The other day as I was scrolling though my Facebook newsfeed I saw a post with a title that made me climb up on my high horse and say, you have got to be kidding me. I rolled my eyes and kept going, refusing to even open the link. However, I saw the same post several times from a few different sources. So, after letting go a little of my self-righteous anger I opened the link: How Parents Create Narcissistic Children. The preview under the title said something about how praising your children will turn them into narcissists. You can see why I was angry, right? What parent isn’t going to praise their children for a job well done? And my kids aren’t narcissists. I’ve met narcissists, they’re the ones who don’t close their mouths long enough to listen to what anyone else has to say, always interrupting because what they have to say is more important, they’re always bragging about themselves, their kids, their pets, everything about them is perfect and they have to let everyone know. My kids don’t do that, I said indignantly. So, I read the article and realized that what I thought the article was about based on the preview wasn’t what I had thought. Just a quick aside, people should really be careful when writing those previews on Facebook. Anyway, praising one’s children isn’t what is turning them into narcissistic jerks. It’s the overvaluing, telling them they’re better than other kids, telling them they’re perfect at everything they do, showing them that they’re entitled, not letting them fail; those are the things that are turning kids into narcissists with whom no one wants to have play dates. The article listed several ways to praise your children without going overboard because there really is a fine line between overpraising and under-praising.
- Learn to accept that your kids are imperfect, just like you are. If we accept their flaws and help them see they aren’t perfect all the time, just like us, they will learn they aren’t better than anyone else.
- When praising them for a job well done, stick to the task at hand. “Good job on getting that home run today!” Don’t say, “You always do such a great job when you play baseball.” It shows the child that his present effort is being praised, rather than it being just a generalization.
- Teach the “Golden Rule”. Teach your child the way to be treated well is to treat others well.
- Teach your child how to empathize with others. If they can see others’ points of view, they will be more apt to understand why someone is upset and that not everything is about them.
I have to admit, I’ve done some of these with my own kids. I’ve told them they always do a good job on this or that. I think a lot of what makes a person a narcissist is personality traits combined with parents or other adults in a kid’s life always telling them they’re perfect or better than others. Nature versus nurture and all that jazz that I read in my psychology book. Bottom line is, don’t be a jerk, and your kid probably won’t be either.