“I gave birth to a monster”-this is every mother’s worst nightmare. Unfortunately, some mothers (and fathers) come to a realization that they are living that nightmare. Psychopathic children do exist.
But mothers (I’m talking about real mothers and not just someone who gave birth to someone) would never consider their child a monster, a psychopath, no matter how bad he behaves or how other people see him, because they always find excuses for him. Their love is unconditional, greater than the love for the self.
It eventually hits them in the face and there is no denying it.
And no matter how guilt-ridden they are, deep down they know it was not all their fault. Thinking back, they realize that this particular child (if they have more than one) has always been different. No matter how hard they tried, they could not establish the connection with him (or her). And then, on top of being heart broken, the parents get blamed for the way their child has turned out. Although people give them no understanding or support, this is nothing comparing to the abuse they suffer from their very own child.
This is something so painful, yet still a taboo in our society. It needs to be talked about, discussed, debated, for if we do not learn to recognize the early signs of psychopathy in our children, we will not be able to help them and protect ourselves and other people from them.
My encounter with a child “monster”
An old friend of my husband came to visit us when he was in town. He stopped by with his wife and their six-year-old son.
The parents were quickly immersed in a conversation with my husband and did not pay attention to their son. He sneaked out of the yard and went into the street.
At that time my first child was just a baby, so I didn’t know much about kids. I thought that he was probably old enough to go out and that he was probably just bored. But I still went after him to tell him that it would be better if he stayed in the house or the yard.
I was shocked to see that he was actually going after our cats and throwing rocks at them, focusing really hard as he aimed. I yelled at him: “Hey, why are you throwing rock at them? You are going to hurt them like that! ” He turned around and looked at me, and his look was saying “Yes, I know, STUPID, that is exactly why I am doing it.” But he didn’t say anything. I asked him again. I get no answer again, just an evil smile. Instantly I got really mad with this kid. I told him in a very imperative tone of voice: “Go inside. You can’t be out here.” He looked at me like I was a poor little creature and said “No.” I screamed at him to go inside or I will call his parents. His mother appeared at the front door and called him to come in. I didn’t know what to do-should I tell her that her child is “evil”? Has she even seen that look in his eyes? I was totally upset but of course I should just keep my mouth shut. Saying something would probably get me in a huge fight with a woman that I just met and my husband and his friend would be put in a very awkward situation.
I decided to spend the rest of their visit in the house, while they were in the yard. I just could not stand being next to that kid. My excuse was that I had to be with the baby. At one point, the kid came into the house and wanted to see the baby. He was clearly bored and looking for a way to entertain himself. I hissed at him like a lioness protecting her cub- “Just get the hell out.” I think he then stuck his tongue out at me or something like that, and left.
When they were gone, my husband came inside with a worried face. He didn’t know what happened with me and the kid in the street, but he knew something was wrong and seeing how the kid behaved he got the picture why I was hiding in the house.
He said that the whole time the kid was trying to get attention, he was just acting like a spoiled little brat. The parents did not pay any attention to him, but if he yelled hard enough, they would do exactly what he asked for without thinking twice about it, and then continue the conversation.
I am very thankful for their visit because I know exactly what not to do as a parent. I think this poor kid probably never got attention from his mom and dad in the right way. They are “artists” if you know what I mean, so they have more important things to do than to raise their child. To teach him right from wrong. Teach him respect. Teach him discipline. Teach him empathy.
Brats are all around us
I can feel sorry for a child like this now because he is only six, but when he hits puberty and becomes dangerous (like the Devil I wrote about in My Story) feeling sorry, or anything for that matter, will not be able to bring him back on the right track.
We now have too many kids who are not only disobedient, but who are completely detached from their family, who have scary role models, who get raised by the streets and video games. And what do the parents do? They think “all a child needs is love” so they turn the other cheek and take another blow. Then they think “well, maybe a child needs a little more entertainment” or “maybe we can try to negotiate” or something as ridiculous as that.
Spoiled brats are all around us, and that is why we cannot differentiate between them and little psychopaths, kids who are truly difficult.
Spoiled brats will likely lose all their potential for empathy and remorse with rearing like this, and grow up to be just like the real psychopaths if they don’t get help.
But let’s look at these other kids first. The one that the article is actually about.
Psychiatrists do not like to talk about this subject because psychopathy is very difficult to diagnose. And because it is such an untreatable condition, people who get clinically labeled as “psychopaths” really cannot escape the diagnosis for the rest of their lives. Still, the main experts on this subjects agree that psychopathy can be recognized very early.
The early signs of psychopathy in children
Some mothers of psychopaths claim that, thinking back, they could say that the earliest signs of something not being quite right began when the child was still and infant. The child did not like to be held, did not like to make eye contact and was somehow cold, detached.
Then, when a kid like this becomes a toddler, he (or she) starts to learn about manipulation. It is almost as if he can switch his charm on and off to get what he wants. All kids do this, but this child seems far better at it.
The conscience in children forms around the age of five or six, and this is usually the time when the parents realize that something is terribly wrong. Their child is not responding to socialization like the other kids. He is refusing to play by the rules. He is getting better at lying, deceiving, and getting away with something he did. It seems like he does understand that other people and animals have feelings, but does not care about it.
A psychopathic child does not express love, because he cannot feel it. He does not respond well to love from others, because he does not understand it.
A psychopathic child is very jealous of his sibling because he sees that they are receiving and giving love, something he is not capable of. He tries to make the love between his parents and his siblings somehow disappear.
A psychopathic child does not respond to punishment. He does not learn from his mistakes. He only learns how to get away with it next time. However, he does respond to bribing, or something “positive” that he could get if he corrected his behavior.
A psychopathic child is fearless. He is not thinking about the consequences of his actions, even if that means getting hurt and putting his life in danger.
A psychopathic child is only concerned with satisfying his needs. He stays on the emotional level of an infant in that sense. He feels entitled.
He observes the guilt his parents sometimes feel and uses it to get what he wants. “You are not a good enough mother if you do not do this for me”-they can say this as early as five or six years old.
They think seeing someone suffer is fun. Even if it is their own mother and father. Actually, they believe that their mother and father only exist to serve them. “Why did you have me if you are not going to do this or that for me?” is another favorite line that they can use later on in life.
What can parents do?
As you can see, there are many similarities between a psychopathic child and a regular spoiled brat.
Experts say that psychopathy is often genetic, and that a psychopathic child is likely to have a psychopathic parent. It gets even more complicated when you think about a psychopath raising a child -how can that child be normal emotionally? We tech our children by example, and if a psychopathic or narcissistic parent has no empathy and no moral values, the child cannot learn it even if he had that capacity to begin with.
But considering that the parents are normal, “morally healthy” people, this is what could be done:
Stop being “a friend” to your child and start being the boss. Set the rules. Make sure that they are followed.
Stop making excuses for your child. Respect his intelligence. Do not make things easier for him all the time. Let him have obstacles that he will need to overcome on his own. It does not make you a better parent if you give him a silver spoon, it is quite the contrary.
Do not make things easier for yourself, either. Stop avoiding confrontation. Stop numbing the situation with TV or computer games. Things will not get better with time. They will get worse. Much worse.
Do not think that he will be better off with a predatory character. Psychopaths are miserable beings. They cannot be happy. Their existence is two dimensional. Plus, they end up as drug addicts, prostitutes or criminals. You certainly do not want that for your child.
Although psychopathy is incurable, experts agree that psychopathy in children can be treated in a way that makes them less dangerous to others and allows them to lead more productive lives as adults. There should always be hope that the child can be brought to the right track.
If you are the parent of a psychopathic child, get help. Don’t avoid responsibility. And just as with dealing with other psychopaths, remember that “unconditional love” approach does not work. It will only turn you into a victim of your own child.