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The Tyranny of Narcissistic Children

Posted May 31 2010 10:51pm 1 Comment

There are many roads that lead to the tyranny of a narcissistic child. Sometimes the exact reasons why a child becomes narcissistic cannot be understood completely. There is no narcissistic gene. The research and clinical study on the subject of the formation of the narcissistic character structure centers around the earliest years when the child's personality is forming. One scenario is quite common. I have known of many cases in which the young future budding narcissist was ruling the entire household, including the parents by the age of four or five. Often these children have very strong personalities and are insistent on getting their way all of the time. In some cases the parents are unable to set boundaries and appropriate standards of behavior for these very willful children. Instead of recognizing that the family is now ruled by a young tyrant, the parents make excuses for these inappropriate behaviors. They are in denial about the severity of the problem and rationalize  that it is easier and more peaceful to go along with the wishes and demands of their child than to confront them and teach them that they are required to respect their parents and siblings and learn to develop self control and empathy for others.

I hear from many parents of narcissistic children. Each story is unique. Parents can do their very best and still end up with a narcissistic child. The complexities of raisng children are tremendous. It is important to consider the temperament and disposition of the child which are inherent.

A child who is allowed to have full rein over his/her own parents and siblings learns by accumulated stages that he can do whatever he wants and there will be no consequences, no timeout, no rules that demand respect for the boundaries of another person. The narcissistic child learns very early that he/she can manipulate and intimidate mother and father by screaming at the top of his lungs for what he wants and the parent will capitulate. 

I hear from siblings of tyranical narcissistic chilren who have been treated brutally throughout their childhood and adult years. Belittling, taunting, humiliations, threats---these are the weapons that the narcisssistic child uses to erode and eclipse any sense of confidence or stability in the targeted sibling.

In some instances the narcissistic child carries these vendettas of hatred well into adulthood, making the lives of their siblings particularly miserable and often intolerable. With his or her parents standing by and allowing the abusive narcissistic child to perpetrate the highest levels of cruelty, the injured party is left without emotional support. Some of these children leave the family home early, separate their lives from these abusive environments, discover their gifts and potential  and eventually discover that they are worthy of being treated with respect, affection and compassion. Some children find that it takes them many years to recover from the abuse perpetrated by the narcissistic sibling. They participate in psychotherapy or other healing modalities and self analysis or spiritual journeys to discover their unique individuality and value. This is a tough but victorious journey to selfhood. This is a magnificent accomplishment that we can all applaud. Visit my website:


Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.

Telephone Consultation

Comments (1)
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I am the daughter and sister and parent of those with nacissism. My father has it and is still trying to be abusive to me and is abusive to my mother. My brother is a nacissist that has hurt many people including his wife and two daughters, and now I am raising a narcissistic daughter. Could you post a comment here on how to manage a child with narcissism?
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