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Drs Jean Twenge and Keith Campbell have produced a book called “The Narcissistic Epidemic – Living in the Age of Entitlement” in which they suggest that narcissism—an inflated view of the self – is increasing in our society.
They base their evidence on the increasing move to become special or to stand out in society rather than to fit in. e.g. tee-shirts that say “Princess” or “Its all about me”, kinder songs such as “I am special, I am special, look at me, look at me…”, the increase in cosmetic surgery and the choice by parents of names that are unusual or unique.
Their research gives evidence that self esteem does not equal success but rather the keys to success are self-advocacy, self-control, perspective taking (considering the thoughts of others) and a stable and loving family.
They suggest that instead of saying to your child, “You are special”, parents should say, “I love you”. Your child IS special to you but is no more special than any other child in the big world.
Instead of telling a child, “You can achieve whatever you want” (quite unrealistic), you should say, “If you try hard you can do it” and teach your child that success comes from hard work, having a healthy perspective and self-control.
They suggest that praise is out of control in our schools and homes, as evidenced by the growing trend to give every child a ribbon for participation and reducing competition. This is not real life and only sets children up for failure in later years.
Public figures have said that narcissism is what makes them stray from their spouses.
Praise fosters dependence on the opinions of others but encouragement fosters independence, initiative and motivation.