i will warn you though that the minute you give in to her and lose that consistency with the punishement will be the very minute you'll be giving her power over you and she'll misbehave all over again because she'll know that she can get away with it.

Sherry - posted on 08/03/2011

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I have a daughter the same way. She is 7. The thearpist told me it is O.D.D. and she will grow out of it. I hope so it is tough being a parent sometimes.

Raquel - posted on 08/02/2011

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I will advise that you do not give in to her tantrums. She will soon realize that her behaviour is not getting her what she wants, and she will soon adjusts.

Althea - posted on 07/30/2011

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I agree with Heather and Kristin. Instead of a hug, I had to do caresses on my daughters lower back. A hug earned me a couple of black eyes when she was 3. Caresses still does the trick, espescially to calm her down until the "head static" has gone away enough to talk together.

Diana - posted on 07/25/2011

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I completely agree with everyone else. I don't think there is a 6-year-old alive that doesn't consider themselves the center of the universe especially if it is the oldest child because they are often the center of your universe. LOL. I have 2 girls 11 & 9. My older one gives me a run for my money still. She threw tantrums like no ones business. For her time in her room was the worst punishment ever & would set her over the edge. My rule is that you can be upset, but door slamming is a no-no because you could pinch your fingers or someone elses. I used to sit her in a time out. I assure you that she still continued to scream. Remember...it is ok for them to get angry and upset over things. The best thing that my therapist suggested (yep, she drove me to therapy because I wanted to learn what I could do to help my little diva.) was a time-out...for me. When she would really start having a screaming hissy-fit complete with stomping, crying, & growling my therapist suggested that I put her in a safe place like her room and put myself somewhere where like the porch until I can take a deep breath & think about what the real cause of the tantrum is and come up with a solution. They do it because they want a reaction from you. It doesn't matter if it is negative or positive as long as they are getting a response. When they realize that they are not going to get it eventually they stop. If you don't feel comfortable leaving the room while they are screaming, take a walk around the house to a window where you can watch them, but they can't see you. You would be amazed at some of the silly things they when they think you're not watching.

My Grammy used to be the Queen of Distraction. She would get a concerned look on her face like she was listening to something and would then shush us and ask, "Did you hear that?!" Often with some sniffling and a hiccup we would fall for it and ask what she heard. Then she would make up something. Sometimes it was the imaginary baby crying that we woke up or she would make up something silly like the we the monkeys from the zoo calling for us. The louder you would get, the quieter she would talk. I sure do miss her & her wisdom.

Sometimes it just gets just as overwhelming for us as it does for them. Haven't you ever had a day when you would like to through yourself on the ground & kick your feet? LOL.

Kat - posted on 07/21/2011

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Ignoring the behaviour can only get you so far. Consenquence; not punishment and rewards is the better way to raise children. When your child is calm, tell her the plan. When she is very angry she can choose to call a time-out and then discuss the behaviour when everyone is calmer. This works with my daughters 6 & 9 yr old boys.
The problem with rewards is that the incentive may be extrensent rather than intrensent, meaning they are only good if you bribe them with something they really want. Consenquence says. "NO!" or "Yes!" in a calm firm voice. We all have consenquences; as adults they're called laws with fines and/or imprisionments levied for undesired behaviour. It's not a perfect system but it is better than nothing. Time outs can be a consenquence -- I use to tell my children to get in control of their anger or I'll help them get in control of it. Not with spanking or screaming or threats, but with consenquences to their behaviour. I hope this helps. In the mean while, pray for patience and endurance to see you through your tough parenting days ahead.

Jessie - posted on 07/14/2011

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I would try videotaping her fit and show it to her later. I wouldn't reason with her when she is acting up. You remain calm and say this is how it is in this house. Either accept it and enjoy the benefits of good behavior or don't and suffer consequences of bad behavior.

Karen - posted on 07/14/2011

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My 6 yr. old does the same thing also. I notice he listens better if I stay calm and firm with him. But it does get frustrating sometimes and we both end up screaming at him. But when we are firm and consistent, he knows we mean buisness. My 7yr. old is in the attitude stage now so it's the same thing for him as well. He is harder to deal with but is learning slowly. I don't mean to discourage you, but it will probably get worse before it gets better. Just try to find some way to calm yourself down before punishing. It's hard but keep practicing it because you'll probably need it later down the road.

[deleted account]

I agree with teresa, I dont think shes a narcissist. Since the screaming and spanking doesnt work I would stop doing both. I would take her door off the next time she slams it. Being serious. Theres not much reasoning with a six yr old. She needs to know clearly..if she does not listen or throws fits then "blank" is the consequence. She doesnt pick up toys, they get donated. I commend u on trying to fix this now instead of waiting to see if she grows out of it...you have to follow through, it doesnt make u a bad parent it makes you a respected mom and dad. My five year old can be a diva and try to challenege me but by following through and remaining calm, she knows I mean what I say. My kids also know I mean what I say when its positive and they get rewarded.

Teresa - posted on 07/14/2011

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According to your definitions, I don't know any 6-year-old that isn't a narcissist. AT that age, a kid's world is really all about them. Here, the screaming and slamming doors gets a spanking and time sitting in a place that he does not have any stimulation, thus NOT in his room. My son is seven, and after an outbreak of bad attitude, he gets told to change it or get a spanking. Sometimes I still have to pop the butt but he usually straightens up. My son is seven and he still sives a good pouting and whining session, but he is learning even that is not accepted.If I try to get him to do his reading homework he'll tell me, "but I don't WANT to do it." where I tell him, "I don't care if you don't want to. you will or...."then there's a consequence where then he'll start bargaining and we get to an agreement. Finally he gets so wrapped up in finishing the homework, he forgot that he didn't want to do it to begin with. Screaming. Does not help or work. Giving a consequence and following up no matter how inconvenient or upsetting to you because she is tearing your heart out, does work.

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