The Vanity of Youth
I'm sure if your kids are anything like mine, you have noticed them staring into just about any object that displays their reflection. I've literally watched my children sit there looking at themselves, sometimes talking to themselves for long periods of time. Do you ever wonder what is going through your child's head when they are admiring themselves like that? Are they curious about people in general? Are they just curious about themselves? Is it that they love the way that they look so much? Or maybe it is that they see their reflection as an extension of themselves, like an imaginary friend of sorts.
Many studies show that narcissism is a learned behavior. They furthermore state that it is up to the parents/guardians to teach their children the difference between self esteem and narcissistic behavior. I mean this to me is common sense. We need to compliment and applaud our children, and make them feel good about themselves raising their self esteem. On the contrary, it is also up to us to teach them that the world does not revolve around them, and that the sun does not rise and set because of them. This lends the idea back to my post about entitlement.
The problem with the theories about this and many other opinions on parenting, is that every child is different. It is up to us as parents to determine how much we need to help boost our child's confidence and how much praise to give them. This is one of the main reasons why I never found myself reading parenting books or mommy blogs. I literally have never read one parenting book. Guess why. No child comes with a manual, you actually have to wing it. Every time. I've said this before, not one of my children is the same as the others. So there are some that I know I have to give extra accolades too. There are a couple who are quite confident naturally, and even a little too arrogant. With those children, I make sure I work on keeping them grounded. I try my best to keep it even keeled in our house. In order to do just that, I may have to take some down a notch, all while lifting the others up more. This is why we need to be aware and present in our children's lives. We need to recognize when they need that boost sometimes. We also want to make sure while they gain confidence in themselves, especially, in their formative years, they are also remaining humble and modest.
Narcissism in babies and toddlers is normal. Naturally, they are in a self discovery phase. It is important for them to feel like they can be comfortable with themselves. Where it gets tricky, especially nowadays, is when they start playing with technology. Kids today are growing up in a technology driven world. Everywhere you turn around there is a built in camera, naturally this makes it challenging to curb narcissism. Selfies can be beneficial in boosting self esteem as I wrote about back in January, but of course they are mostly perceived as a sign of arrogance.
In my honest opinion, I say admire your children loving and discovering themselves. Don't make them feel bad about wanting to stare at that person looking back at them. They might not marvel at their reflecting image quite like that later on. It is nice when you see them appreciating their very first friend. The one and only person they can truly rely on to be there throughout their lives, Themselves.