Before you go bragging about your child’s accomplishments to friends and family, you may want to hear about a new study that suggests parents who “overvalue” their children may be encouraging narcissistic behavior. Children of parents who think a little too highly of their talents and abilities tend to feel entitled and that they are better than their peers.
CNN reports about the study led by postdoctoral researcher at the Research Institute of Child Development and Education at the University of Amsterdam, Eddie Brummelman, that warns parents of the dangers of raising children to exhibit narcissistic tendencies.
Every parent strives to make their child feel special, boost their self-esteem by praising them for trying their best and so on. But what exactly does it mean to “overvalue” a child and how does this lead to narcissism?
Brummelman explains how participants in the study were asked questions like whether they thought their child (ages 7 – 12) was “more special” than other children and what they thought their child’s IQ level was. Researchers also spoke to the children and measured their actual IQ’s. Brummelman explains, “And what we found was that parents who overvalue, they think their child is very smart but in reality, the child isn't smarter than others.”
Researchers also made up book titles like “The Tale of Benson Bunny” and they concocted fictional characters and asked parents if they thought their children had ever heard of these things. Interestingly, the parents who overvalued their kids were more likely to report that their children had heard of the titles and people that researchers had made up out of thin air.
Brummelman aptly explains the difference between a narcissistic child and one with a high self-esteem. He says with a narcissist, “You not only think you're great but you think you are better than others.” This type of behavior can be destructive because it leads to feelings of entitlement, a need to be praised often and possibly aggression when things don’t go their way. Brummelman explains, “When they feel they don't get the admiration they want, when they are humiliated or when they are rejected, they tend to lash out aggressively, so it predicts provoked aggression.”
What do you think about the new study that suggests parent who “overvalue” their children may be encouraging narcissistic tendencies?
How do you praise and encourage your child?