We have entered the age of helicopter parenting with the potential of raising a generation of narcissists.
According to the latest study by Chris Segrin and colleagues, research suggests that over parenting young adults breeds narcissism and poor coping skills. Further, having ineffective coping skills amplifies anxiety and stress. It might be time to reconsider your actions if you’re doing too much for your child and in effect over parenting.
Whilst we talk about the selfie-generation tongue-in-cheek, we seldom stop to consider the implications of their actions. Being overly self-absorbed could be symptomatic of a much bigger problem – Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).
NPD has been accepted as a mitigating factor in a number of high-profile criminal trials and violent criminals and con-men are claiming an extreme form of narcissism can help explain their criminal behaviour. This defense is being applied for sentencing discounts before the courts and points toward a trend if forecasts are to be trusted.
Lack of conscience is the hallmark of psychopathy, which is estimated to occur in about 1 percent of the adult population. Psychopathy expert Robert Hare, says that unlike psychosis, in which a person is out of touch with reality and experiencing delusions or hallucinations, psychopaths know what they are doing. They just don’t care — and can’t really comprehend — how their actions hurt others. Psychopaths lack empathy, guilt and remorse.
Closer to home, internationally renowned forensic psychologist and profiler, Micki Pistorius describes a lack of conscience as a defining attribute of potential killers.
Some mental health professionals say they can recognize early markers in kids as young as toddlers for what may later develop into psychopathy. Studies show that a significant portion of children who show psychopathic traits — often referred to among researchers as “callous-unemotional (CU) traits,” are most reliably assessed starting at age 4, but even 2-year-olds can exhibit signs that they are lacking early empathy. Indicators include:
• not being concerned about others’ feelings
• not feeling bad or guilty
• exhibiting extreme behaviour problems, aggression and delinquency
• lacking empathy and being unfazed by efforts at parental discipline
Parents and teachers should be on the lookout for warning signs of unusual behaviours. Red flags include frequent bullying and fighting, vandalizing, fire-setting and hurting animals. With the right care and intervention, these children need not turn out to be criminals.