Sunday, March 15, 2015

How Parents Could Stop Narcissism. From

You think your kid is special? Of course she is. She is a unique combination of two unique individuals with her own unique personality, unique fingerprints, and unique theories about the world. Just don't go telling her that unless you want to raise a big ol' jerk.

Or so says a new study that compared parental styles of praise with children's resulting sense of self-esteem: layering on the compliments can indeed lead to narcissism. AKA, the sort of grandiose self-perception and low empathy that leads a person to think she is God's gift.


  1. I don't have a clear recollection of how my parents fared in this department. A colleague says her mother told her something like, "you are God's gift to me; out in the world, you are just one of all the other God's gifts to their mothers."

    One of the comments on the Jezebel article expressed something quite similar. Another referenced Mr. Rogers, who I believe espoused that everyone was special.

    I found interesting that one commenter seemed to be saying that praising effort above innate talent would make children less empathetic towards those who didn't achieve as much. The argument seemed to be that children would blame others' lack of achievement on lack of effort without recognizing that some people have to work harder at some things to get even mediocre results.

    Interesting article. I should read it again, in depth.

  2. Mr. Rogers sang, "You are my friend, you are special." The older idea of specialness applies in relationships like friend-friend or parent-child, not in school/work/sports/music. My parents were special to one another, to their neighbors and friends, and to their relatives, but elsewhere, they were fine with being 'nothing special,' and I hope I too can keep following this principle.

  3. I haven't read this article but pay attention to my comment anyway.

    Mr. Rogers praised kids as special 40 years ago when parenting was a lot different. Maybe a kid did need to be told he was special when he got the belt or was yelled at for doing something wrong. Now that parenting is much softer, kids don't need that type of praise as much.

    1. You raise important points.

      My recollection is that he didn't equate being special with being better than anyone else per se, or with being entitled to anything unearned. However, that's just my recollection, which was formed from his show as well as everything else that was going on well over 40 years ago, and which cannot now be separated into its constituents. The superposition of messages from multiple sources must be considered.

    2. These seem to be more than 140 characters. I'm unable to take it all in. I'm confounded and heartbroken. About this. About everything.