Being around a narcissist is an exercise in exhaustion. They are always needy, and they are frequently incredibly critical. Most people opt to go no contact rather than deal with the constant manipulation and controlling nature of those afflicted by this personality disorder. But what about when it’s someone you love like a grandson? If you don’t want to cut off all contact, how can you deal with a narcissistic grandson?
There are strategies you can use to deal with a narcissistic grandson. These involve both methods to make them feel noticed and loved as well as ways to take care of your own mental and physical well-being. You shouldn’t tolerate abuse, but there are ways to minimize that without cutting them off.
When you have a close narcissistic family member and you don’t want to go no contact, it’s vital to use certain strategies that prevent them from emotionally abusing you. You have to take care of yourself even if you love them and want them in your life. Let’s explore several of the more successful strategies that grandparents can use when dealing with a narcissistic grandson.
1. Validate Your Narcissistic Grandson
Narcissists have a damaged sense of identity, and they need other people to validate them in order to feel good about themselves. The disorder causes people to be at higher risk for all kinds of problems, including suicide. As Dr. John Cunha writes, “Narcissistic personality disorder is also a significant risk factor for suicide and suicidal attempts.”
Of course, you don’t want that to happen to your grandson. You love your grandson, so, go ahead and validate him. That can help him feel better about himself. One of my friends has a narcissistic husband, and she discovered that by giving him his props, they had a much better relationship.
Giving a narcissist the validation they crave helps them feel seen, boosts their ego, and helps tame their insecurities. When they feel validated, they don’t have to employ manipulation tactics to get their needs met.
2. Keep a Log of Interactions with Your Narcissistic Grandson
Whenever you’re dealing with a narcissist, you have to also deal with gaslighting. This is when they will distort reality in order to try and manipulate other people around them. To deal with this type of tactic, you’ll want to keep a log of the interactions you have with them.
Write down all the important aspects of your interaction with them so that should they later claim something different, you can reference your contemporaneous perspective of what happened. It’s not that you want to keep a log of what they’ve done wrong, but it’s important to keep them, and yourself, grounded in reality.
3. Hamburgers for Confrontations
Therapists often recommend using what is called the hamburger method when you need to confront a narcissist with their bad behavior. This refers to sandwiching the confrontation between two compliments, like the beef is sandwiched between two parts of a bun.
The idea is that you begin with a compliment, then proceed to the confrontation, and after that, give them another compliment. This increases the chance that they will both hear and respond in a positive manner to the confrontational part of your interaction.
For example, you might say something like, “You know, you are really quick-witted. I admire the way you can think so quickly on your feet. But sometimes, you can be a little cruel in the way you respond to people. Do you think you might be a little more kind when you’re talking to someone? You’re too smart not to recognize when you’re doing this, so I have to believe you can find a much better way to say things.” When you put it this way, you’re more likely to get your point across without enduring a dose of narcissistic rage.
4. No Second Chances
When you set a limit for your narcissistic grandson, it’s vital that you lay out the consequences for when they cross that line. It’s even more critical that you actually follow through on those consequences every time without extending them a second chance.
For narcissists, it’s crucial to make sure they understand where the line is, what the consequences are for crossing it, and that you will not hesitate to enforce that limit. If you give them a second chance or aren’t consistent in enforcing those limits, the narcissist will know they can sometimes get away with it. They will take advantage of that.
5. Point Out Other Narcissists
It’s also helpful to point out the behavior of other narcissists. There are some famous ones you can use for this purpose. This can help your narcissistic grandson see the narcissistic behavior for what is, dysfunctional.
This is a particularly helpful technique when the narcissist you are pointing out to your grandson is someone they don’t like. They certainly won’t like to be compared to that person, and it might result in a reduction of their narcissistic characteristics.
6. Maintain Your Identity
Narcissists are very adept at dominating those around them. They see other people as extensions of their own identity, and they often strive to turn them into mini versions of themselves. You need to make sure you don’t fall into this trap with your narcissistic grandson.
You need to have a lot of self-awareness to maintain your own egoic identity. Practicing meditation can help with this as can spending quality time with your social support network.
7. Don’t Tolerate Abuse from Your Narcissistic Grandson
Narcissists are famous for their rage as well as their manipulation and control. They use tactics like triangulation to sow discord in the family unit. When you catch them using these tactics or if they blow up at you in a rage, you can’t tolerate this behavior.
If you let them get away with it, they will use it every time as a way to get what they want. Determine consequences for such behavior that works for you and enforce it every time they act up. For rageful explosions, you might send them to their room, walk away from them, or ask them to leave your house.
To combat triangulation, you need to make sure you communicate openly with other family members, and if you discover your narcissistic grandson is playing both ends against the middle, the two of you should call him out on that. If you embarrass him, he will likely curb that kind of behavior. Additionally, if it doesn’t work, he will stop using that tactic.
8. Get Time Away
Whether you’re a grandparent raising a narcissistic grandson or if you just visit him regularly, you’ll want to make sure you have sufficient time away from his toxicity. This is an important self-care tactic. It helps you clear your mind, and it keeps you grounded in reality.
It’s helpful to take a walk in nature, get together with your close friends, or just enjoy some peaceful time alone. This all helps you to deal with the narcissistic abuse from your grandson in a positive way. By taking care of yourself, you are better able to deal with and help your grandson.
When dealing with a narcissistic grandson, these tactics will help you to keep your own sanity as well as your physical well-being. If you can’t or don’t want to go no contact, it’s vital that you take care of yourself, set firm limits, and help your grandson see his dysfunctional narcissistic behaviors. It’s also important that you get your emotional triggers under control because your narcissistic grandson will use those against you.
I have created a 5 Step Roadmap to Heal Emotional Triggers that can help you recognize and heal your emotional triggers. When you defuse those triggers, you take away one of the more helpful weapons a narcissist can use against you. To get a free copy of this guide, just click on this link, and I’ll send it directly to your inbox.
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