OK, confession time. Anyone out there think their kid/s are a-holes? Don’t worry, it’s OK, we won’t tell. But we know this phenomenon exists. Sure, sure, they are adorable and sweet but no one said they can’t be jerks at the same time. And those jerk-y qualities? They might be coming from us parents. Whoops!
A new study out of Ohio State University suggests that constant praise for the teensy-weensiest of our kids’ accomplishments is giving them a serious case of douchebaggery. The more we tell them how beautiful/brilliant/perfect they are, the more over-inflated their egos become.
The study, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, is based on 565 children — between the ages of seven and 11 — in the Netherlands who were surveyed over the course of a year and a half, along with their devoted parents.
“Rather than raising self-esteem, overvaluing practices may inadvertently raise levels of narcissism,” said Eddie Brummelman, lead author of the study.
Study co-author Brad Bushman added, “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.”
So, if you don’t want to raise the perfect little narcissist and risk Johnny or Janey becoming (more?) annoying, here are a few things you might want to think twice about saying:
“You’re so smart.”
Praise a kid on how hard he/she works, not their intelligence. Otherwise they’ll believe things should come easy for them and they’ll give up when things get tough.
“You’re the most beautiful child on the planet.”
First off, if you have more than one kid, you’re in trouble. Second, the last thing you want to hear is your child causing chaos at school when she tells her classmates that she’s the most beautiful; something every kid around her has heard.
“You can do no wrong.”
If Mom and Dad keep telling him that everything he does is wonderful and he doesn’t get disciplined for the bad stuff, he will become the most insufferable adult imaginable.
“You’re my number-one special guy/gal.”
In your household, it’s fine. But beyond your white picket fence, she will truly get it in her giant head that she is the world’s number-one human — and we all know that title goes to Taylor Swift.
“My child is a great example for other children to follow.”
According to you. But parents tend to have blinders on when it’s their kid so your kid might not be the leader you think she is.
“You’re such a great singer!”
Those pitchy reality show auditions? Yeah, blame the parents who assured their kids that they have a voice like an angel. Plus, there might be some other kid who’s more deserving of the spotlight.
“You’re an amazing artist/gymnast/swimmer.”
Positive pronouncements can be limiting and if a child isn’t as good as he/she thinks they are, they might be less likely to try something new later on for fear of not living up to what they perceive as your high expectations. Focus on the effort, not the result.
“You’re my perfect little angel!”
You’ve probably also been saying “no one’s perfect” so all you’re doing is contradicting yourself. Stop it.