How to teach self-esteem without teaching narcissism

As someone who has always wanted a child I have often thought about how amazing it would be to shape someone’s life. I envisaged myself reading the latest parenting books, written by child psychologists and experts. One of the reasons parenthood is such a huge responsibility is that early childhood experiences can shape a person’s personality, beliefs and approach to life.


Interestingly in previous generations there was a big emphasis on boosting children’s self-esteem which inadvertently led to some parents teaching their kids entitlement – one of the essential ingredients of narcissism.


If you are thinking of starting a family or already have one of your own here are some useful tips on how to encourage your child’s self-esteem without teaching them entitlement.



How to encourage a narcissist to have empathy

This is a difficult one. The number one rule of getting along with a narcissist is not to question their thinking or rational. However, when they aren’t showing you any empathy and you are having difficulty in your relationship with them a little empathy from them goes a long way in potentially solving the relational issue. The best way to cushion the criticism is therefore to start with a positive and end with how you feel.


For example:


I love how you used to listen to me, it made me feel very understood and special. Recently I have been feeling sad and rejected because I sense a difference in how you listen to me. Please may you try to listen to me the way you did back then now?


Why narcissists never suspect they are narcissists


One of the core elements of narcissism is that narcissists cannot acknowledge or accept their weaknesses as they find it too threatening to their sense of self. In order to compensate for their weaknesses they present a flashy charismatic persona to the world in a bid to cover their true self, often becoming consumed with love for the false self they present to the world and using the admiration or attention from others to feed their often fragile egos.


It’s not surprising therefore to understand why narcissists are the last to suspect that they are in fact narcissists – this is simply just too threatening to their sense of self.



How to tell if someone is moderately narcissistic

There are many ways to tell if someone is moderately narcissistic. Ask yourself the following questions and rate the person in question out of ten, 10 being very much so and 1 being not at all.


  1. How hard does the person find it to forgive others?
  2. How hard does the person find it to say sorry?
  3. Does the person ever get angry or ignore those who question them or their opinions?
  4. Does the person always have to be right?
  5. Does the person ever agree to disagree with others?
  6. Does the person continually and consistently commandeer conversations?


How to get along with a narcissist when you have to

If you really have no choice but to try to get along with a narcissist there are things you can do to make the relationship smoother. Here are my top tips for getting along with a narcissist, please do let me know if you have some of your own.


  • Don’t make demands and lower your expectations
  • Listen – A LOT
  • Give affirmations and positive comments to them often


How to recover from a toxic relationship with a narcissist


The devastation a narcissist can leave in their wake can be awful. As someone who has rebuilt their life after a toxic relationship with a narcissist I can say that life can be happy, meaningful and beautiful again, however unlikely that may seem when you first make the split.


Below are my top tips in order of priority for recovering from a toxic relationship with a narcissist, please do let me know if you have any tips of your own to add.


  1. Narcissists can work to isolate you from friends and family to gain more control over you. Take time to nurture relationships with friends and family to strengthen your support network and explain to them why you maybe haven’t seen them much during your last relationship.


  1. Most narcissists lack boundaries and often they may expect to dictate how you spend your free time (which they usually say has to be with them). One of the first steps towards healing should therefore be to learn assertiveness so as to protect you from similar hurt in future. Please read ‘How to free yourself and assert your rights’ which looks at how to protect your own personal rights that you were born with. Please also read ‘Assertiveness: A Journey Worth Taking’ to discover how to create healthy boundaries in your future relationships.


Top tips for disengaging with narcissists

Being in a relationship with a narcissist can be very damaging, whether they be a friend, partner, co-worker or boss. Here are my top tips for disengaging from their very often cruel games.


  1. If working with a narcissist always write emails copying others in so the credit for your work remains yours.
  2. Focus on the good areas of your life outside of the relationship and distract yourself from the relationship as much as possible.
  3. Do not take their aggressive bait – ever. Remember being in conflict with a narcissist makes them feel powerful and feeds into their ego.
  4. Try to remember most abusive comments from a narcissist are projections of the parts of themselves they can’t accept because they find it too threatening to their sense of self.
  5. Create healthy boundaries and don’t accept them violating them – if they have a tantrum, let them.


What is the difference between psychopaths, sociopaths and clinical narcissists?

With films like Psycho and Gone Girl being ever popular the fascination in the public and on the media with psychopaths, sociopaths and narcissists is at an all time high. What many find confusing is just what distinguishes a psychopath from a sociopath from a clinical narcissist. Whilst these conditions all have much in common there are certain differences.


See below for the definition of each one if you too have ever pondered the question what is the difference between a narcissist, psychopath and sociopath.


Is narcissism becoming an epidemic?

Coverage of narcissism has exploded in the media over the past several years but in truth it has always existed, so is narcissism really becoming an epidemic or are we just more aware of it?


In the eighties there was a huge drive to instil self-esteem in children, but rather than instilling self-esteem and teaching children that they have an inherent worth what has been suggested is that entitlement was taught to the new generation. For example ‘you deserve it’, and a ‘you can have anything you set your eyes on’ attitude. In addition the media has simultaneously promoted a ‘you can have anything’ mentality that has resonated with recent generations.



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