If you want to raise a self-absorbed, arrogant child, you can do several things to ensure raging success. Don't settle for just one tactic. A combination of several is most effective!
Give them whatever they want, whenever they want it.
Never make your child wait for anything; they might cry! Crying will quite likely damage them permanently. If they want something, you should drop whatever you’re doing and meet their desires immediately. Giggle encouragingly when toddlers throw sassy tantrums. Reinforce their natural assumption that, as the parent, you exist to be the most fawning and adoring slave they'll ever have. It's especially effective if you live in fear of your child's temper. The younger you ingrain this mindset in them, the more successful they will be at manipulation, control, and self-centeredness.
Rescue them from the consequences of their own actions, while blaming everyone else.
Refuse to allow your child to feel the brunt of their negative choices or poor behavior. Step in and divert any natural results that might help them learn a memorable lesson. Shelter them from their own pain and whatever hurt they cause to others. Blame anyone and everyone else for your child's failures. Whatever happened is always the other kid's fault, the teacher's fault, the school’s fault—but it can never, ever be their own responsibility.
Pave the road so they never battle their own obstacles
Hard work is fine for some, but your kids are better than that. Help your little geniuses along by removing as many challenges as possible so they feel good about themselves without any effort. Do homework for them, build their class project, offer excuses when they make mistakes instead of encouraging them to humble themselves and say they're sorry. Of course, constantly remind them that they're ah-mazing, even when they've only invested mediocre energy.
Don't require respectful manners or social courtesies.
Make apologetic excuses when they are rude or disrespectful. Refrain from intervening when your child is aggressive or thoughtless to peers and grownups. Let them sit comfortably in the best chair while an elderly person is left standing. They’re just kids, so they can’t be expected to stand or wait patiently. Say this aloud to nearby adults so your children know you don’t expect much from them in the way of social graces or self-denial.
Praise them constantly, especially for externals and when they haven't earned it.
Focus on external appearance— make sure they know they are more attractive than all the other kids. Don't just tell them they are more attractive than all the other kids. Don't just tell them they are precious to you but also inflate their sense of value beyond what they have accomplished. Place excessive emphasis on public performances that enhance your image as a parent, and ignore the small, thoughtful deeds they may do in private.
Shower them with material things in place of quality relationships
Forget investing quality time in teaching and learning. Skip nature walks and deep conversations and reading books aloud. Instead, make sure they know that things are far more important than people. Allow unsupervised, unfettered access to media, technology, TV, video games—anything to feed their pleasure centers and provide shallow entertainment.
Teach them that externals (like skin color) are a good reason to judge people.
Make them believe their own race is best and that people of other colors are not their equals. Imply that others are jealous of their superiority, or that society has it in for them because of their ethnicity, or both. Reserve your acts of compassion and sympathy for those who fit your racial and cultural comfort zone. Don’t let your children become close friends with families who don’t look like them or share a similar socio-ethnic background.
Avoid the time-suck of compassionate activities that bring zero personal gain.
Instead of modeling empathy and kindness to your children and those around you, set an example of being aloof, emotionally distant, and disdainful toward anyone who can't return an equal or better favor. Let your kids overhear you speaking with disregard and arrogance about others whom you feel are beneath you.
Don't give them chores or expect them to do physical work.
Take care of all household functions for them. Let them grow to believe that dirty work is beneath them. They are too precious to have to fold their own laundry, help prepare meals, clean their own toilets, work in the garden, or make their own beds.
Lead them to believe that the whole world owes them and that it’s okay if they break the rules to get what they “deserve.” Model this lack of integrity in your own life, even when you think they’re not watching. Remember, self-esteem is far more important than moral character, and reinforce this concept in your words and example.
Obsess about what other people think of you
Whether you’re driven by a deepseated need to be well-liked or a paralyzing fear of other people's judgment, generally disregard meeting people's needs unless it is an opportunity to have something good reflect back on you. Model a constant awareness of what people think by verbalizing criticism and judgment about how others look, what they say, and why you're essentially better than the rest of the world.
This aising a narcissist could go on and on. Everyone knows someone who has an out-of-control child: that boy or girl who bullies others, manipulates circumstances in their favor, lacks compassion for others, and acts superior to both adults and peers. Nobody decides intentionally to raise a smug, self-centered child, yet society is filled with them. The trouble is that far too often, parents themselves can't see it.
If that’s not your goal, then perhaps a different approach is needed. You could aim for a lifes could aim for a lifestyle rooted in the powerful example of service, where your children grow up to be shockingly humble and grounded. To achieve that, you might start by prayerfully living a life focused on loving, grace-filled character growth in yourself and your children. A life unafraid of hard work, service to others, and unswerving dedication to integrity.
You could muster the courage to communicate about really tough topics and embrace the chiseling of soul-surrender to Jesus Christ. When your children do well, you might praise their process and perseverance rather than merely their performance. And when you see them doubting their ability to conquer something impossible, perhaps even the daunting task of conquering themselves, you could encourage them with love and acceptance, going together to seek wisdom on your knees.
It’s all up to you.
Disclaimer: Recently I took a poll of those in my circle of influence, asking what they observe as contributors to the tide of narcissism in modern culture. This tongue-in-cheek article grew out of those responses. In case anyone is still wondering--no, I don't think we should intentionally raise self-centered children. I highly recommend the books Adventist Home and Child Guidance, by Ellen White, as a foundation for biblical parenting wisdom.