A new study is trending after researchers found that children who are overly praised and told that they are special are more likely to become narcissists.
The research was done by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences who studied 565 children between the ages of 7 and 11 in the Netherlands, along with their parents, over the course of a year and a half.
“Rather than raising self-esteem, overvaluing practices may inadvertently raise levels of narcissism,” lead author Eddie Brummelman, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands said in a release.
Children who were described by their parents in a survey as “more special than other children” and as kids who “deserve something extra in life” were more likely to score higher on tests for narcissism than their peers.
“Children believe it when their parents tell them that they are more special than others. That may not be good for them or for society,” said Brad Bushman, co-author of the study and professor of communication and psychology at The Ohio State University, told Eureka Alert.
“Overvaluing parents tended to claim that their child had knowledge of many different topics – even these nonexistent ones,” Brummelman said.
While parents may do this with the good intention of raising their child’s self esteem, the study suggests that it’s “parental warmth” and not “overvaluing parents” that lead to happy, confident kids.
“It is important to express warmth to your children because that may promote self-esteem, but overvaluing them may promote higher narcissism,” said Bushman.
Parents who give emotional warmth like “I let my child know I love him/her” is linked to children who are happy with themselves as a person .
“People with high self-esteem think they’re as good as others, whereas narcissists think they’re better than others,” Bushman said.