This has been a topic of conversation between my mommy friends and I for quite some time. Granted, there are some noticeable differences between “old-school” parenting methods and today’s practices. One question that always pops up is whether or not praising kids too much makes them spoiled to the point that they feel a sort of entitlement.
Researchers from two different universities are warning parents about “overvaluing” their children. One has to question whether or not these “experts” have children of their own, but for argument’s sake, we’ll roll with the information. Apparently too much praise can lead to narcissism, a pretty scary thought to imagine. “Children believe it when their parents tell them that they are more special than others,” points out Professor Bushman, co-author of the study and professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State. “That may not be good for them or for society.”
As a parent, I’m all about building up self-esteem and confidence, especially raising two Black sons. Life is full of mean-spirited people who are waiting in the wings to cut you down. Even though my boys are both under three-years-old, I celebrate when they listen or do things that go beyond their expected development milestones (like use baby sign language or says a word in Spanish). Certainly that won’t lead to child narcissism… at least I hope not.
On the other end of the spectrum, I can see where some parents can encourage entitlement behavior. I love my child and think he’s one of the cutest you will ever see. That doesn’t mean I don’t check bad behavior or treat him like he does no wrong. Some of my mommy friends have no issue with pointing out “problems” in your child, but will turn a blind eye to their own.
One in particular who treats her daughter like a princess who can teach Viola Davis a thing or two about How to Get Away with Murder is bound to run into trouble in the future. While she’s a smart cookie, her attitude and sense of entitlement are atrocious. Not only does she sass her parents (they simply write it off as “being a child”), she has had problems working with others in her class and extracurricular activities. Her team recently won a competition which is great in its own right. Too bad when you try to congratulate her, she hits you with a “I know,” or “Didn’t you think I would win?” She is seven-years-old.
When you think about it, how can our children expect to learn anything different when the millennial generation (that’s us) have been labeled the “participation trophy” generation? I won’t even touch on pee wee sports that redefine the concepts of competition and winning and losing (everyone takes home an award). Some don’t even keep score in efforts not to hurt anyone’s feelings.
Yes there are certain things younger children can’t understand or handle, but does that mean we skew their reality and how things work in the real world? Seriously, how do you think a professional will act in a team environment–or around the workplace in general–when they were constantly praised and made to feel better than everyone else?