Narcissism: The Root of Aggression in Children

July 12, 2016

Rarely will you hear a parent admit that their child is verbally or physically aggressive. It’s a taboo topic, a glimpse of the violence that gets hidden from the public eye by phrases like “dirty clothes are washed at home.” A phrase that usually adds to the violence, lack of self-esteem, and increasing narcissism in children; as well as an absence of educational resources in parents.

However, the research that’s been done on the topic has shown a devastating reality. The conclusions are clear: children’s violence towards parents is becoming more frequent and intense, and it’s happening earlier. But where does this increase in violence against parents come from?

One recent study of Spanish adolescents analyzed the factors that favor the appearance of this type of domestic violence. The data they collected and their subsequent analysis pointed to exposure to violence at home, lack of communication, and an overly lenient upbringing as factors that create narcissistic teens who are verbally and physically aggressive towards their parents.

The seed of violence is planted at home

Researchers explain that many adolescents who are aggressive towards their parents were victims of violence by their parents when they were younger. It seems as though exposure to violence within the family is one of the decisive elements that validate this type of behavior as a good educational tool.

father angry at son

In other situations, a lack of positive emotional communication between parents and children and/or a lack of quality time dedicated towards the children can trigger violent attitudes. A permissive attitude by parents who don’t set limits is another reason behind children’s violent reactions.

The results show that exposure to violence in the first year of the study was correlated with aggression directed towards parents during the third year. Similarly, a distant relationship between parents and children in the first year was related to narcissistic attitudes in adolescents during the second year, as well as aggression towards parents.

A good upbringing is the key to preventing narcissism and violence

According to the researchers, teaching and raising your children well are key in preventing narcissism and violent attitudes in adolescence. If parents don’t raise their children with a sense of responsibility and respect, it’s easy, with a lack of a good role model, for them to believe that the world revolves around them. If all they have is role model in which frustration and imperfection don’t exist, the adolescent should find a way out as soon as they can.

But their parents’ behavior is not the only factor. The temperament of the child is another important component. Some children are more impulsive and learn violent behavior much more quickly, since it involves an easy way to fight back against opposition from their parents or life in general.

Uncontrollable anger, a precursor of the violent teenager

Narcissistic teenagers tend to feel frustrated and rejected. When this happens, first come the shouts and the insults, accompanied – before, during or after – by physical aggression. The researchers explain that, for this reason, when parents perceive that their child is skipping over the norms of respect that they used to follow, they should establish an educational, sanctioning, and reparative dialogue that cuts the root of this behavior.

upset girl

The researchers explain that the age range from about 13 to 15 years old is critical for the child’s orientation towards aggressionwhether it’s directed towards parents, other people, or objects. Also, they emphasize that, even though there are no gender differences in the manifestation of this type of aggression, there has been a marked growth among girls.

Once the aggressive behavior has risen, treatment should be directed towards the reduction of narcissism. The team suggests that the solution involves both teaching them how to respect others and tolerate frustration, and preventing their exposure to violence.