5 Signs You’re Dealing With a Narcissistic Teenager

We’re not here to tell you how to diagnose narcissistic personal disorder in teens, that’s something that needs to be done by a professional in the correct setting.

The purpose of this article is to point out some general traits that could point towards someone in your life being a narcissistic teenager, but it’s important to remember that even if they check off all of these boxes by possessing these traits, and even if you’re reading this thinking “Wow, that describes them perfectly,” that’s not a diagnosis and an article on the internet based around general information isn’t a replacement for seeking assistance from a professional.

Certain traits that might be connected to a narcissistic personality could also just be normal parts of growing up, many younger people have a sense of self-obsession to some degree, for instance, and if you’re trying to check off boxes you might be noticing things that don’t necessarily apply. That’s why it’s important to leave diagnosis up to the pros.

Narcissism vs Narcissistic Personality Disorder in Teens

Narcissistic Personality Disorder in Teens

Someone can be a narcissist without having NPD (narcissistic personality disorder). You could think of it as a spectrum, where someone could have certain traits, to certain degrees, that would point towards narcissism without meeting the criteria for a NPD diagnosis.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this is why you want to have a professional evaluation in situations like this, not to mention a professional to work with the teenager on an ongoing basis.

What Causes Narcissism in Teenagers?

What Causes Narcissism in Teenagers

It’s normal for teens to show signs of narcissism without meaning they have the personality disorder, but when someone does suffer from narcissistic personality disorder in teens, these traits are often exhibited at a much higher level.

Some of the factors that could potentially lead to narcissism include the environment the teen is growing up in, whether certain genetic traits are inherited from their lineage, and their neurobiology.

While it’s normal for teens to display various traits that could look similar to narcissism, if someone is going to develop a narcissistic personality disorder, this can often happen during the teenage years. Some of the traits can also look similar to a teen who has lower self-esteem and is trying to compensate for that.

What Are The Signs of Narcissism in Teenagers?

Signs of Narcissism in Teenagers

The signs of narcissism in teenagers can appear to varying degrees, with some people exhibiting all of these, and some people having very high levels of just certain traits, or any other combination thereof.

5. They Have Trouble Showing Empathy to Others

Empathy is a very important piece of the human experience, but people with narcissism can have trouble relating to other people or understand the feelings of others.

Therapy can help somebody with narcissism learn to try to understand empathy which can be a very useful thing in their life, as well as a big plus for the people they interact with.

4. The Teen Has a Grandiose Sense of Self-Importance

A feeling of self-importance like they’re better than other people can be a sign that points towards narcissism in teenagers and people of all age groups. This can make it difficult to interact in the world, it can rub people the wrong way and be very counter-productive for self-actualization.

3. They Exaggerate Their Accomplishments or Achievements

Someone who feels insecure may try to counter that by boasting a lot, always bragging about their accomplishments, and trying to one-up other people in a conversation.

This can be a minor annoyance to others, but it can also become a bigger issue.

2. They Are Obsessed With Status Symbols

Do you know someone who is always obsessed about having brand name clothes, they’re obsessed with expensive things and status symbols, and the like? It could be shoes, handbags, cars, and just generally thinking they deserve the “best” of everything, or at least the brands that allow someone to show off.

1. They May Struggle With Anxiety and Depression

Depression in teenagers can go side-by-side with narcissism. Getting help with mental health in general can be beneficial for someone with NPD or that displays narcissistic traits.

How To Help a Narcissistic Teen

If you know a teen who is struggling with narcissistic traits in their behavior, and you want to find a way to help them, therapy can be very helpful. If you feel like your teenage son or daughter hates you and you believe it has to do with mental struggle they’re having, therapy can be very useful.

The first or second or even third therapists that you take them might not be a great fit, so finding the right therapist can be a big challenge in and of itself but it’s just a part of the process – don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t work out the first time.

Remind the teen that you’re here for them, and give them support, and keep them focused on their goals through therapy to help increase the chances of making good progress.

A good therapist and therapy program can help a narcissistic teenager to better understand empathy which is one of the toughest parts of this, especially for the people in their life, at times.

How To Deal With a Narcissistic Teenage Son:

How To Deal With a Narcissistic Teenage Son

If you are dealing with a narcissistic teenage son, there are things that you can do to help him.

This section is specifically about a son because that’s what people have been looking for most commonly and asking us about, but everything on this page also applies to teenage daughters with narcissism or NPD.

As with anyone else, you should look into options for therapy for your narcissistic son to help them better understand themselves and to learn techniques to exist in the world in a way that is optimal for themselves and for other people.

This personality trait doesn’t have to have a huge negative impact on someone’s life, but it’s good to recognize that they might see things a bit differently than other people. It doesn’t make them bad or evil, and it’s something that can be worked on over time with the proper tools and strategies.

How To Deal With a Narcissistic Teenage Daughter:

How To Deal With a Narcissistic Teenage Daughter

If you have a teenage daughter and you suspect that she is displaying narcissistic traits or that she’s struggling with narcissistic personality disorder, there’s a lot of things you can do to help her.

Once again, taking the time to understand her and what she’s going through, and reading up on it like you’re doing now, is a great first step. It would be a good idea to find some books, too, and engage in some literature rather than broad, vague articles that are just designed to serve as the first step through the door.

Beyond that, therapy can be important and life-changing, and a teenage daughter may be a bit more receptive to going to therapy in the first place, so that can be helpful in this instance.

Next Steps for Living With a Narcissistic Teenager

Here’s a quick rundown of things to keep in mind and steps that you can take.

  • Take the time to understand your teenager, what they’re going through, and just talk to them. Don’t point a flashlight at them and scream “THERE’S THE NARCISSIST!” This is something you’ll be learning about, and they’ll be learning about it at the same time but you don’t want to traumatize them or otherize them to make them feel like some kind of freak, right?
  • Seek out knowledge from the library, books, lectures, and other good sources that you can find. You’re reading an internet blog right now, and this is just a very step 1 type of thing, we’re purposefully not going super in-depth because that’s more beneficial to hear from someone who is working directly with your kid, or who has worked on textbooks and so on.
  • Communicate with other members of the family that could potentially be impacted, and also understand that it’s possible they could be dealing with narcissism or NPD as well. If you’re looking at all of this through the lens of your teenager, it’s worth taking some time to consider how you may have impacted that, too. Not in a way to blame yourself, but just to learn and better understand things and what’s going on.

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Mat Woods

Author Information

Mat Woods is the lead writer at TeenWire.org. He works tirelessly alongside the rest of the team to create useful, well-researched, trustworthy articles to help parents and their teens.