Narcism in 7 yo(12 Posts)
Hello and thank you for reading this. Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated:
The Background: My partner and I sometimes look after my partner's 2 Grandchildren, 5 and 7. Two lovely kids, a boy and a girl respectively. The kid's parents are not together, mainly due to the mother having full on Narcissistic Personality Disorder. They live with their mum but their home life is unstable, they are pushed from pillar to post. The mum uses the kids as a weapon against their Dad, we've had instances where the children have told us they are not allowed to speak about certain things (mainly the older girl telling her brother to be quiet, this was corrected by us at the time) and they have been told that their Dad doesn't want to see them when in fact it is the mother. For example, last year there was domestic violence between the mum and her new boyfriend in front of the children and the kids were not allowed to be looked after by the father for a month, I suspect in case they talked about the violence. The Dad tries to manage the relationship with the Mum (he actually got her to sign an agreement once which lasted a week) by giving her pick up and drop off times which she consistently misses even when it's a school night, for example when it's agreed for her to pick the kids up at 6pm she doesn't answer her phone and turns up when she wants often 2-4hours later. Also If the Dad is to pick the kids up she has him chasing her for the children, literally. The person she is currently shacked up with is what I can best describe as a thug and purveyor of non-legal plants and pharmaceuticals.
The Problem: Unfortunately the little girl is, and pretty much always has been, an emotional extension of the mother. She has been showered with pink things, princess costumes and constantly told she's 'girly-girl' like her mum. She even appeared on facebook in full facial make-up recently. Which the Dad got her the Mum to take down, but it really illustrates the level of emotional neglect. We had them both this weekend and the little girl's behaviour was almost ADD+OCD, she was showing a very poor attention span, inability to play on her own, constantly "performing", incessant negative back-chat, obsessively attempting to dominate in almost every situation where she felt comfortable, including using here younger brother as an audience when we would not play. She turned up at ours with a full sized blingy hand back and her own full-sized perfume which she insisted on spraying herself with when we went out, this was not a kid playing this was a kid trying to mimic and affect. We played with them, drawing, cooking and toys and it was obvious that the little girl has no imagination, specifically no emotional imagination (if that makes sense). For example, a few minutes after our little Easter Egg hunt the little boy realised my partner and I had no Eggs (of course) he asked us if he wanted any of his, the little girl did nothing for about 3 minutes, then mimicked her brother. The same was true with Happy Easter cards, her brother made one each for us and the girl did the same and they were almost exactly the same. Fortunately for the little boy the mother claimed that she never bonder with him. He is able to play on his own or in company and is very comfortable within himself. My partner has 3 lovely sons all in their mid to late 20s, so the little man has quite a number of positive, emotionally stable, men around. Unfortunately as well as the mother having NPD the mother's mother is madder than a bag of cats, I believe she's been on sickness benefit for many years due to mental illness, specifically depression. One final thing the little girl does get very panicky when she is out of her comfort zone, but I guess this is down to trust issues and her unstable home-life.
We try to be quite proactive with them, lots of love, hugs, boundaries and space to have an emotional life. My partner has really high EQ as such she is very empathic and I am a bit of a nerd, so between us we can sort most thing out but we are stumped, maybe because we love both the kids and the problem is too close to home. I can see that if these problems continue they will stop her developing emotionally and will cause mental health problem down the line.
It might be that we could take one or both of them on holiday for a long weekend. When my partner had problems with her sons she took them away, individually, for a week, and that seemed to do the trick.
No child can be diagnosed with NPD - not until the age of at least 16.
It's damaging for any child to have a parent with NPD but all you can do is to try to encourage her independence so that she grows up with a well adjusted perspective of who she is and what she wants.
I've just lost a long post.
I'll try again. I'd ring the nspcc for advice.
All you can do is love her and support her. If she feels loved and accepted as she grows up, that will make a huge difference to her and she may gravitate towards you both and more positive influences in her life as she grows and she'll need those steady adults in her life.
I'm sure my DD would love a handbag and perfume at that age but the smell would be over powering, but try and look beyond that. She's just a little girl and (although not to your taste) her Mum is indulging her but there's not much you can do.
There are lots of reasons a girl could behave that way, completely unconnected to her upbringing.
I'm in the process of getting my son assessed and he exhibits some of those behaviours tbh.
The other issue is the co parenting which sounds difficult and isn't easy for your son. That is very hard but you can't really reason with someone unreasonable, all you can do is try and enforce good boundaries.
Have you read any Alice Miller books? Maybe a bit of reading may help you to see things clearer?
If you have serious concerns about emotional abuse- and it sounds as if you are concerned- you need to report to social services. Whilst this will not be easy, your level of concern seems to be such that action must be taken. If the problem is as serious as you say it is, it will not be resolved with weekends away. You use serious phrases such as 'emotional neglect'- if you believe this is happening, you have no choice but to report the situation.
The child is 7, with a seemingly chaotic homelife and traumatic upbringing, so any talk of NPD or mental health issues is at best premature and at worst potentially damaging. Stop doing it, right now. I'm not saying that she has no issues, but you must stop seeing this from an adult behaviour POV. It's quite possible that some of her behaviour (some of which sounds like a normal 7yo, BTW- children are supposed to be narcissistic) stems from a number of causes, some of which may be related to attachment behaviour or emotional neglect.
You must stop projecting the mother's behaviour onto the child as you are likely to do her more damage by doing so. If the situation is as bad as you've described here, you have to involve social services, right now.
Eeek sorry I'Ve just read this and I can't actually see anything abnormal about the little girl - of course not every 7 year old girl is like this, but plenty are! 7 is still a selfish age, and the performing and mimicking the main adult in her life are normal, as is the copying things that get positive attention. The only thing I would worry about is the secret keeping. The rest just looks like traits you dislike in her mum and so dislike seeing emerging in/ mimicked by the daughter, but that doesn't mean they are signs of abuse or mental illness!
Psychologically speaking I think (if I remember rightly from an OU course years ago) all children are largely narcissists till the age of 7, in that it is absolutely normal for empathy to be a work in progress, and for them to think the world revolves around them!
Is the Mums current partner the one who was violent? Although he doesn't sound much better, if he is different
Can your son afford to go to court to get a legal framework drawn up on contact arrangements and residency?
I do think you should ring the NSPCC for advice.
Thank you for all your messages but especially DontStepOnTheMomeRaths (I have read some Alice Miller books)
To reply to some of your points:
- I am not saying the 7 yo girl has NPD. I do understand that kids are 'little narcissists'. Maybe using Narcissism in the title was not a smart move on my part.
- The Mum's current boyfriend is the one involved in the domestic violence, they recently got back together I believe.
- The kid's father has already gone to social services, and the school (when it was reported to him that the girls attendance was at 85%) but it seems that the neglect is not bad enough for them to act.
- Unfortunately he is not in a position to fund a legal case, special mention to the "We're all in it together" Government here for axing family legal aid today.
- The Dad, who is in a stable relationship and living with a girl who has a kid, has offered to take the kids on but removing and control levers from the girl of someone with NPD always gives the 'Over my dead body' response.
- Projecting... I get the concerns about us projecting our dislike of the mothers behaviour onto the girl. I am aware of this and we both make a concious effort not to do this.
- I think I will call NSPCC tomorrow, oddly I hadn't thought of that.
Our main concern is her lack of imagination, almost aggressive attention seeking and inability to concentrate on anything for more than a minute with out acting out. I know might appear to be normal behaviour for a kid of that age but it is very intense and goes on all the time. Also when challenged (in a nice way) she either ignores it sings to herself or walks away.
I thought legal aid was available still for special cases where violence was involved and children?
Nspcc would know far more. The fact it's the same bloke is deeply concerning
Does your son keep a diary of each incident and what occurred? Does he record conversations? Building up the evidence would be a wise move.
He's not my Son he's my partners. All very modern and confusing!
The Dad has kept some diary stuff but he has been seeing his kids so irregularly there's not much to put in it. He also tried to apply for legal assistance and was previously told that as there was no direct evidence of abuse there was little chance of him getting it.
We were barred from seeing the kids for Christmas until last month and this weekend was the first time we had the opportunity for a sleep over since September Last Year. The mother also moved house (I suspect because of credit card bills) to the neighbouring town and wouldn't tell the Dad her new address. So it's not easy to deal with her. To be honest if too much pressure was put on her I wouldn't be surprised if she went back to where her family are from and disappeared with the kids.
It sounds incredibly difficult, I wish I had more suggestions but the nspcc will x
It's ok... it's a mess tbh. It's like watching a train crash in slow motion from a nearby hill.
Anyway I'll call the NSPCC, maybe they'll have a specialist to talk with. Thanks for you help it's really appreciated. xx
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