The syndrome of the emperor or the child tyrant: what does it consist of?

Little tyrants wield power as soon as they start walking and walking. Everything belongs to them, they want everything and they protest with screams, bites and tantrums when the world is not under their power. This is the famous emperor syndrome.

This condition appears already at three or four years of age and subordinates, under his terrible behavior, to parents who lose their authority before children who come to abuse.

The subject is much more serious than it seems. Many educators, psychologists and sociologists are seeing a striking increase in children and adolescents with clearly narcissistic profiles.

The cult of the ego and the "I want it all and I want it now" not only causes serious behavior problems. This type of syndromes are accompanied by high unhappiness and frustration.

When the roles of authority are reversed and it is the children who impose their norms, we find ourselves before an announced drama. Children who grow up without limits become abusive adults; in men and women who hope to always get what they want. However, the world does not follow this rule of three and, on average, every emperor is dethroned.

The Emperor or Tyrant Child Syndrome

Tyrant children end up becoming unhappy adults because they cannot satisfy their desires.

Emperor syndrome is defined as that dysfunctional behavior pattern in which a child exercises authority over his parents. His position of power urges him to engage in defiant, contested, and petulant behavior. Not only do they use a demanding behavior, they also understand that their parents must always be at their service.

This situation, which, as we have pointed out, already appears at three years of age, causes serious disagreements. Many of the parents who live this reality do not know how to handle the situation. Thus, and on average, it is common that problems also appear in schools and that these alterations in their behavior are a constant in their lives.

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What is the child with emperor syndrome like?

The emperor syndrome is easily distinguishable. Sometimes it is enough to enter a plane, train, or store to instantly identify the child tyrant. In general, the following would be its main characteristics:

  • Tyrant children completely subordinate the family to their whims, wants and needs.
  • They are emotionally highly variable and always drift to extremes. They range from tantrums to revelry, from insult to mime, from absolute happiness to anger that explodes in tantrums.
  • They have low empathy.
  • Low sense of responsibility.
  • Inability to submit to rules, schedules and habits.
  • They demand the undivided attention of their parents (and everyone else).
  • They have low impulse control.
  • They are capricious.
  • They have zero resistance to frustration.
  • They live centered on their spontaneous needs and whims.
  • They do not accept any authority figure.
  • No resources to solve your own problems.
  • They are jealous, selfish and make use of lies.
  • They are vindictive and when they feel wronged they respond with violence.
  • They tend to mistreat their parents (tantrums, yelling, insults …)
  • They do not feel remorse for their behaviors; they rarely ask for forgiveness.
  • They do not conform to any norm, they discuss and challenge them.
  • They have a very rigid mentality and do not tolerate changes.

What are the causes of emperor syndrome?

The emperor syndrome actually shows a very specific psychological condition: oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). This dysfunctional, disobedient and hostile behavior towards any authority figure appears in DSM V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) in the section on impulse control and behavior disorders.

  • Studies such as those carried out at the University of Barcelona, ​​Spain, indicate that this type of disorder is observed between 2 and 17% of the child population. Thus, generally, The appearance of these realities is due in a good part of the cases to a hyperpermissive education and hyperprotection.
  • The lack of a coherent educational style with firm guidelines, clear boundaries, and good emotional communication is another trigger..
  • We cannot ignore the possible presence of anxiety disorders, a bipolar disorder or even depressions.

All these characteristics must be seen early in the child, around 3 or 4 years old and last more than 6 months. The diagnosis must be made by a specialized professional. And so Although the emperor syndrome is often talked about, we must be aware that we are dealing with a real and problematic conduct disorder.

When treating Emperor syndrome in children, the collaboration of parents is necessary.

How is it treated?

Emperor syndrome causes great suffering and hostility at the family and school level. Now, we must consider another equally serious fact: untreated oppositional defiant disorders lead to antisocial behavior tomorrow.

It is decisive that an early intervention be carried out with which, to re-educate families in appropriate educational guidelines and to attend to the child in a personalized way. These would be the guidelines to follow:

  • First, a correct diagnosis would be made, in which the family environment and its upbringing and education guidelines would be assessed.
  • On the other hand, the presence or absence of other conditions should be diagnosed in the child: anxiety, depression, infantile psychosis, etc.
  • Therapists should teach parents how to apply a consistent teaching style, how to set limits, norms… Positive communication is another resource that both parents and children should learn.
  • With regard to children, a therapy should be applied in which to attend a whole series of dimensions: emotional management, impulse control, empathy, learn to respect authority figures, follow habits and routines, learn to solve problems, improve social skills …

My child suffers from Emperor syndrome: what do I do?

It is clear that these realities are always as complex as they are delicate. If you suspect that your child suffers from this disorder, do not hesitate and consult with the pediatrician and, later, with a trusted psychologist to obtain a timely diagnosis and treatment.

In all cases, the close and constant collaboration of parents is required. Without them, this conduct disorder can get worse over time. Love, respect and clear limits are the keys to good education.