Combat Your Teen’s Narcissism By Teaching Them Sincere Empathy

Teenagers are notorious for two things—teen angst and narcissism. In fact, many parents wonder where they went wrong in bringing up their kids to become so self-centered.

The good news is, your teen’s self-absorption is not a reflection of your parenting. They are just going through the normal phases of growing up. It turns out that being egocentric is a normal part of teen development, as it helps them figure out their unique identities separate from their families.

However, normal teen narcissism should not be confused with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). The latter is a diagnosable condition and people with the disorder normally experience difficulties in having normal lives.

Also, those with NPD often struggle to maintain healthy relationships, and the disorder usually affects their education or employment. Teens who are diagnosed with NPD require lengthy treatment and a change of environment like that provided at a therapeutic boarding school.

Dealing With Your Narcissistic Teen

The key to dealing with a self-centered teen lies in building empathy. You will need to find ways to help your teen learn how to understand and share other people’s feelings. Here are some strategies that might help.

Get your teen to volunteer.

Volunteering has several benefits for teens including opening their eyes to what others go through. Through volunteering, your teen will learn how to be a giver, not just a taker. They will come to experience the satisfaction that comes with helping those who are in need.

Help them see other alternatives.

Teens have a way of assuming other people’s behavior is somehow related to them. For instance, your teen might think that the teacher who gave him a poor grade doesn’t like him. So help your teen see that while his conclusion is a definite possibility, there could be other alternatives as well.

Don’t overindulge your teen.

Set limits on how much cash or presents you give your teen and avoid showering them with too many lavish experiences or gifts. Those only reinforce the notion that their self-worth lies in material things and showing off to others. Instead, teach your teenager that self-worth comes from the inside out and help them develop confidence in their abilities.

Limit their social media use.

Social media can encourage your teen to become superficial and obsessed with having perfect looks or material items. Limiting their screen time is a good place to start. You can also encourage them to take up other pursuits and hobbies that will help them become well-rounded teenagers instead.

Don’t shield your teen from failure.

Another excellent way to fight your teen’s narcissism is allowing them to face the consequences of their actions and not shielding them from life’s failures. Allowing your teen to experience disappointment and failure once in a while is actually good for their healthy development. Just remember to equip them with the necessary problem-solving skills to address situations on their own should they get into trouble.

While it’s normal for teens to be a little narcissistic, you should still encourage your teen to change their behavior by instilling the values of empathy in them.

Author of this article, Tyler Jacobson, enjoys going to the mountains near his home in Draper, Utah to connect with his wife and children through camping, hiking, and quality time together. When he isn’t rebooting in the outdoors, he shares his fatherly experiences with the world through writing and creative work. Tyler shares the ups and downs of family life and the solutions he’s found through lengthy research and involvement in the industry and his own experiences to help parents everywhere. Follow Tyler on: Twitter