Little Emperor Syndrome: Child Tyrants

· March 7, 2017

We are always more and more surprised by the behavior of children towards their parents: lack of respect, insults, raising their voice, among many other things. A sort of authority that is moving from the parents to the children.

It seems that the roles have changed. The parents are no longer the ones who establish norms and assign punishments; instead the children have all the authority.

“Educating a child is not making him learn what he did not know, but making him someone who did not exist”

-John Ruskin-

What’s happened? Why this change? Since it was established that any “spanking” or “ear yanking” was considered mistreatment, parents became frightened and children saw an effective way to manipulate their parents.

This submission is not at all beneficial for our children, who growing up hostile towards their own family, filled with an authoritarian belief that sooner or later will catch up with them.

In the mind of an authoritarian child

A child who has “Little Emperor Syndrome” will always choose what he eats, what others have to do, when to go out, where the family will go on vacation, what is being watched on TV… In short, he orders, dictates, and mandates everything for himself and others.


Person on Cloud Among Stars

Why does this happen? Because these children have underdeveloped empathy. This means that they are not capable of experiencing the feelings and emotions that have to do with putting themselves in others’ shoes.

If we do not do what the authoritarian child dictates and orders, we will have to deal with their tantrums, fits, and sometimes, aggressions. This is how they become more than an authoritarian child: a dictator. It is very easy to discern a child who has the terrible “Little Emperor Syndrome,” because they have the following characteristics:

  • They have personality traits particular to egocentrism.
  • They have a low tolerance for frustration.
  • They do not know how to control or regulate their feelings and emotions.
  • They do not tolerate seeing their demands go unfulfilled.
  • They know others’ weaknesses.
  • They are experts in psychologically manipulating others.

When we recognize all of this, we sometimes wonder why we are not doing anything to solve it. Especially when we see it on the outside. There are many TV shows that show this terrible behavior. Why don’t the parents act on it? Because they are afraid, but above all else, because they have allowed their own children to dominate them.

Girl Beside Ladder with Bird On It

The importance of education

For reason that are not yet known, there are parents who exercise passive and rather relaxed education that encourages these children to become authoritarian sooner or later. This not only causes problems at home, but also at school. How are teachers going to be able to deal with these authoritarian personalities?

These children do not know what respect or forgiveness is… they are completely unaware of their place. This is why they turn into challenging people with no goal in life other than having others at their mercy. The parents have opted to educate their children passively, without considering the consequences they will start regretting sooner or later.

We know that educating is an arduous task, complicated, requiring great effort and energy that we sometimes do not have or want to have. But when we decide to have children, this is one of the first premises that we accept. We acquire the responsibility of educating them, something that inevitably requires effort.

When they are still children, we may believe that we have time to solve this attitude that is currently beyond us. The problem is when adolescence raises up its head and we find ourselves trapped in a whirlwind of contradictory actions that can result in aggression.

This is why it is so important we as parents make an effort so that our children also learn the value of effort and know that it is important to be responsible and respectful towards others.

Mother Reading, Pirate Child

Limits are necessary. We are forming people who are going to live together in this world and whom we must feel proud of. If we do not care, we cannot expect a change.

Authoritarian children will fall flat on their faces many times before they learn, but they will never understand why nobody has given them a hand teaching them from the start.

Images courtesy of Nicoletta Ceccoli, Iván Alfaro