Are we raising self-obsessed children?


I think that many of us parents are focussed on giving our kids the best that we can afford and making them confident and independent, teaching them to always seek the best for themselves… but how do we know that we’re not raising our kids to be so self-involved and narcissistic that they forget about other people’s feelings and lives and just carry on thinking that the world revolves around them well past toddlerhood?

I don’t profess to be a perfect parent; in fact the whole point of this piece is to express my fears of raising self-obsessed, disrespectful children. However, I do think that hubby and I try our best to teach our children the value of what they have and the importance of respect. Will that stop them from always focusing on number one when they reach adulthood? I don’t know.

We’re raising our children in a society so different from the one we grew up in. Millions of people are part of online communities and social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter that encourage self-promotion, aka showing off.  Taking selfies (photos of yourself) and posting them online are so popular that it was literally Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year in 2013!

Of course, one can argue that people have always been self-serving…even if they are discreet about it. Even though you won’t admit it, whenever you make a choice, one deciding factor is how it will benefit you or effect you. Does this make us bad or narcissistic? Maybe not so much, but I think that we are grooming our children, voluntarily or not, to live their lives based on what other people think of them and to prove to everyone else that they are better looking, smarter and more spectacular than anyone else.

I’m not a psychologist but I do think that I want confident children, but they should not be over-confident to the extent that they can’t accept criticism. I want them to handle failure with grace but I don’t want to raise them thinking that they are failures. And most importantly, I want them to love who they are without the need to prove their worth to anyone else or to feel the desire to change for other people.

This article was originally written for Jozikids by Sholain Govender- Bateman in 2014.

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Sholain Govender-Bateman

Sholain Govender-Bateman

Sholain Govender-Bateman – New Media journalism lecturer and editor who worked for newspapers & edited magazines. She is mum to two gorgeous girls, Isobel and Aishwari, wife to Barry Bateman. Visit her on Twitter @sholain

9 Responses

  1. Most importantly kid need to be mindful of the needs of others. The difference between this gen and those gone by.

  2. I like your article, in my point of view our children end up being spoiled brats, we give them what we can, some of us don't want our children grow as we did, we give them good education, love, fancy and expensive life. I believe we do that because, we want to give them a better live and future.

  3. What an insightful article!

    Building a child's sense of self-esteem is different from building their sense of worth. However, these two things are very interlinked.

    In today's online world, self-worth is based on superficial things such as how many friends one has on facebook, or how many people liked or commented on a post or picture. Not on who they are as a person, or what they can do, but based on how other people see them. How to teach them that other people's feelings are as important as theirs? Great question!

  4. I agree whole heartedly with your article. For us parents it can be a daunting task trying to guide our children to show respect not only for themselves but for others too. I run Teenage Workshops designed to teach teens the tools to cope with the constant changes in their lives. Self love is the key to a fulfilling life with themselves and others so teaching them ways to handle their emotions helps them accept responsibility for themselves. This in turn builds their confidence in a healthy way. My next workshop is on Saturday, 3 May in Houghton. Contact: 0828297091

  5. The issue is what of 3 characteristics of the child are we developing. 1. Self-Image, Ego-Esteem or Self-Esteem. Self-image refers to our thoughts about our outside appearance, what we think others see. This includes our looks, talents, popularity, or accomplishments. This is important, but can still feel we are no good inside.
    Ego-Esteem is where we rank ourselves as being better than someone else, often in an effort to elevate ourselves. Self-Esteem refers to our feelings about our inside qualities. This includes our worth as a human being, sense of purpose, and how lovable we think we are even when we feel insure about our looks or popularity. Therefore the most effective one of the three to build on is self-esteem. So what are the Tools we can use in our everyday life to build self-esteem. I teach 25 plus tools for building self-esteem. Some of them are – show unconditional love; – notice the child's special unique qualities; – ask the child's option; – describe how children's efforts help others;- avoid "constructive criticism" e.t.c. Next course starts 6 May 2014

  6. My immediate thought was of this trend where parents post every little thing their child does on Facebook as if its a huge achievement. Would it be socially acceptable to whip out a photo album and detail your child's achievements when guests come to visit ? Why then on social media ? Does this not lead to exactly what you say, where these children are being put on a pedestal, put on display, for the world to revolve around them ? I have nothing against posts of interest which are designed to inform you what is going on in your friends lives and what their children are up too but so many of these posts are pure bragging. What example are we setting ?

  7. In this techno savvy era the focus of parenting is no longer on imparting knowledge, which is freely available to our children from innumerable sites, but imparting values and a moral code by which to live their lives within the world. And the greatest impact of this will be felt by your children if you lead by example. Talk to them about what is good, and true and beautiful in the world and how they can carry this into their lives and into their interaction with others. It is only through interaction with others that you truly find yourself.

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