Parental narcissism can be a difficult and painful experience for a child, because they can be self-centered and lack empathy, making it difficult for their children to feel seen or heard. However, there are ways to help your child cope with parental narcissism and mitigate its effects. 

How to Help Your Children Cope

Psychology experts say that children may suffer in several ways when living with or sharing time with a narcissistic parent: 

  • Low self-esteem
  • Chronic self-blame 
  • Insecure attachment style
  • Fierce independence or unhealthy codependency
  • Indecision and doubt
  • Can’t focus on own needs
  • Narcissism

Unfortunately, these things can affect the way your child grows up: They may grow up feeling anxious, depressed, insecure, or even fall into NPD themselves. 

So how can you, as their other parent, help protect them and practice healthy coping mechanisms? 

Don’t Speak Poorly of the Other Parent

Always be the bigger person and never speak badly about the other parent in front of your child. 

When you speak poorly about the other parent, you’re trying to convince them to think the way you do, which is a type of parental alienation. This will confuse your children and put them in a position where they feel unsafe and must choose between their parents. 

The time will come when they get older and will understand how they were affected as a child, but it’s essential not to pull them into adult-only issues. And, as the designated calm parent, you can help your child have a better sense of security, safety, and trust. 

Maintain a Consistent Schedule and Structure

Unfortunately, narcissistic parents have a notorious lack of presence and/or consistency. Some days, the parent may be in a great mood, while a minor thing can tick them off and put them into a rage. Other times they’re nowhere to be seen because they are off doing something else. 

You can’t always control what goes on at the other parent’s home. But when your child is with you, it’s time to stay consistent. 

That’s because children thrive from routine. One study shows that, just like adults, children do better when their daily activities and schedules are predictable and familiar. With a consistent schedule, they will feel more comfortable, confident, secure, and in control of themselves and their environment. 

Help Build Positive Traits In Your Children

Children are malleable creatures, which means they learn a lot from their environments and the people around them. When your kids are with you, take every opportunity to help build and enforce positive traits, such as: 

  • Self-soothing techniques, like breathing, instead of throwing tantrums
  • Understanding that everybody makes mistakes, including adults
  • Model healthy communication because narcissistic parents tend to guilt trip and gaslight with unpredictable emotions
  • Encourage individuality, so they have a strong sense of self 

Document Any Potential Abuse

It’s not uncommon for narcissistic parents to resort to emotional, mental, or physical abuse. It’s a sad yet important truth to understand — so if you suspect your children are being abused in any way, be sure to report every aspect of the incident, such as:

  • What you noticed: Did you find an unexplainable bruise, or did your child say something that raised alarms? 
  • When you notice: As soon as you see something alarming, take note of the time and date. Even if you notice the same things over time, document each incident.  
  • The story: When you ask your child, “Where were you when you got that bruise?” or “What was happening [when Mommy said that to you]?” be sure to record the incident verbatim somewhere safe. 

If you suspect your child suffers from emotional, mental, or physical abuse due to living with a narcissistic parent, you need to seek legal help immediately. 

Hickey & Hull Law Partners Can Help You Today

Working with a family law expert is crucial for protecting your child from the harmful effects of parental alienation and parental narcissism. A family law expert can help you understand your legal rights and options and work with you to develop a plan of action that is in your child's best interest. 

Whether you are dealing with a problematic co-parent or navigating the complexities of a custody dispute, a family law expert can provide the support and guidance you need to protect your child from harm and ensure that their needs are met.
Call us today or fill out our online form if you have any questions or want to get started immediately. Our River Valley office number is 479.434.2414, and our Northwest Arkansas number is 479.802.6560.

In the River Valley:
502 Garrison Avenue
Fort Smith, AR 72901
Phone: (479) ‍434-2414
Fax: (479) ‍434-2415

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In Little Rock:
124 W. Capitol Avenue Suite 870
Little Rock, AR 72201
Phone: (479) ‍434-2414
Fax: (479) ‍434-2415

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In Russellville: 

127 East 3rd Street
Russellville, Arkansas 72801

Phone: (479) ‍434-‍2414
Fax: (479) ‍434-‍2415



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In Northwest Arkansas:
409 W. Poplar Street
Rogers, AR 72756
Phone: (479) ‍802-6560
Fax: (479) ‍802-6561

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