Narcissism VS Self-Esteem

Posted on September 28, 2018

Compliments are necessary in our lives. During the most basic every day conversations with people, compliments are inevitable as people naturally receive and give compliments. However, the way one responds to compliments differs between individuals, some acknowledge with pride and confidence while some just nod in a shy manner or politely disagree.

Complimenting children might be known as part of effective parenting where praises are given to lift their self-esteems through motivation, giving recognition and acknowledgement, and showing affection. However, sometimes it isn’t that simple, and this plan could backfire. There is more to the relationship between narcissism and compliments and how to truly nurture a positive self-esteem in children.

Self-esteem improves and ensures a stable mental health by lowering the risk of depression and anxiety and facilitating healthy relationships. Narcissism however, can negatively affect a one’s mental health from young. Narcissism is commonly known as an exaggerated, very much blown up and excessive self-esteem. Narcissism is about thinking that the self is better or a tier higher than others and others cannot match up to the self’s standards. Relationships to narcissistic people is like a competition where only one can win, only the self can win. Whereas for self-esteem, it is about knowing your own worth as a person and not necessarily feel that you’re better than others. People with positive self-esteem see themselves as equal and the same as others in terms of worth. Relationships to them are both parties working together to get what they want, be it different or common goals.

Narcissism is a characteristic one can be born with. Children who are exposed to narcissism in the later part of their childhood are usually active, attention-seeking, lack emotional regulation and get annoyed and disappointed when they cannot get what they want. Although one can be born with narcissistic traits, it does not mean that this trait will fixed for life. Narcissism is influenced by interactions with people and other experiences with people. Children who are overly pampered by their parents stand a higher chance of absorbing narcissistic characteristics, especially when they constantly receive special and exclusive treatment from their parents. Parents who overvalue their children usually overestimate, give their children stress to be unique and different from others, and excessively praising their children’s capabilities. Gradually, their children will think they are better and more deserving than others. As narcissistic traits continue to develop as children grow older, those children will more likely become more competitive than cooperative while working in a group setting such that they can stand out and seem like the more capable candidate and receive compliments and admiration from others. They choose environments that allow them to demonstrate their narcissism.

Narcissism can be first seen at a young age of 7 years old. At this age, children learn to make self-judgments and talk about themselves while comparing themselves to others. Narcissistic children tend to make statements about themselves that lack social comparison. Instead of making statements like “I play the piano very well” or “I am a good brother”, they will say things like “I am better than others”, “I am smarter than her”.

Sometimes children can be so confident about their abilities that the statements they make about themselves are unrealistically good, but that does not mean they are narcissistic, since narcissism is when one believes he or she is more deserving and better than others. Highly believing in oneself does not mean he or she thinks they are better than others.

Western culture believes that everyone needs to be narcissistic to a certain extent to succeed in this world. They claim that if one does not take charge of their superiority and claim what you deserve, others might take them instead. This is a toxic way of thinking. If one feels superior to others, he or she will tend to be defensive and violently object against criticisms about them. Narcissism clouds our vision and prevents us from evaluating criticisms objectively and learning from them to better ourselves as a person.

People often fall into the praise paradox syndrome, where although one’s compliments meant well, it leads to unexpected negative consequences. Studies have shown that when children with low self-esteem received more exaggerated compliments, their self-esteem became lower and they became more narcissistic.

Compliments should focus on praising one’s behavior rather than personality, if not children will think that what and how they do certain things changes the way their parents view their character. Compliment them for an aspect which they have control over and can amend about themselves. We should always be conscious of the implicit message sent to the child as even compliments that mean well can deliver a negative unintended message. Personalities are not fixed, they can be changed through influences and experiences that might alter certain characteristics of theirs.

Being affectionate and warm with your children can increase their self-esteem levels without letting the child think they are more superior than others. Spend quality time with your children and let them know you appreciate them for who they are as a person and you value your relationship and time with them.

Category(s):Child and/or Adolescent Issues, Child Development, Parenting, Personality problems, Self-Esteem

Source material from Psychology Today