You may think that telling your child that he or she is special is good for your child’s self-esteem, but in reality, you’re turning your children into MONSTERS. This, according to a study out of Ohio State that sought to examine why there are more narcissists in the United States than in other Western countries:
Parental overvaluation was the largest predictor of a child’s narcissism over time, but interestingly, it did not predict self-esteem. In other words, telling kids how exceptional they are doesn’t produce kids with good healthy self-esteem - it just makes them more narcissistic.
“People with high self-esteem think they’re as good as others, whereas narcissists think they’re better than others,” said co-author of the study Brad Bushman. “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.”
In other words, the study seems to suggest that praising a child’s efforts gives them high self-esteem, but telling the child that he or she is special snowflake fosters narcissism, which is perfectly in line with how I parent:
“Great job kiddo on your art project. It’s beautiful! But THAT DOESN’T MAKE YOU BETTER THAN ANYONE ELSE, YOU LITTLE SHIT. You think you’re special because you can glue bottle caps to poster board? WELL, YOU’RE NOT. You’re just like everyone else, son. And you better fucking remember it.”
The good news is, parenting is only responsible for half of the narcissism equation. The other half is genetic, which means that, if you’re a smug asshole, your child will probably be a smug asshole, too. Unless you nip that in the bud early by reinforcing the message that your child is a nobody who will grow up to be nothing.
If your child is genetically predisposed to narcissism, it’s all the more important not to falsely inflate his or her sense of worth, but instead to be more down-to-earth about congratulations, and more reserved about praise.
That’s what I said, right?