What the heck is “narcissism”?
Unless you’ve taken psychology in school, or have googled for the definition, you may not have come across this word. On the web this week, however, you may have encountered it, especially with reference to raising kids. A study of 565 children and their parents has come out of the Netherlands showing that kids who had parents who overly praised them could believe that they were more special than others and convinced of their own importance.
We all want our kids to think of others and to turn out kind and generous. I believe that parents are shocked at the idea that praising their children could lead to selfishness and lack of generosity. We need to look at this idea very carefully and understand it completely. I’m afraid that some parents might decide to cut back on warm and loving comments as a “knee-jerk” reaction to this study!!
The definition of narcissism is excessive interest in oneself, self-love, or self-absorption. I think, when raising children, we could call it “self-centeredness”.
I read an article in HealthDay that came to me by email, with some very important quotes from Brad Bushman, a professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University. He said, “It’s good to be a warm parent and a loving parent, but it’s not OK to treat your children as if they are better than others… everyone we meet is better than us at something, and the fact that we’re all human beings makes us equally valuable.” He went on to say that people behave very badly when they think they’re superior to others, and it’s much better to treat everybody with respect because we’re all part of the human family.
If you ENCOURAGE, RATHER THAN PRAISE, you’ll avoid over-focusing on your children and will not be feeding their egos to the point that they’re thinking mainly of themselves, craving admiration and looking down on others.
HOW TO ENCOURAGE? HOW IS IT DIFFERENT FROM PRAISE?
- NOTICE GOOD BEHAVIOR AND COMMENT ON IT. For example, say ” I liked how you greeted Mrs. Jones” or ” You worked hard on your painting” or “I like the colors you used”. Notice the EFFORT, NOT THE CHILD.
- Stop saying “You’re wonderful”, “You’re special”, “Good girl” or “Good boy”. You are focusing on the child himself. Instead, NOTICE HIS ACTION.
- BE WARM AND LOVING WITH YOUR CHILDREN. Say “I love you”, “It’s so much fun to be together”, “I enjoyed your company”, for example. Give lots of hugs and kisses.
- Look directly at your child when she speaks to you. Listen carefully to what she is saying. RESPECT HER POINT OF VIEW.
- Think before you criticize. It’s better to notice good behavior than to fixate on negative behavior. WHEN YOU COMMENT ON GOOD BEHAVIOR, YOU ARE FEEDING IT AND IT WILL INCREASE.
One of my previous blog posts is about encouragement. I hope you’ll read it.
I’m available to help you if you need clarification or assistance with encouraging your children or any other challenge you might be facing with child-raising. Click on “Special Offer” at the top of the page to check out how we could work together.
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