According to a new Dutch study, children who are excessively praised can become narcissistic adults. The findings were published in the newest edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal.
People with narcissistic tendencies consider themselves superior to everyone else. They are success driven and consider they deserve to be treated better than their peers. In case of failure, these types of personas can become difficult to put up with as they can sometimes become violent.
The team of researchers analyzed 565 Dutch children between the ages of 7 and 12. The purpose was to identify narcissist traits like the feeling of being better than everyone else and self-satisfaction. Their parents were also evaluated to see how often they praise their children and also how and when.
Scientist observed that children whose parents praised them on a regular basis, telling them they were better than other kids had scores which clearly pointed out to narcissistic tendencies. Children who had more realistic opinions about themselves obtained lower scores.
One of the authors Brad Bushman, who is also a professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University recommended parents to be “warm and loving” but limit themselves when it came to applauding their children. He continued by saying that:
“We should not boost self-esteem and hope our children will behave well. Instead, we should praise our children after they do well.”
On the other hand, Dr. Gene Beresin, executive director of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds is not very convinced by the study’s results. He says that parents are just one of the factors that could contribute to children developing narcissistic tendencies. Other people such as teachers, peers and siblings could also influence a child’s behavior.
Beresin also considers that there are some differences between Dutch and American children that could make the results less applicable to U.S. kids.
The biggest cause of skepticism in the study was the participants’ age:
“I don’t see how you can label kids this young as narcissistic when it’s generally recognized that such personality traits aren’t fully formed until late adolescence, like around age 18.”
The authors of the study said their research was based on large amounts of data that had previously led to the same results. They added that other possible factors like genetics or other people’s influence were also taken into consideration.
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