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The Exhausted Woman
with Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC

The Difference between Obstinate Teenagers vs. Budding Narcissists

Image by Henrietta Harris
Image by Henrietta Harris

It can be difficult to discern the difference between obstinate teenage behavior and a budding narcissist. After all, narcissism cannot be officially diagnosed until a person reaches the age of eighteen. However, the person needs to have demonstrated narcissistic behavior for a period of five years prior to the actual diagnosis. So how can a parent figure out whom they are dealing with?

Here is a chart that might help to clear up the confusion between the two:

Obstinate TeenagerBudding Narcissist
School workComplain about the work and blame teachers, parents and the system for the dysfunction but eventually do the work.Complain about the work and blame everyone but refuses to do the work unless there is a tangible benefit or the teacher submits to their way of doing things.
ChoresRefuses to do chores unless threatened or punished with no money or car privileges.Refuses to do chores and sees threats as a challenge. Frequently bribes or manipulates siblings into doing their work.
SiblingsOscillates between liking and disliking siblings.Is sugary nice to siblings when they want something. Bullies them to get their way. Is abusive (verbally or physically) when siblings don’t automatically comply with their wishes.
ParentsIs defiant and/or rebellious against parental authority but has not always demonstrated this behavior.Has no respect for parental authority. Seeks out ways to publically embarrass parents. Holds grudges and refuses to recognize or live within any boundaries.
TeachersConstantly finds fault with teachers and school system.Selectively chooses which authority they deem worthy of their attention. Is prejudicial with certain types of authority to the point of name calling, refusal to submit, and blatant disrespect.
FriendsValues some friendships. Is emphatic towards those they approve but is harsh towards those they don’t like.Shows repeated prejudice and superiority even towards peers. Has surface level friendships and shows no empathy.
EntitlementBelieves they deserve things just because they want them and is “annoyed” when it doesn’t happen.Will throw a 2 year old like temper tantrum if they don’t get what they believe they are entitled to receive.
AppearanceLikes to wear clothes that are disarming and draws attention.Are extremely particular about clothing. Demands the best, designer labels, and are always well groomed. Very appearance driven.
CriticismHates to be criticized. Immediately rejects it but will think about it later and might even conform.Perceives insults where there were none. Immediately hates the person who gave criticism and begins a verbal assault. Will seek revenge.
AttitudeUnaware of how their behavior or attitude affects others. Shows some but not a lot of remorse for things done wrong or gratitude towards those who are kind.There is no remorse for their mistakes, instead, they seek to blame others. There is no gratitude for what others do for them, rather an expectation that they deserve it.
AchievementsMinimize achievements and can be self-deprecating when the achievements are recognized.Exaggerates achievements and constantly tries to one-up those around them. Seeks out opportunities to be recognized even if they did not do the achievement.



The Difference between Obstinate Teenagers vs. Budding Narcissists

Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC

Christine Hammond is a leading mental health influencer, author, and guest speaker. As an author of the award-winning “The Exhausted Woman’s Handbook,” and more than 500 articles, Christine has more than one million people downloading her podcast “Understanding Today’s Narcissist,” and more than 400,000 views on YouTube. Her practice specializes in treating families of abuse, and trauma, with personality disorders involved which are based on her own personal experience. Her new book, Abuse Exposed: Identifying Family Secrets that Breed Dysfunction will be published in 2020. Christine is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Qualified Supervisor by the State of Florida, a National Certified Counselor, Certified Family Trauma Professional, with extensive training in crisis intervention and peaceful resolution. Based in Orlando, you may connect with Christine at Grow with Christine (


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APA Reference
Hammond, C. (2019). The Difference between Obstinate Teenagers vs. Budding Narcissists. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 9, 2020, from