Do you think your kids are more special than other children and deserve something extra in life? Beware as you may be turning out little narcissists.
Children whose parents think they are God's gift to the world do tend to outshine their peers - in narcissism.
"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," said study co-author and professor Brad Bushman of the Ohio State University in the US.
Results showed that parents who "overvalued" their children when the study began ended up with children who scored higher on tests of narcissism later on.
"Parents with the best of intentions may overvalue their children, thinking that will help boost their self-esteem," said study lead author Eddie Brummelman of the University of Amsterdam in Holland.
"Rather than raising self-esteem, 'overvaluing' practices may inadvertently raise levels of narcissism," Brummelman added.
The study involved 565 children who were 7 to 11 years old when the study began, and their parents in the Netherlands.
Self-esteem and narcissism also develop in different ways, the study found.
"People with high self-esteem think they're as good as others, whereas narcissists think they're better than others," Bushman said.
While parental "overvaluation" was associated with higher levels of child narcissism over time, it was not associated with more self-esteem.
In contrast, parents who showed more emotional warmth had children with higher self-esteem over time.
"'Overvaluation' predicted narcissism, not self-esteem, whereas warmth predicted self-esteem, not narcissism," Bushman added.
The study appeared online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.