Unfortunately, narcissism is all around us. The pressure to succeed (or even simply keep your head above ground) causes many people to lose their altruistic nature. The end up becoming just another rat in the big race to the top. It’s important for parents to stop this trend in its tracks by instilling selfless values in their children that may be contradictory to society’s view of “success,” but will ultimately lead to true happiness.
To avoid raising a narcissistic child, parents should do the following:
1. Learn to say “no” and mean it
Giving in to a child’s demands every time they throw a tantrum simply teaches them that they will always get their way if they complain enough. Adults know that in the real world, this simply isn’t true. Children need to learn from a young age to delay their gratification, or even resign themselves to the fact that; this time, they won’t be getting what they want. This will teach them to respect authority, thus helping them avoid trouble in their careers later in life.
2. Teach them basic manners
I guess this should be obvious, but there’s a difference between being simply indifferent to others and being friendly to them. In today’s society, there’s a misconception that it’s somehow “okay” to be rude to people in some positions (like assuming a custodian will clean up after you because “it’s their job”). However. the truth is it’s never okay. Teach your children to appreciate the efforts of others that go toward making this world a better place, no matter how prestigious their position may or may not be.
3. Teach them to manage frustration
Everyone gets frustrated once in a while, but not everyone handles their frustration the same way. Minor setbacks can be annoying, but they shouldn’t completely derail your progress. Unfortunately, there’s another misconception in society; especially in schools, where earning an “F” means you’re stupid and will never succeed. We must instill in our children the notion that failure is not a dead-end, but is simply a bump in the road on the path to success. Children need to understand the only way failure can stop them is if they let it.
4. Teach them life isn’t always fair
If life was fair to everyone, we’d all win the lottery every time we played it. Of course, that would mean we would all split the prize pool and end up getting our money back. (How’s that for a metaphor?) Really, though, there’s no supreme being that decides who has a good day and who has a bad one, no matter how much it may seem like it some days. What we can do for our children is help them recognize the times when things are going well, or well enough, and remind them of these times when things aren’t going so great. The hope is to instill in our children the notion that, in the long run, what we gain in this life is solely up to us.
5. Be kind to everyone
I alluded to this before, but I feel the need to reiterate that we need to teach our children to respect every single person we come across in our lives. We can do this by modeling kindness to everyone we meet – from the well-dressed businessman to the poor homeless man outside the convenience store. Don’t dismiss someone over a prejudicial thought. You never know who can walk into your life and change it forever. Teaching children to respect everyone will lead them toward a life of open-mindedness and incredible experiences.
6. Travel with them
Speaking of experiences, you should show your kids there’s more to life than their home and local community. Other towns, states, and countries all have minor and major differences in the way in which life is lived. It’s important that children understand this from a young age. It will help them gain worldly perspective. More importantly, they won’t grow up thinking the universe revolves around them. Showing your children other ways of living will open their minds to the myriad possibilities for their future.
7. Read with them
If you can’t travel at the current time, read with your children instead. Read all sorts of texts: picture books, nature books, novels, kid-friendly newspapers… anything you can get your hands on! First of all, your children will carry a love of reading with them throughout their lives. Secondly, they will gain vast knowledge about the world around them, becoming less self-centered in the process.
8, Do chores with them
The sooner children learn that life isn’t all fun and games, the better. Children don’t innately understand that hard work pays off. They don’t get that their house looks nice because you’ve spent hours cleaning it, or that they can have a nice vacation because you’ve sacrificed time and energy throughout the year. Give them a list of chores, but help them through it. Take a picture of their room before they clean it, and compare it to how it looks after. Give them something concrete so they understand how their efforts have positively affected their lives. They might hate washing the dishes every night, but they’ll understand that it needs to be done – and why they should be the ones to do it.
Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm5.staticflickr.com