Posts Tagged ‘ self-awareness ’

Are You Raising Narcissistic Kids?

Monday, March 9th, 2015

Girl looking at self in mirrorParents are wired to love their children unconditionally and to believe they’re extra special (and who can blame them!), but according to research, “overvaluing” your child may hurt them in the long run.

A new study shows that children whose parents think they are “more special than other children” or “deserve something extra in life,” display more narcissistic characteristics and behaviors.

Researchers collected data from 565 children (ages 7 to 11) and their parents in order to find out how narcissism develops. Over the course of a year and a half, participants completed four surveys that measured children’s levels of self-esteem and narcissism, as well as parents’ emotional warmth and their tendency to overvalue their children’s abilities.

The difference between high self-esteem and narcissism was clearly evident. Children who had high self-esteem reported being happy with themselves without believing they were better than others. Narcissists believed their worth was higher than others, which can contribute to aggression and violence later in life.

Parental warmth was also associated with higher self-esteem, while overvaluation was linked with higher levels of narcissism. According to the study, which appears in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, “parental overvaluation was connected to narcissism even after the researchers took into account the narcissism levels of the parents.” Put another way: narcissistic parents don’t always have narcissistic children; instead, excessive praise and compliments are strong influencing factors.

This study expands on earlier research that aimed to show the degree to which some parents overvalue their children. Parents who overestimated their children’s worth claimed they had an abundance of knowledge, even about topics that didn’t actually exist. But overvaluation is not the only factor that causes narcissism; individual traits and genetics are also important to consider.

Since beginning research on this topic, Brad Bushman, co-author of the study and professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University, has altered his own parenting style to avoid treating his three children like they are extra special. “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,” Bushman says.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

What's Your Parenting Style?
What's Your Parenting Style?
What's Your Parenting Style?

Image: Girl looking in mirror via Shutterstock

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Babies May Be Born with Some Self-Awareness

Monday, November 25th, 2013

A new study has found that despite all appearances, babies are actually born with an awareness of their own bodies.  More from LiveScience:

Body awareness is an important skill for distinguishing the self from others, and failure to develop body awareness may be a component of some disorders such as autism. But little research has been done to find out when humans start to understand that their body is their own.

To determine babies’ awareness of their bodies, the researchers took a page from studies on adults. In a famous illusion, people can be convinced that a rubber hand is their own if they see the hand stroked while their own hand, hidden from view, is simultaneously stroked.

These studies show that information from multiple senses — vision and touch, in this case — are important for body awareness, said Maria Laura Filippetti, a doctoral student at the Center for Brain and Cognitive Development at the University of London.

To find out if the same is true of babies, Filippetti and her colleagues tested 40 newborns who were between 12 hours and 4 days old. The babies sat on the experimenter’s lap in front of a screen. On-screen, a video showed a baby’s face being stroked by a paintbrush. The researcher either stroked the baby’s face with a brush in tandem with the stroking shown on the screen, or delayed the stroking by five seconds.

Next, the babies saw the same video but flipped upside down. Again, the researcher stroked the infants’ faces in tandem with the upside-down image or delayed the stroking by three seconds.

Working with babies so young is a challenge, Filippetti told LiveScience.

“It is challenging just in terms of the time you actually have when the baby is fully awake and responsive,” she said.

To determine whether the babies were associating the facial stroking they saw on-screen with their own bodies, as in the rubber-hand illusion, the researchers measured how long the babies looked at the screen in each condition. Looking time is the standard measurement used in infant research, because babies can’t answer questions or verbally indicate their interest.

The researchers found that babies looked the longest at the screen when the stroking matched what they felt on their own faces. This was true only of the right-side-up images; infants didn’t seem to associate the flipped faces with their own.

The findings suggest that babies are born with the basic mechanisms they need to build body awareness, Filippetti and her colleagues reported Thursday in the journal Current Biology.

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Image: Newborn baby, via Shutterstock

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