A new study shows that narcissistic children may have their parents to blame. When parents put children on a high pedestal and heap on unearned praises, the children develop an overblown sense of their own importance.
In the March 9 online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers reported that when parents overvalue their children, they tend to raise children with an inflated sense of superiority.
“It comes pretty naturally,” said senior study author Brad Bushman, a professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University. “Most parents think their children are special, and deserve better treatment. But when our children receive special treatment, they become narcissistic and come to believe they deserve more and are superior to others.”
Conversely, parental warmth and affection can enhance a child’s self esteem, but does not lead to narcissism.
“It’s good to be a warm parent and a loving parent, but it’s not OK to treat your children as if they are better than others,” Bushman concluded. “Everyone we meet is better than us at something, and the fact that we’re all human beings makes us equally valuable.”
The study evaluated 565 children between the ages of 7 and 11 from the netherlands, along with their parents.