Narcissistic Behaviors You Might Be Unintentionally Passing On To Your Kids

Narcissistic Behaviors You Might Be Unintentionally Passing On To Your Kids

No parent is perfect, and that’s okay! However, there are certain behaviors that might seem harmless but can unintentionally encourage narcissism in our children. If you want to raise empathetic, grounded kids, it’s important to recognize the subtle ways you might be passing on self-centered tendencies. Identifying the habits to break can help ensure we’re not unintentionally raising little narcissists.

1. You constantly overpraise them, even when it’s not deserved.

It’s natural to want your kids to feel good about themselves, but there’s a fine line between healthy encouragement and excessive praise. When kids get constant applause for simply existing, it can inflate their sense of self-importance and make them believe they’re superior to others. As research cited by The New Republic reveals, this is a surefire way to turn your kid into a narcissist. Instead of generic praise, focus on specific efforts and accomplishments to foster a more grounded sense of self-worth.

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2. You always make excuses for their bad behavior.

Kids need to learn that actions have consequences. If you constantly shield them from accountability or blame other people or outside forces for their mistakes, they won’t develop a sense of personal responsibility. This can breed entitlement and a belief that they’re infallible and can do no wrong.

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3. You focus too much on external validation.

Emphasizing things like appearance, social status, or material possessions teaches kids that their worth comes from what they have, not who they are. This can make them obsessed with outward appearances at the expense of developing their inner qualities like empathy, kindness, and integrity.

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4. You compare them to other children.

Whether the comparisons are positive or negative, they send a message that your child’s value is measured against others. This encourages competition rather than self-acceptance. Instead, focus on their unique strengths and help them celebrate their own progress.

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5. You can’t tolerate hearing anything negative about them.

If you react defensively to any hint of criticism towards your child, you’re teaching them they are above reproach. Everyone makes mistakes and has room to grow. Help your child understand that constructive feedback is an opportunity for improvement, not a personal attack.

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6. You brag about their achievements excessively.

It’s wonderful to be proud of your kids, but excessive bragging can breed arrogance. It also puts unnecessary pressure on your child to constantly live up to an inflated image. Let their accomplishments speak for themselves and allow them to develop a healthy sense of pride without an audience.

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7. You give them everything they want without making them work for it.

When kids are handed everything on a silver platter, they don’t learn the value of effort or the satisfaction of delayed gratification. This can create a sense of entitlement and make them ill-equipped to handle challenges and disappointments in life.

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8. You treat them like they’re the center of the universe.

It’s important for kids to feel loved and valued, but when you prioritize their every need and whim over everyone else’s, you risk raising a self-centered person. Teach them the importance of consideration, compromise, and recognizing that the world doesn’t revolve around them.

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9. You use guilt or manipulation to get them to do what you want.

Phrases like “you don’t love me” or “after everything I’ve done for you” teach kids to use emotional blackmail. Let them understand that healthy relationships aren’t built on guilt trips but on mutual respect and communication.

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10. You expect them to fulfill your own unachieved dreams.

Putting the weight of your own ambitions onto your child denies them the freedom to explore their own passions and path in life. Let them discover who they are and support them in their unique journey, even if it diverges from what you’d envisioned. Living vicariously through your kids does have a few upsides, per research cited by Inc., but it’s an ultimately harmful behavior to both you and them.

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11. You never apologize to them, even when you’re wrong.

Parents make mistakes too. Refusing to admit when you’re wrong teaches kids that it’s okay to be stubborn and deflect blame. Model humility, own your mistakes, and show them that sincere apologies are part of being a responsible person.

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12. You criticize or belittle their feelings.

Dismissing your child’s emotions with phrases like “don’t be so sensitive” or “stop crying” teaches them to suppress their feelings. Help them identify their emotions, express them healthily, and understand that it’s okay to feel sad, angry, or frustrated sometimes.

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13. You focus more on their achievements than their character.

Emphasizing straight As, trophies, or accolades above all else sends the message that results matter more than the person they are becoming. Instead, praise them for their kindness, helpfulness, and perseverance – these qualities matter far more in the long run.

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14. You’re always trying to “fix” them.

Constantly pointing out your child’s flaws or areas for improvement can chip away at their self-esteem. Focus on their strengths, embrace their quirks, and let them know you love them unconditionally, even if they’re not perfect.

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15. You talk badly about other people in front of them.

If you constantly gossip, criticize, or judge others, your kids will learn to do the same. Model compassion, acceptance, and focus on the positive qualities of others to raise open-minded and kind children.

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16. You value image and appearances over authenticity.

If you obsess over outward appearances, social status, or material possessions, your kids will internalize this value system. Teach them that true worth comes from their character, actions, and the connections they make, not from external markers of success.

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Phoebe Mertens is a writer, speaker, and strategist who has helped dozens of female-founded and led companies reach success in areas such a finance, tech, science, and fashion. Her keen eye for detail and her innovative approach to modern womanhood makes her one of the most sought-out in her industry, and there's nothing she loves more than to see these companies shine.

With an MBA from NYU's Stern School of Business and features in Forbes and Fast Company she Phoebe has proven she knows her stuff. While she doesn't use social media, she does have a private Instagram just to look at pictures of cats.