Good Job! How You're Turning Your Kid Into a Narcissist

smug kid

Like any good parent, you ooh and ahh over every scribble of "art" your kids bring home. You give a standing ovation at their school play, where they stand there immobile, "starring" as trees. After all, boosting kids' self esteem is as important as feeding them dinner ... only a new study from Ohio State University suggests that all that ego stroking can backfire: Rather than raise their self esteem, too much praise turns them into narcissists.

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In case you're confused by the difference between healthy self-esteem and narcissism, here it is in a nutshell: Kids with good self-esteem thinks they're as good as others (which is good). Narcissists think they're better than others (which is bad).

To reach these conclusions, researchers gauged narcissistic tendencies in kids by asking them to rate how much they agreed with statements like "Kids like me deserve something extra." The researchers also gauged kids' self-esteem by asking them to rate how much they agreed with statements like, "Kids like me are happy with themselves as a person."

More from The Stir: 6 Ways You're Turning Your Kid Into a Greedy, Ungrateful Monster

The researchers also surveyed their parents on how much they "valued" their kids by asking them to rate how much they agreed with statements like, "My child is a great example for other children to follow."

Through follow-up surveys administered over a year and a half, researchers found that the more parents "overvalued" their kids (i.e. heaped on praise), the the more narcissistic their kids were. Plus, oddly, all that praise did not boost their self-esteem one bit. 

Message to moms: Telling kids how exceptional they are doesn’t produce confident kids. It just turns them into narcissistic, self-centered jerks. So while you of course shouldn't ignore your kids's accomplishments, don't go overboard with your praise, either. Treat them as good as other kids, but not better, and they'll turn into the confident kids we all strive to create.

Do you think parents overpraise their kids? Do you?

 

Image via Jo millington/shutterstock

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