How to Deal With a Narcissist Stepdaughter

By Jeffrey Norman
Stepparents should use constructive criticism to communicate with a self-centered stepdaughter.
Stepparents should use constructive criticism to communicate with a self-centered stepdaughter.

Marrying someone with children can be a trying scenario. You and your spouse may share a love and respect that is not shared by the children. A daughter, in particular, might harbor a grudge against you; technically, you have replaced the mother or father figure in her life. Such a tough relationship is made more difficult when the child sports a narcissistic personality. Handling her demands and keeping her accountable while acknowledging that she's still a child is an emotionally complicated situation.

Ensure that she is actually a narcissist. Such an individual believes that the Earth revolves around her and her needs. It is common for teenagers to have this outlook and a narcissistic personality usually isn't diagnosed until a later age because this thought process can be outgrown. However, some narcissistic traits are common in many children, including adults. Compliments are required to converse with narcissists. Characteristics that indicate narcissistic behavior include conversations your stepdaughter carries that center around her and no one else, she behaves as if your feelings and contributions are immaterial and she sneers or snaps at you when you disagree with or correct her.

Employ tasteful criticism. Children who are overpraised can lapse into narcissism; it can help them to clarify that they're not always the teacher's pet. Let your stepdaughter know that her behavior is rude and unacceptable. Make it clear that although you don't like her actions, you still believe that she is a good person with bright qualities.

Observe her behavior closely. Your stepdaughter may be churlish, but she's still a child; she may not yet have the emotional skills to deal with major responsibilities and stress. Look for triggers to her arrogance. Maybe there is a major event coming up, such as a spelling bee or a recital. Examinations and social pressures, such as a rude classmate or teacher at school, can provoke anxiety, which can underlay narcissistic characteristics.

Involve your spouse. Stepchildren frequently treat new parents with resentment. Her biological parent can help make it clear that she needs to respect you, even if she does not adore you. Your spouse also should stipulate that treating you rudely is unacceptable and that you aren't going anywhere, no matter what the daughter wishes would happen.

Provide her with an emotional outlet. Therapy and creative afterschool activities, such as sports, art, music and theater, can be ways for her to express what's inside. Consider getting her to volunteer at places like soup kitchens and animal shelters. Such an empathetic activity can help her realize that other beings exist besides herself -- beings that deserve respect and care.

About the Author

Jeffrey Norman has been writing professionally since 2005. His work has been published in such journals as the "Leland Quarterly" and on the blog, An Apple A Day. Norman earned a Bachelor of Arts in literature and creative writing from Stanford University.