How to NOT Raise a Narcissist

Now, how not to raise a narcissist. Let’s understand how not to raise a narcissist and what to do about this situation. First of all, do not avoid the truth, the reality. A lot of parents think, “Oh, by not addressing the situation, by not talking about the emotions, by not going in deep, they’ll be able to protect the child.” Of course not. That is wrong at so many levels. You are the same parent. You are the dual parent who has to play the role of both parents; you are the father, you are the mother. So, unfortunately, it is a big responsibility, but it is yours. You have to address things as they are, meaning you have to help your children regulate their emotions. You can’t blindly enable them. You have to be aware of your own shame and guilt that you feel, and you can’t let any of that come in your way. If you recognize there is underindulgence from that side, you have to indulge but not overly. Meaning, you have to be warm, you have to be affectionate, you have to be healthy, but in the right way. You can’t always give them the chocolate, the toffee, the video game, and this and that. No, you have to learn how to attune to them. You have to regulate yourself emotionally so that you can help them regulate their own emotions. In fact, there is a principle, there is something that I follow that I have created: ALVRE. It’s an acronym: A stands for attunement, L stands for listening, R stands for regulation, V stands for validation, and E stands for empowerment. If you were to follow this principle, what you would be doing is knowing how to attune with your child. Sometimes physically sit with them, look into their eyes. If they’re throwing a tantrum, maybe it’s not a tantrum; they don’t feel safe, they don’t want to do something. It’s not that they are being disobedient; they just don’t know what to do with all the stress they feel. Of course, their nervous systems are overly sensitive because they are experiencing what no child should experience. Then, listen actively. Not to reply, but to listen properly. What is the root cause of the problem? You have to be the coach they can’t get to have in their other parent. And then, you have to validate their worries, no matter how irrational they seem and sound to you. Don’t personalize them, don’t make them about yourself unconsciously. See it for what it is and listen to their worries. Whatever their worry is, validate their pain, validate their sadness, validate what they’re telling you. For example, if such a child tells you, “You know what? Mommy or daddy does not love me,” why? Because so and so happens, there’s a situation that supports this example. But the idea is, the child says, “Mommy or daddy does not love me.” Now, out of your protective nature, what you could do is you might want to say, “Oh no, that’s not right. He or she loves you in their own way; they love you.” Because you’re afraid that if you tell them the truth, they will be hurt. But what you are not realizing is that you’re unconsciously gaslighting them. This is not the truth, and they know deep down, no matter how much you tell them, yes, it will confuse them, but they’re not going to believe it. So, what can you do to validate them? In this situation, you can say, “Yes, unfortunately, it is. How you say it, and I’m so sad that that is what you are going through. But let me tell you this, I love you deeply.” At least validate the child’s feelings. A lot of experts on narcissism will tell you, “Oh, don’t tell the child about the real nature of the narcissist.” I’m against it. I say, show them what they are seeing. At least validate it. You don’t have to use the word “narcissist.” If they’re pointing out behaviors to you, don’t cover them up, don’t say, “Oh no, no, this and that.” Don’t distract them. Acknowledge and validate, and then connect to redirect. Help them understand what is the alternative if they feel like their other parent does not love them. Don’t say no, no, no, they do. Say, “I love you. I’m sorry that is what you get to experience; it shouldn’t be that way, and a child shouldn’t feel that way with their parent. But I love you deeply.” Then help them regulate their emotions. There are various ways to do it, you know, for example, play therapy, there are self-regulation techniques, a lot of stuff. But help them regulate their emotions, maybe sometimes just cry it out, let them throw that tantrum. Finally, empower them to think for themselves. Ask open-ended questions, questions like, “If this happens again, what do you think you can say? What do you think you can do? What is the best thing to do?” Hold on to it. It is not my fault because they will be made to believe it is their fault. So just program them the right way.

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