In a culture where anyone can voice their opinions in online forums and post hundreds of selfies for all their friends to see, it is not surprising that narcissism is a more common trait among millennials than it has been in previous generations. This is definitely a product of conditioning on both a large and small scale, which means that there are ways you can reduce narcissistic tendencies in your child while giving them some perspective on the real world. To avoid raising a narcissist and improve your parenting skills in the process, try these strategies for instilling a broader worldview in your child.
Travel to new areas
It’s important for children to see that not everybody lives the same way. Exposure to new cultures is an enlightening experience, and it does not have to be an expensive adventure. Even just traveling to another state or smaller town can be a significant change of scenery that gives your child something to think about. You might also consider taking a camping trip or spending more time outdoors, since an appreciation for nature can let your child feel safe putting down the phone or stepping away from the TV screen.
Keep “no” in your vocabulary
There has been a strong shift toward avoiding negativity and saying no when it comes to raising a child. Unfortunately, the world is full of negativity, so children may be in for rude awakenings if they have not been told no by their own parents. While it is not always easy to deny your child of something he or she wants, you may need to put your foot down and refuse to bend when your child attempts to throw a tantrum.
Set high expectations
When children have distinct boundaries and goals, they respond positively and have greater focus in their school and home lives. Simply holding your child responsible for achieving good grades in school, doing a few household chores, and participating in structured extracurricular activities can go a long way. Do not be afraid to set high standards for risk of failure, since learning to accept failure and move on is a much more valuable lesson than never experiencing failure in the first place.
Reduce your social media use
Social media plays a big role in narcissistic behaviors, and it is not just limited to how children use social media sites. These days, Facebook is full of parents who are “over-sharenting” with a constant barrage of photos and status updates about their kids. When children observe parents obsessing over them, they tend to become fairly self-centered as a result. Plus, having a social media presence before the age of 13 can pave the way for a lifetime of fixation on one’s social media reputation.
Speak to your child in realistic terms
In addition to saying no to your child, you should remember not to talk down to your child. Sometimes the truth can go a long way—especially when it is put into clear and simple terms. This is particularly important during toddlerhood when children are naturally self-absorbed. They associate everything with themselves, because they are only just developing a sense of the world around them. It is helpful when parents help kids stay grounded during this phase by skipping the baby talk and having real conversations with their children.
No parent is perfect, and there is always room for improvement, which may be as simple as learning to not put your child at the center of the universe.