News ID: 153623
Published: 0308 GMT June 21, 2016

Selfie generation: How to avoid raising a narcissistic child

Selfie generation: How to avoid raising a narcissistic child

Between getting a trophy just for participation, posting selfies on social media, and millennials who think they deserve high-level, lucrative positions right after college, the current generation has gotten a bad rep as self-centered, entitled and narcissistic.

Starting in the toddler years, self-centeredness is completely normal and part of development, wrote.

Although it’s true that children and young adults are more self-centered that older adults, experts say from baby boomers to Generation Z, it’s not a new phenomenon.

 “I have never seen convincing research that kids today are more self-centered,” said Dr. Laura Markham, a clinical psychologist in New York City and author of “Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting.”

Jean M. Twenge, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at San Diego State University, however, has conducted several studies that indicate narcissism among college students is on the rise.

Yet Markham said the questionnaire that Twenge used, the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI), isn’t a good measure because it includes questions about self-confidence, not to mention that other researchers couldn’t replicate her claims.

 “The research shows the opposite. The research shows kids volunteer more [and] it shows kids are more confident but not more entitled,” Markham said.


Strong self-esteem or inflated ego?

Every parent wants their child to have a strong sense of self and research shows kids today have stronger self-esteem than previous generations. In fact, 80 percent of middle school students scored higher in self-esteem in 2006 than students in 1988, according to a study in the Review of General Psychology.

Another study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found that by age five, kids have developed self-esteem comparable to those of adults.

Although self-esteem is always a good thing, some experts say many parents are raising children who are self-centered and entitled. And that superiority, ironically, is rooted in poor self-esteem.

One of the problems is helicopter parenting.

 “We give them so much of our love and attention that they start to realize unconsciously, ‘I can’t function without mom or dad,’” said Dr. Gary Brown, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Los Angeles.

Brown frequently sees this happening among affluent parents or those who want to give their children a better life than they had themselves.

 “That creates a certain anxiety in those children but it also fuels a false sense of importance,” he said.

 “Somebody who is always coming across as arrogant, or self-centered, or not caring about others, is somebody who was missed, somebody who wasn’t seen, somebody who wasn’t recognized,” said Dr. Brad Reedy, the co-owner and clinical director of Evoke Therapy Programs in Santa Clara, Utah and author of, “The Journey of the Heroic Parent.”

Reedy said kids who grow up feeling this way do so because their parents can’t set limits in their own lives.

These parents might be the ones who overscheduled their kids and spend afternoons and weekends shuttling them to countless sports and after-school activities.

The problem is that they do it because they feel guilty, have a strong desire to be the perfect parent, or because they want their kids to be successful because they falsely believe it’s a reflection on them, Reedy said.

As a result, children are never required to recognize other people and they see themselves as the center of the universe.

 “You’re not really parenting the child, you’re parenting your own wounded child,” he said.

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