The traits that are listed below are just some of the influencing factors, each child in a family will have different experiences in life that will shape their development. Such as whether or not they were bullied and if they made a connection with a caring person in or outside their family of origin. Each child in a family is treated differently by their parents so their experiences can vary wildly on how they see themselves and view the world around them. For example it is common for mothers to indulge their sons more than they would their daughters and fathers to favour their daughters. Considering that children get their self-esteem from their same sex parent, this favouritisation is very dysfunctional (for the sake of argument I am just looking at the one mother one father model, there are many other different parenting combinations).
- Being too permissive teaches the child that everything that they do is absolutely fine and enables the child to be selfish, self-absorbed, entitled, greedy, a thief, cruel and insensitive to the needs and wants of others (other children, adults and animals). Being completely self-absorbed is a normal part of a child’s early development, but it is up to the parent to guide them to think of the feelings of others, the impact that their behaviour has and to teach them empathy, the concept of sharing and showing compassion for those around them.
- When bad behaviour goes unchecked they will not develop a sense of right and wrong, at least not for themselves because they have been taught that all of their behaviour is acceptable. They will however, see how other children’s behaviour is checked and this creates a sense that morality, rules, kindness and empathy are how other people should behave towards them but that they are exempt from these traits, above the rules and ethics of healthy human interaction. They will lack core beliefs and values, the notion of reciprocity will be totally alien to them and they will grow into adults who think that they are entitled to take, steal and con other people for their own means without any concept that it is morally wrong. They will see others as being there to serve them. (I saw a cartoon once that depicted the difference between cats and dogs, the dog thinks my owner loves, feeds and protects me s/he must be a god(ess), the cat thinks my owner loves, feeds and protects me, I MUST be a god(ess), no prizes for guessing which one the narcissist is.
- Sometimes parents see bad/cruel behaviour as funny and will have a “s/he will go far in life” attitude and defend their child when they are rude/insulting, hurtful and are being destructive or thoughtless. This will only exacerbate their behaviour because it is being rewarded and positively reinforced. So when a child steals, bullies or hurts people or animals they will think “didn’t I do well that will/would have made the adults laugh.”
- Being over indulgent with a child when they behave badly is in a sense neglecting that child because a parent/primary carer is not guiding the child how to be a mature and considerate adult, the consequence of this will have a huge impact on all of their relationships for the rest of their lives (including with themselves).
- The child will grow up thinking that they are special/better than, deserve the best of everything (gained by any means including theft, lying, conning and criminal activities) and will create a “god complex”. At some conscious or sub-conscious level they know that their notion of who they are and what they are entitled to is not true because life knocks everyone around in some way. To maintain their superior notion of themselves means that they tend to avoid intimacy in case their “true self” is revealed. They will have no true sense of who they are and will be extremely defensive and reactive to any actual or perceived criticism or even to someone who has a different point of view to them. Because they are so fragile and insecure they always have to be right and the other person (unless they are on “their side”) will always be wrong and/or stupid. They cannot listen to other points of view and are basically totally disinterested and disconnected to the well-being of those around them. In adulthood this disconnection will include their spouses and their children. They will have learnt that abuse is absolutely fine, even laudable and morality and ethics are for how others should treat them but they consider it a weakness to be taken advantage of. In other words, they will emerge out of childhood as cold, detached, predatory monsters.