Too Much Praise Promotes Narcissism

Posted on June 11, 2015

Sometimes it's cute when kids act self-centered. Yet parenting styles can make the difference between a confident child and a narcissistic nightmare, psychologists at the University of Amsterdam and Utrecht University in the Netherlands concluded from the first longitudinal study on the origins of intense feelings of superiority in children.

Two prominent but nearly opposing schools of thought address how narcissism develops. The first attributes extreme self-love to a lack of affection from parents; the other implicates moms and dads who place their children on a pedestal by lavishing them with praise. Over the course of 18 months, 565 kids aged seven through 11 took multiple surveys designed to measure self-esteem, narcissism and their parents' warmth, answering questions about how much they identify with statements such as "kids like me deserve something extra." The parents filled out reciprocal surveys about their approach to child rearing.

In a March issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, the Dutch researchers report that children of excessively praising parents were more likely to score high on narcissistic qualities but not on self-esteem. They also found that lack of parental warmth showed no such link to narcissism.

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Category(s):Child and/or Adolescent Issues, Child Development

Source material from Scientific American