Certain Parenting Techniques Can Lead To Narcissistic Children


Parents who believe their children are more special or deserve more than other kids can create young narcissists, according to a new study.

“Loving your child is health and good, but thinking your child is better than other children can led to narcissism, and there is nothing healthy about narcissism,” Brad Bushman, a professor at the Ohio State University, said.

Researchers conducted a study of 565 children between the ages of 7 and 12. They conducted interviews with the children and their parents every six months for an 18-month period of time. According to Bushman, the first signs of narcissism appeared around the age of 8.

"Before that every kid is a narcissist," Bushman said. "If you go into a classroom of 5-year-olds and ask who here is good at math they will all raise their hand. It isn't until about age 8 that they start to compare themselves with others."

At each six month study period, the children were asked to rate their response to 10 items in the Childhood Narcissism Scale from 0 to 3. Some statements included “Kids like me deserve something extra” or “I am very good at making other people believe what I want them to believe.” Parents were also asked to fill out a scale with statements like “My child deserves special treatment” and “I would find it disappoint if my child was just a ‘regular’ child.”

Researchers found that parental warmth was associated with high self esteem in their children, though over evaluation was not. The study authors explained that when children are seen as “more special” by their parents, they internalize that view as a superior individual. However, children who are treated by their parents only with affection internalize that view and translate it into self esteem.

Researchers noted that a child doesn’t have to stay a narcissist forever. According to Eddie Brummelman, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Amsterdam, the trait is not ingrained in personalities.

Source: L.A. Times / Photo Credit: Flickr


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