Study: Children Overvalued by Parents Become Narcissists

May 23, 2015

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. narcissism / ˈnɑːrsəˌsɪzəm / (n.) – a trait characterized by too much love or admiration for oneself
Example: The child’s narcissism makes him overconfident.

2.  undervalue / ˈʌndərˌvæljuː/ (v.) – to give low value or importance to something or someone
Example: The junior employee left because the boss undervalued his abilities.

3. self-esteem / self ɪˈstiːm / (n.) – respect for oneself
Example: Our campaign aims to promote self-esteem among children.

4. on point / ɒn pɔɪnt / (adj.) – referring to something accurate or appropriate
Example: His arguments are on point.

5. stem from / stɛm frʌm, frɒm / (v. phrase) – to result from or be caused by something
Example: My anxiety stems from my bad experiences during childhood.


Read the text below.
According to recent research, children who are overvalued by their parents may become narcissists.

The researchers looked into the causes of narcissism by comparing two competing theories about it. One is the social learning theory, which states that narcissism among children results from receiving too much value and importance from their parents.

The other theory is the psychoanalytic theory. Unlike the social learning theory, this theory suggests that children become narcissistic when parents undervalue or refuse to give them warmth. Thus, children tend to seek approval from other people.

To test these theories, researchers from the Ohio State University looked into 565 Dutch children aged seven to eleven years old for about a year and a half. With the help of their parents, the children answered questions related to narcissism and self-esteem. Parents also answered questions about how they valued their children.

The researchers found that the social learning theory might be more on point than the psychoanalytic theory. This is because the survey results showed that children who were overvalued by their parents became more narcissistic.

Eddie Brummelman, lead author of the study, stated that narcissism should not be mistaken with high self-esteem. Narcissistic people feel that they are better than others. According to Lisa Firestone of Psychology Today, this trait stems from a person’s fear of failure and insecurity, and from too much focus on himself or herself.

However, children with high self-esteem are satisfied with their selves and think they are just as good as other people. This quality results from a person’s sense of accomplishment, values, and his or her care for other people, Firestone added.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you think parents should be held responsible for their children’s narcissism? Why or why not?
·         If you were a parent, how would you prevent your child from becoming narcissistic?

Discussion B

·         What can be the other reasons why a person becomes narcissistic?
·         What can be the advantages of being narcissistic?

May 23, 2015