Study Says Praising Kids Makes Them Narcissistic Brats — I Say Phooey!

Nannies Should Keep Praising Kids!

A 2015 study trended all over social media with headlines reading “Too Much Praise Turns Can Turn Your Kids into Narcissistic Jerks.”

The problem I have with the headlines is that I used to work in social work. I saw firsthand the negative results of criticism, yelling, abuse, and neglect on children. After seeing the harmful effects of abuse and neglect on kids it will be nearly impossible to convince me that praise hurts children.

In fact, we are all born self-centered and egocentric. We only can learn to consider other’s feelings as we mature.

No one wants to raise spoiled brats. We want kids to learn be good sports (lose graciously), to be empathetic towards others, and be humble. This often seems difficult for nannies who are helping raise kids in materialistic and affluent homes.

But it can be done even in the most privileged of homes. In the book The Price of Privilege, Madeline Levine convincingly explains that some effects of an affluent culture, such as materialism, competition, and perfectionism, do contribute to children’s psychological problems. But as long as children experience failure, so they can learn how to successfully cope with frustrations, disappointments, challenges, and opportunities, they will turn out fine.

In reading the The Price of Privilege we learn that the key is for parents and nannies to encourage children’s internal self-worth, not external motivation, when raising children.

It is true that narcissism is likely caused in part by environmental factors. But, psychiatrists don’t usually diagnose narcissism until the late teens because our personalities aren’t fully developed much before 18-years-old. In other words, kids naturally have many characteristics of narcissism.

I am certain that working parents are looking to hire nannies that nurture their children. I don’t think it’s praising kids that is the danger — focusing on materialistic rewards and expecting kids to be perfect are huge problems. Praising them to help encourage a good self-esteem, while teaching them how to handle frustration and failure, and to respect others will help them develop into healthy adults. Nannies should not start criticizing kids or use this study as a reason not to praise the children in their care.

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