Can you overpraise your kids? Some seem to think so

Can you overpraise your kids? Some seem to think so

Wednesday, July 22, 2015 by: Antonia
http://www.naturalnews.com/050490_parenting_narcissism_overpraise.html

In a much-publicized recent study “Origins of narcissism in children,” it was revealed that the authors believe “narcissism in children is cultivated by parental overvaluation: Parents believing their child to be more special and more entitled than others.”

This Ohio State University study, published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the United States, received national attention.

The back and forth of what to do, and what not to do, as a parent

Parents today are inundated with conflicting advice on the proper way to raise happy, well-adjusted children. In the past, parents were scolded for not giving their kids enough attention. Now, parents who have tried to correct this style of parenting are ridiculed as being “helicopter parents.” They are accused of over-parenting and overvaluing their kids. To be fair, there might be some truth to those claims, but it is certainly a subjective topic, with wildly differing opinions.

The Ohio State study implies that too much praise for our children can lead to them having an unpleasant, puffed up ego. According to American Psychiatric Association, this is defined as involving “arrogant behavior, a lack of empathy for other people, and a need for admiration – all of which must be consistently evident at work and in relationships. People who are narcissistic are frequently described as cocky, self-centered, manipulative, and demanding.”

Who would want their child to become that kind of individual? Certainly no parent would. On the other hand, an uninvolved style of parenting could lead to far worse outcomes. According to the Positive Parenting Centre, in an uninvolved parenting style, in which the parent is “disengaged and emotionally uninvolved in their child’s life,” there is little, if any, expression of love and affection.

This style of parenting can lead to negative life outcomes including (but not limited to):

Loneliness
Emotional withdrawal
Low self-esteem
Development of fear, stress, and anxiety disorders
Increased chance of addiction to drugs and alcohol

So what is a parent to do, given that no matter which way they turn, they are met with critics who insist their children are doomed if they employ a certain parenting style?

It goes without saying that an uninvolved parenting style would lead to negative outcomes, and most parents already know this. However, how much praise is considered too much? Certainly that is difficult to quantify, and far more difficult to curb, since most parents want the absolute best for their kids.

There is a middle ground, however. If you can tailor your praise to be about your child, rather than about your own opinion, this can be a good way to ensure that they get their self-esteem from their own efforts, as opposed to depending on your approval. And ensuring that our children have high self-esteem is a worthy, valuable goal.

If your goal is to praise your kids in a way that empowers them, try some of these techniques:

Be specific (instead of just saying “good job!” you can say “look at how well you made that drawing”).
Be honest (don’t tell your child they did a great job on something if they did not).
Praise them to others, in front of them.

Regardless of what the study said about praise leading to narcissism in children, you should not be afraid to appreciate your kids and tell them so. Everyone benefits when a child is raised in a loving, supportive environment.

Sources:

http://www.pnas.org

http://www.psychologytoday.com

http://www.the-positive-parenting-centre.com

http://www.parents.com

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