When Your Kids Mirror Your Narcissistic Ex: Dos and Don’ts

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Witnessing it when your kids mirror your narcissistic ex can be distressing. However, children often mimic the behaviors they observe, especially from parental figures. Understanding this allows for a proactive approach in redirecting these behaviors into healthier patterns. Let’s dive into the nuances of managing this situation, tailored to different age and stages.

Recognizable Narcissistic Behaviors 

For context, the behaviors in question include:

  • Excessive need for admiration.
  • Lack of empathy.
  • Sense of entitlement.
  • Frequent envy or jealousy.
  • Grandiose sense of self-importance.
  • Manipulative tendencies.
  • Defensiveness.
  • Dishonesty.

How NOT to Handle It When Your Kids Mirror Your Narcissistic Ex :

  • React emotionally: Responding with anger or frustration will only escalate the situation.
  • Label the child: Avoid terms like “You’re acting just like your [other parent]!”
  • Ignore the behavior: Assuming they’ll “grow out of it” without guidance can allow these behaviors to become ingrained.
  • Over-correct: Being overly critical can harm their self-esteem and amplify the behaviors.
  • Engage in power struggles: This will only reinforce their defensive and manipulative behaviors.

How to Handle It By Child Stages:

Toddlers to Early School-age (2-6 years)

  • Positive reinforcement: Praise and reward empathy, honesty, and other positive behaviors.
  • Storytelling: Use stories or fables that highlight the value of truthfulness, humility, and kindness.
  • Redirect and distract: If they’re showing signs of envy or entitlement, divert their attention to another activity.

School-age (7-12 years)

  • Open dialogue: Engage in conversations about feelings. “How did you feel when you acted that way? How do you think [friend/sibling] felt?”
  • Teach empathy: Encourage them to put themselves in others’ shoes. Role-playing can be an effective tool here.
  • Consistent consequences: Ensure there are clear, consistent consequences for dishonesty or manipulative behavior. But always explain the reason behind the consequence.

Teenagers (13-18 years)

  • Deep discussions: Delve into deeper conversations about long-term impacts of such behaviors on relationships and self-worth.
  • Model behavior: Continually showcase empathy, active listening, and the ability to accept responsibility for actions.
  • Seek external support: Consider counseling or therapy if the behaviors become deeply ingrained or if they struggle with self-awareness.

In Conclusion

Navigating the emotional maze when your kids mirror your narcissistic ex can be daunting. Getting help is not really optional when you think about it.However, with understanding, patience, and consistent guidance, these behaviors can be redirected towards healthier emotional patterns. Remember, it’s about reshaping their reactions and actions, not about assigning blame.

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