A recent study done at The Ohio State University led researchers to suggest that when parents give their children “inflated praise” they might actually be encouraging narcissism. Let’s take a look at the definition of narcissism and an explanation of “inflated praise.”
The dictionary defines a narcissist as a person who is overly self-involved, and often vain and selfish; someone with excessive preoccupation with or admiration of his or herself who feels superior to others.
Not a pretty picture and not a picture painted by the Word of God. As far as “inflated praise,” an example would be telling a child he or she is more special than other children – more entitled. Or he or she is incredibly gifted! The child deserves special treatment. Basically, it’s any exaggerated evaluation, compliment, or praise.
Parents are definitely interested in building their kids’ self-esteem, but inflated praise is not the answer. Kids are smart and they know if they’re receiving honest praise. The keys are to catch your kids in the act of doing something right (or doing something well) and tell them – with no exaggeration.
Here’s an interesting quote from Eddie Brummelman, the author of The Ohio State study.
“If you tell a child with low self-esteem that they did incredibly well, they may think they always need to do incredibly well. They may worry about meeting those high standards and decide not to take on any new challenges.”
So parents, your responsibility is clear. Honestly encourage your children. And encouraging them to encourage to others to a good idea too.