Narcissism is a personality disorder that gives a person an over-inflated sense of his own importance. This begins for some teens with low-self esteem who create fantasies to compensate for their poor opinions of themselves. TeenHelp.com reports that 1 percent of all teens have the disorder and that between 50 percent and 75 percent of narcissists are male. Although some selfishness is expected in teens, narcissism can become a problem in adulthood if parents do not address it at a younger age.
According to TeenHealth.com, those with a narcissistic personality disorder often exaggerate their own skills and require constant validation from others. They also believe that others envy them because of their attractiveness, skills or power. In many cases, they expect special treatment and do not consider the feelings of others. Overall, those with the disorder become arrogant and have an inflated sense of self-importance. This is particularly troublesome for a teen because it could lead to problems when listening to parents or teachers, which could hinder development.
The disorder is caused by both hereditary and environmental factors. PsychologyToday.com reports that like other personality traits, genes can play a large part in the equation. Because genes are also responsible for the teen's physical appearance, genetic traits can lead to narcissism. Many believe, however, that developmental factors have the largest influence over a teen's narcissism, according to PsychologyToday.com. These factors include admiration from parents, a lack of negative feedback, over-praise, childhood abuse, a sensitive temperament, inadequate care from parents, and learning manipulation from other people.
According to the Mayo Clinic, treatment is difficult because the teen is already fragile mentally. In most cases, treatment attempts are not favorably received because they clash with the teen's perception of himself. Cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy, and group therapy are options, depending on the circumstances. Parents might have the most success taking their teens to family therapy sessions because they allow the entire family to explore communication issues together. Parents can help by teaching their teens the proper way to interact with a group and highlighting empathetic behavior.
A 2010 study called "Rethinking 'Generation Me' -- A Study of Cohort Effects From 1976–2006," which was published in the journal "Perspectives on Psychological Science Studies," argues that the current generation is no more narcissistic than previous generations. Every generation has its narcissists and its selfless individuals, so teens in every generation seem more self-centered at the time, but become more aware of this behavior as they age. As a result, while parents might feel as though their teens are more self-centered than they were as teens, evidence doesn't support that idea.