Does too much praise turn children into narcissists?

does too much praise turn your children into narcissists maternity and infant family

Apparently, if parents treat their children like they’re important and special there’s a real risk that they will turn out to be narcissists. While we like a self-obsessed person no more than the rest of you, we have to say, that this sounds like total rubbish.

The study

Researchers in the US and in the Netherlands followed 565 children aged between seven and 12 years. They also followed 705 parents for 18 months and compared two theories on the origins of narcissism.

Theory one is based on social learning. It attributes narcissism to a feeling of ‘over-valuation’ from parents which leads their kids to believe that they are especially special.

Theory two suggests the opposite. That a lack of parental warmth creates an inflated sense of superiority and expectation of special treatment.

“When children are seen by their parents as being more special and more entitled than other children, they may internalise the view that they are superior individuals, a view that is at the core of narcissism,” wrote the study authors, Brad Bushman.

What’s the difference between narcissism and self-love?

We all want the best for our children, and in this media-obsessed world, we want to make sure they grow up to be confident, assertive people full to the brim with self-belief. Does these attributes make a person narcissistic? We don’t like to think so. And we couldn’t bear the thought of our kids feeling unsure, or not good enough for the world.

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Superiority versus self-esteem

The study advises that the way we speak to our kids has an impact on how they will grow up. This part interests us a bit more. The researchers found that there’s a difference between children who receive parental warmth instilling self-esteem, as opposed to parental guidance instilling a sense of superiority. Parental warmth and appreciation “may internalise the view that they are valuable individuals, a view that is at the core of self-esteem.”

What we took from it:
  • Tell our kids that we love them
  • Tell our kids that they are appreciated

But what do you think? Do you think narcissists are born? Or are they grown?

maternity & infant

Originally posted 2015-03-11 10:08:33.