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Posts Tagged ‘Over-praising children’

Can You Ever Praise a Child Too Much?

March 10, 2015

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Yesterday we discussed the best approach for praising children. Well, new research indicates that over praising children can lead them to become narcissistic.

But can you really over praise a child?

My belief is that narcissistic children come about from praise that isn’t genuine and isn’t based on real effort, achievement or skill. In other words, it isn’t praising that makes children become narcissistic, but rather it is lying.

 

Overvaluing and overpraising children can contribute to the development of narcissism, researchers have found.

A study, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science , answers a long-standing question of whether narcissistic traits develop as a result of too much or too little parental attention.

Narcissism is named after the proud, vain hunter Narcissus, a figure in Greek mythology who fell so in love with his own reflection in a still pool of water that he eventually drowned in it.

Lead researcher and post-doctoral researcher Eddie Brummelman says he became fascinated with narcissism in children and wanted to explore how it emerged.

“It’s children who feel they are better than others, but they also demand constant attention and admiration from others,” says Brummelman, from the University of Amsterdam.

“In essence, they are very vulnerable, says Brummelman.

“For instance, when they are criticised or feel humiliated, they tend to become aggressive.”

There have been two competing theories about the parental influence on narcissistic traits; one suggests that narcissism evolves as a defence mechanism to cope with a lack of parental warmth and affection, while the other posits that it’s actually the result of too much praise.

“Social learning theory suggests that the narcissism develops when parents believe their children are more important than others, more special than others, more entitled than others,” Brummelman says.

The study enrolled 565 Dutch children aged 7-11 years and at least one parent, telling them that it was a study of self-image and how parents raise their children.

The children were given questionnaires designed to measure their self-esteem, and to evaluate how much affection they experienced from their parents, while the parents completed questionnaires designed to pick up on overvaluation but also to assess how affectionate parents were towards their children.

“The questionnaire has items like, ‘my child is more special than others’, ‘my child is a great example for others to follow’,” Brummelman says.

Researchers then asked parents to evaluate how smart they thought their child was, and compared it to the child’s actual IQ, but also tested how much parents valued their child’s knowledge levels.

“We gave them a long list of many different topics to choose from that the children should be familiar with when they are eight years old, and we included some topics that do not exist,” Brummelman says,

“You see that these overvaluing parents, they claim the children have knowledge of all kinds of different topics, including these non-existent ones.”

They found that there was a significant relationship between parental overvaluation and narcissistic traits in their children, but Brummelman stresses that it was a relatively small association.

“It’s good for parents to know that they don’t run the risk of creating a narcissist overnight,” he says.

“It’s a very modest association, but it does show that over time, overvaluation can make an important contribution to the development of narcissism, but … it’s not the only cause.”

Like other personality traits, narcissism is moderately heritable and partly rooted in early emerging temperamental traits, so some children may be more likely than others to become narcissistic when they are overvalued, say the researchers.

 

 

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What is the Difference Between Over-Praising Children and Lying to Them?

January 8, 2014

 

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Over-praising children is tantamount to lying to them. If a teacher or parent needs to resort to embellishment then they have misread the child.

Developing trust is absolutely not negotiable when it comes to children. Once you are caught out on a lie or exaggeration you stand to lose the trust of the child, rendering everything else you say as meaningless.

But over-praising isn’t just lying, it is lazy. Every child has unique and interesting aspects to their personality. Every child possesses skills and praiseworthy character traits. If you find yourself over-praising your student, it means that you haven’t yet fully appreciated the child for who he/she is.

One can only love ones self if one understands themself. Self-confidence can only be attained once the person is in tune with his/her true abilities. That’s why genuine praise is so profoundly important. By reminding children of their legitimate positive aspects and traits, you will help them get in touch with who they are and what they can be.  If you lie to them, sooner or later they will work it out and may choose to dismiss or neglect their greatest qualities as a result.

Some would say if you haven’t got anything authentic to say, don’t say anything at all. I say, don’t stop until you have something real to praise a child with.

And then keep on supporting that child to the best of your abilities. They are worth it!

 

 

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