Are you raising a narcissist? The pitfalls of too much praise

By Drum Digital
17 March 2015

If you think your child is the most adorable, smartest child in the room and you make sure he or she knows it, you might want to tone down the praise and compliments, or else you might raise a little narcissist, experts warn.

If you think your child is the most adorable, smartest child in the room and you make sure he or she knows it, you might want to tone down the praise and compliments, or else you might raise a little narcissist, experts warn.

A new study by Dutch researchers claims constant and sometimes unqualified praise for kids’ tiniest accomplishments and behaviours can encourage narcissistic behaviour later in life.

“Research shows that narcissism is higher in Western than non-Western countries, and suggests that narcissism levels have been steadily increasing among Western youth over the past few decades,” the authors write.

While narcissism also lies in genetics, some theories have suggested it can be encouraged by parents who withhold praise and love, and that these kids then need to boost their own self-esteems and in the process become arrogant.

However, the new research found a much stronger link between narcissism and parents who treat their child as ‘the most special one’.

The study had children and their parents fill out questionnaires twice yearly, and probed the kids and their parents with questions on whether the kids deserved more than other children, set a good example for others and whether the parents let the children know they loved them.

The study found that parental overvaluation can mean the difference between a child with healthy self-esteem and a child with delusions of grandeur.

“Narcissistic children feel superior to others, believe they are entitled to privileges, and crave for constant admiration from others,” study author Eddie Brummelman told Forbes.

Sources: Forbes, New Scientist

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