What is your understanding of what narcissism is? It’s often misunderstood and overused. Anyone who talks a bit much about themselves or seems to enjoy dressing up can often be referred to as a narcissist when they may just have great self-confidence. In truth, narcissism goes a bit deeper than that.
Signs of a narcissist teen
How can you know whether your teen is genuinely narcissistic or just exceptionally confident in who they are? Some of the hallmarks of a narcissist include the following.
- An unusually large or inflated sense of being superior over others
- Manipulative behavior, often without any remorse at all
- Often exaggerating any of their accomplishments or achievements, if not outright making them up
- An inability to empathize with anyone else
- Behavior that appears to be haughty, arrogant, or rude
- A strong focus on their looks and their status in life
While it may seem contrary to their behavior, many narcissistic teens also struggle with anxiety and depression.
Parenting your narcissistic teen
Just how can you parent a teen who may feel that they are superior to you? How can you take steps to introduce and reinforce boundaries with a teen who thinks that they know better than you do?
- Give your teen more positive attention. Despite their behavior to the contrary, teens want our time, attention, and approval. Spending more time with your teen and reassuring them that they are appreciated and loved for who they are can go a long way in helping them to cope and adjust to the changes that life throws at them.
- Be sure to provide positive reinforcement versus criticism when dealing with your teen. No one likes to be criticized or told that they aren’t doing things the right way. Positive reinforcement can help your teen get the confidence boost they need without feeding into their narcissism.
- If you aren’t focused on materialism, status, and symbols of status like certain brands, you can provide your teen with the positive role model they need. Social media and the media at large often put a high value on specific brands. This particularly influences teens because they want to stay trendy and be in the know. Remind them that most of the world truly doesn’t pay attention to their jeans, whether they cost $10 or $100.
- If your teen is fixated on spending money to get the latest and greatest things, this is a good chance for you to teach them about responsible financial habits. They may roll their eyes or tell you they’re too young to learn about responsible spending. But, it’s never too soon to know how to save, plan for the future, and think before spending on something non-essential.
- Be aware of what your teen is posting on social media and the accounts they are interacting with online. Are they posting inappropriate pictures? Are they behaving inappropriately? If your teen is being cruel or rude to others on social media, this is your opportunity to step in and correct their behavior. It may feel fun and funny to bash someone online today, but nobody truly likes a bully.
- Pay attention to your teen’s behavior in general. Have they stopped going to gymnastics or dance class? Do they no longer play video games? Any changes in your teen’s behavior should be something you note as a potential red flag. These can often signal that your teen is struggling with anxiety and depression.
You are in the best position to help your teen break free from the narcissism controlling their lives and likely impacting everyone around them. Keep in mind that teens are particularly vulnerable to those negative influences that may make them feel superior, self-centered, and lack empathy.
Getting your teen professional help
If it feels like your teen’s behavior has progressed to the degree that you need to get outside help, you shouldn’t hesitate to do so. Many parents feel as though they can handle everything on their own.
After all, you know your teen better than anyone else does. The truth is that some of the concerns that crop up during the teen years are things that none of us had to deal with during our teen years. We can’t understand how teens and the behavior that they’re displaying are all being impacted by peer pressure, social media, and the world in general.
Getting your teen help from a professional better versed in teen behavior will hugely benefit everyone in the family. Some of the support your teen could benefit from may include the following.
- Individual therapy can allow your teen a safe and confidential space to talk through the things that are bothering them or impacting their lives.
- Family therapy can help each family member learn how to communicate better. In these sessions, each family member can understand how things make them feel and how they can better react to these triggers.
- Group therapy can allow your teen to spend time with other teens who may be struggling with narcissism or may have other behavior issues to work through. These peer group sessions can benefit a teen who may feel like no one understands what they are feeling and experiencing. Not only can they connect with teens and make new friends, but they may learn a new approach to working through their struggles.
- Medication may be an option for some teenagers. While medications can be very effective and helpful for some teens, it’s important to note that not all teens will respond positively to medication therapy. That said, many do respond well. The best way to determine whether medication therapy is the right choice for your teen is to discuss it with their pediatrician and a psychiatrist.
Getting your teen the correct type of help is essential to helping them find their footing and get back on track with a positive approach and outlook.
At HelpYourTeenNow we can work with parents looking for resources to help them with their teens. Whether you’re looking for group sessions or an inpatient facility, we can offer you a connection to the resources that your family needs.