If Your Child Is A Narcissist, You Probably Used This Bad Parenting Tactic

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parents comforting child

Narcissism is a plague on our society. If you’ve ever met a narcissist — and I’m talking a true narcissist, not just someone who’s overly confident and cocky about it — but an actually diagnosed narcissist, you know that they have very few redeeming qualities.

Scientists have long tried to pinpoint exactly how adults become narcissists and have found themselves divided.

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There’s one group that thinks over-indulging your kids and lavishing them with praise sets them up for thinking they’re better than others, which eventually leads to a narcissistic adult, while the other group thinks that it’s the kids who are denied warmth who are prone to develop a sort of defense mechanism that leads to the need to be loved by others, therefore creating narcissism.

But, as I said, for a long time, the two camps remained in their two camps, as if a line was drawn in the sand and they didn’t overlap.

However, a 2015 study found that one of those groups was actually right.

The study was done by the University of Amsterdam and examined 565 kids between the ages of 7 and 12, as well as their parents, over a year and a half. Checking in on the participants every six months, the researchers evaluated the home dynamic through a series of questions to see just how much parents play a role in making their kids raging little narcissists.

And what were the results, you may be wondering? “Narcissism was predicted by parental overvaluation, not by lack of parental warmth,” wrote the researchers. Well then.

What the researchers hope this study will do is eliminate the number of narcissists running around our society. (In their dreams! But I definitely give them an A+ for effort.)

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As the authors of the study noted, no good can come from narcissism. Narcissists are cruel, manipulative, and even prone to violence. The researchers would like to see “proof-effective interventions” put in place to rid the world of narcissists and narcissistic behavior.

The study's researchers also said that they believe this was the first longitudinal research done on the origins of narcissism in youth.

If parents are taught that putting their children on a pedestal and driving into their little brains that they’re better than everyone else is a bad idea, then maybe we can have far fewer war-mongering dictators, and overall cruel, unsympathetic people. It sounds like a utopia to me.

While it may be easy to tell parents to lay off their kids with all those compliments and luxuries that come with being a spoiled little devil, as a childfree woman even I can see how that might be a bit of a challenge.

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Not a day goes by that I don’t look at my dog and tell him he's the greatest creature who has ever lived. I shower him with compliments, give him anything he wants, and when he acts like a jerk, I tell him to own it, because he's the best.

Granted, the jury is still out on whether or not he can totally understand me, but my point is when you love something as much as people love their babies (human or furry), it’s hard not to create a monster.

But I guess we can all make an effort to be less doting and delusional in how we value our little ones, at least for the sake of others, who are clearly not as great as our kids (or puppy).

Let’s be honest: that’s what we’re all thinking anyway, we just need to keep mum about it.

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Amanda Chatel has been a sexual wellness and relationship journalist for over a decade. Her work has been featured in Glamour, Shape, Self, and other outlets.