Emperor’s Syndrome: High, Aggressive and Overbearing Children

The changes in the socio-cultural and work environment of the last decades have paved the way for the emergence of certain dysfunctional behaviors in children.

One of the sets of attitudes and behaviors that worry parents the most is that of the returning child the undisputed owner of the family, Subjecting other family members to their demands and whims.

Do you know the “emperor syndrome”?

Educational psychologists have already called Emperor’s Syndrome the “emperor children”, who choose which dishes to cook, where the family will go for the holidays, which TV channel they watch at home, when they go to bed or do different activities, and so on.

In professional settings, Emperor Syndrome is called Difficult Opposition Disorder (TOD).

To achieve their goals, they yell at, threaten and physically and psychologically attack their parents. We could say that his level of maturity in the field of empathy (This ability to put yourself in the other person’s shoes) is underdeveloped. Because of this, they don’t seem able to experience feelings such as love, guilt, forgiveness, or compassion.

Enter the mind of the authoritarian child

This phenomenon has been called “ emperor syndrome ” because child emperors establish behavioral and interpersonal guidelines for prioritizing their whims and requests above the authority of their parents or guardians. Anyone who does not respect the imperatives of the child is the victim of scandalous fury and even assault.

The violence that children exercise towards their parents, learning to control them psychologically, leads them to obey and achieve their wishes. This characteristic in the personality of the children has also received the denomination of “child dictators”, due to the undoubted domination which is exerted in the familiar womb.


Emperor children are easily distinguished: they often exhibit personality traits typical of egocentricity and have a small frustration tolerance: They do not realize that their demands are not being met. These traits do not go unnoticed in the home environment, let alone at school, where their demands may be less met.

These are children who have not learned to control themselves or to regulate their own feelings and emotions. They have the expertise to learn about their parents’ weaknesses, which they end up manipulating on the basis of threats, assaults, and inconstant arguments.

the causes

Although some research has sought to elucidate the genetic causes of this syndrome, the truth is that there is a large consensus among the scientific community that Emperor Syndrome has causes of psychosocial origin. In this way, the decisive influence of the change on the work and social model is highlighted, a factor which influences the quantity and quality of time that parents can devote to their children.

Many educational psychologists and educational psychologists have pointed out that one of the parental factors that can lead the child to acquire behavioral patterns of Emperor Syndrome is the limited time parents have to educate and set rules and limits to their children. The economic needs and the instability of the labor market do not offer the tutors the time and the space necessary for the breeding, causing an educational style of culpógeno type, and being inclined to consent and overprotect the children.

A lack of is also often observed in these children emotional family habits, Neglect the need to play and interact with children. Socially, one of the problems that serves as a breeding ground for egocentric behavior infantile is the ultrapermissive attitude of adults towards children.

    Differentiation between authority and authoritarianism

    The dominant educational style decades ago was based on authoritarianism: Parents who shouted, dictated orders and exercised punitive control over their children’s conduct. For fear of falling back into this style that many suffered in their own skin, the current teaching style has turned to the opposite extreme: the ultrapermissivity.

    This is why it is important to remember that authority is not the same as authoritarianism: parents must exercise a controlled and intelligent degree of authority, in a healthy manner and adapting to educational and developmental needs of each child.

    The culture of the whole is valid: the ethics of hedonism and consumerism

    When we talk about education and educational styles for our children, we must remember their crucial influence moral values society as a whole, because this superstructural form of shared ethics will promote certain vices and / or virtues in the attitude of the child.

    the consumerist culture the current is abandoned by hedonism and the need for leisure and readiness as inalienable values. This comes up against any kind of internal or external imposition of responsibility on its own actions and with the culture of effort. If these values ​​are not well managed and reoriented, the child mistakenly learns that his right to have fun or to do whatever he wants may trump the right of others to be respected, and they lose control. notion that rewards require prior effort.

    Family and school education

    Doubtful parents exercising a passive and lax educationThey neglect to establish frames of reference for children’s behavior, always allowing a response, giving in to their blackmail and being victims up to verbal and physical attacks.

    The education system is also saturated. While parents have relented and with all their authority, teachers are seen in a position to set limits on children who have been educated to disobey – and challenge – their demands. It is true that teachers who try to set rules receive disapproval and complaints from parents, who do not allow anyone to exercise any authority over their children. This strengthens and consolidates the infant emperor in his attitude.

    The teenage emperor boy

    At the stage of adolescence, the emperor children consolidated theirs behavioral and moral guidelines, Being unable to conceive of any external authority which imposes certain limits on them. In the most serious cases, they can even attack their parents, being a complaint widely reported to police stations and increasingly common. In fact, it is mothers who take the worst, those who suffer a comparatively greater proportion of assault and harassment from their children.

    Cement a good education from childhood

    Professionals in psychology, educational psychology and mental health agree that it is essential to build a solid foundation in the education of children. To educate future children, adolescents and adults in good health, free and responsible, we must not give up set clear limits, Allow children to experience a certain degree of frustration so that they can understand that the world does not revolve around their egos, and gradually instill in them a culture of effort and respect for others. Only then can they tolerate frustration, commit to achieving their goals and strive to achieve their goals, realizing the value of things.

    For more information on practical tips to avoid having an emperor son, we recently published this article:

    • “The 8 basic tips for not spoiling your child”

    A psychologist tells us about emperor syndrome

    Vicente Garrido, Prisologist and criminologist at the University of Valencia, offers us his professional point of view on tyrannical children in a full interview on EiTB.

    Bibliographical references:

    • Aitchison, J. (1992). The articulated mammal. Introduction to psycholinguistics. Madrid: Editorial alliance.
    • Bruner, J. (1997). Education, the gateway to culture. Madrid: learning viewer.
    • Burman, I. (1998). The deconstruction of evolutionary psychology. Madrid.
    • García Galera, Mª du C. (2000). Television, violence and childhood. The impact of the media.
    • Kimmel, DC and Weiner, IB (1998). Adolescence: a developmental transition. Barcelona: Ariel.
    • Piaget, J. (1987). The moral criterion in the child. Barcelona: Martínez Roca.
    • Pinker, S. (2001). The instinct of language. Madrid: Editorial alliance.

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