Methods to Deal With an Adult Narcissistic Child

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Narcissism is a type of disorder that can be abusive and harmful.

It can be challenging to identify, particularly in one's own children.

You may sense a slight difference in your child's behavior, but acknowledging the likelihood of your child being a narcissist can be challenging.

It's important to avoid jumping to conclusions and labeling your child as a narcissist if they exhibit certain behaviors.

Every child is different and may display a range of behaviors as they develop their social and emotional skills.

It's vital to note that there is also no quick or easy way to deal with an adult narcissistic child because they need support for narcissism.

However, there are methods you can adopt to deal with an adult narcissistic child, one of which is counteracting the gaslighting.

Dealing with an adult narcissistic child necessitates you developing resilience against gaslighting techniques often employed to distort reality and manipulate emotions.

Another method to deal with an adult narcissistic child is adopting the hamburger approach.

The hamburger approach, also known as the sandwich method, can prove invaluable in fostering constructive communication.

Additionally, visiting a family therapist can be an effective method to deal with an adult narcissistic child.

A qualified family therapist can provide a safe space for open communication, conflict resolution, and healing.

Read on to learn more details on ways to deal with an adult narcissistic child.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder Therapists in Colorado

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Shannon Matlock, LPC, NCC

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Counteract The Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a common form of mental abuse used by narcissists.

When dealing with an adult narcissistic child, building up your ability to withstand gaslighting techniques is important.

They often use these techniques to change how you perceive reality and control your emotions.

Gaslighting is a form of manipulation that leaves people questioning their sanity or understanding of what is real.

As a parent of an adult narcissistic child, you must maintain a clear sense of self-awareness in order to counteract this.

Trust your instincts, gather objective evidence, and seek external help if needed.

For example, tracking their behaviors by taking notes of how they react to normal things is a good way to get started.

Remember that this is not to document mistakes but rather to have a reference point in case things get distorted.

When you take this action, you regain power over your emotions and liberate yourself from gaslighting manipulation.

Do Not Put Up With Any Abusive Conduct

When dealing with an adult narcissistic child, setting and maintaining healthy boundaries to protect your well-being is important.

This means you must not accept any kind of abusive conduct, whether it is expressed through words, emotions, or actions.

When you establish these boundaries and express them confidently and firmly, you strongly state that any misconduct and abusive behavior will not be tolerated.

If your adult child with narcissistic traits frequently puts you down or says hurtful things, it's important to clearly and confidently express that this kind of behavior is not okay.

State clearly what your boundaries are and inform them that you will not participate in discussions that include disrespectful or belittling comments.

Consistently uphold these boundaries, even if faced with opposition or efforts to emotionally manipulate you.

Remember that because you are setting boundaries doesn't mean you want to punish or control a narcissistic child.

It is a way to protect your own mental and emotional health.

You can assert your self-respect and establish a healthier dynamic within the relationship through this method.

Apply the Hamburger Approach

Using the hamburger approach can be effective when talking to an adult narcissistic child.

This method can encourage positive communication.

The technique involves placing any criticism or concerns in between affirmative remarks, which can result in a more balanced and receptive interaction.

For instance, imagine you are having a conversation about finances with your adult narcissistic child.

It might be a good idea to recognize their achievements or abilities in handling other areas of their life to start the conversation.

Gently broach the subject of their financial recklessness or impulsive spending.

Ensure you express your belief in their capability to make better choices and stress your willingness to help them adopt more healthy financial habits.

When you use the hamburger approach, you create a more receptive atmosphere.

This can help reduce defensiveness and encourage more collaboration.

Remember that confronting any issue head-on is never ideal.

This makes the narcissist feel attacked, and they become too defensive to be reasoned with.

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Visit a Family Therapist

When dealing with an adult narcissistic child, it can be very helpful to seek the assistance of an expert family therapist.

An expert therapist can offer a secure and impartial environment for families to communicate openly, resolve conflicts, and work on healing.

In therapy sessions, the therapist helps guide conversations, promotes attentive listening, and provides helpful perspectives on the root causes and patterns contributing to narcissistic behavior.

Therapists can help you and your adult narcissistic child to better understand each other's viewpoints, which can promote empathy and compassion.

Therapists can also help families identify underlying insecurities or past traumas that contribute to narcissistic tendencies. 

Use Affirmations

Narcissists thrive on a constant supply of attention, affection, admiration, and appreciation.

By giving them the affirmations they crave, their ego is boosted, their insecurities are tempered, and they feel truly seen.

Consider this practice as a form of preventative medicine rather than a prescription for dealing with issues afterward.

For instance, imagine your adult narcissistic child completes a task or displays a skill.

Rather than overlooking or dismissing their achievements, take a moment to genuinely acknowledge and affirm their accomplishments.

Consider offering heartfelt compliments, expressing admiration for their efforts, talents, or personal growth.

By providing this positive reinforcement, you not only boost their ego but also foster a more positive environment for both of you.

Why It is Important to Address Narcissistic Signs in Your Adult Child

Addressing narcissistic signs in your adult child is vital for their mental health and the wellbeing of the entire family. An adult child exhibiting narcissistic behaviors may struggle with a personality disorder known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). This can lead to a range of problems, including strained relationships, emotional abuse, and an inability to celebrate other people's accomplishments.

Here are some reasons why it's crucial to address these signs:

  • Maintaining Healthy Relationships - Narcissistic adult children often struggle to maintain healthy relationships due to their self-centered nature. This can cause tension not only within the family but also in their personal and professional relationships.
  • Preventing Narcissistic Abuse - Narcissistic behaviors can escalate into narcissistic abuse. This includes emotional abuse that can negatively impact the mental health of other family members.
  • Improving Mental Health - Narcissistic children, especially an only child, might face various mental health issues. Addressing these signs early can help get them the necessary support and treatment.
  • Enhancing Self Esteem - A narcissistic adult child often has a fragile self-esteem that is dependent on the validation from others. By addressing these signs, you can help them build a healthier sense of self-worth.
  • Managing Behaviors - Narcissistic adult children may resort to throwing temper tantrums or belittling others to assert their dominance. Recognizing and addressing these signs can help manage such behaviors.
  • Promoting Empathy - Narcissistic adult children often struggle to empathize with others. Addressing these signs can help them learn to value and respect other people's feelings and accomplishments.

As a parent, addressing the narcissistic signs in your adult daughter or son requires patience, understanding, and effective parenting skills. It's a challenging task, but it's critical for their well-being and the harmony of your family. 


Dealing with an adult narcissistic child is a multifaceted endeavor that demands understanding, resilience, and compassionate assertiveness.

Remember, support for narcissism is available for your adult narcissistic child.

Some methods to deal with an adult narcissistic child include counteracting the gaslighting, not putting up with any abusive conduct, applying the hamburger approach, visiting a family therapist, and using affirmations.


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May 25th, 2024

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