17 March 2009

Are we producing narcissistic kids?

I am interested in children learning in different ways at different ages and yesterday came across an article in the Daily Mail.
 A prominent psychologist Dr Carol Craig, speaking at a conference for head teachers said that adults are now too afraid to correct children’s mistakes in case it upset them – a "dire consequence of the constant drive to build self esteem", part of the government’s wellbeing agenda. She believes that this can turn into a blame mentality, children believing that someone else must be wrong, rather than them. Wrapping children up in cotton wool could be turning them into narcissists – a personality “type” that end up with relationship and interpersonal problems – and we are wrong to limit criticism in the learning process. Surely learning from mistakes is a natural part of progress?

In Holland, Dr Eveline Crone and colleagues have discovered areas in the cerebral part of the brain that respond differently to positive and negative feedback. In 8 and 9 year olds, it appears that the brain reacts strongly to praise and positive feedback and scarcely at all to negative feedback. But in children of 12 and 13 and in adults, the opposite is the case, so these age groups have different learning strategies. This does back up the wellbeing agenda – that children respond better to reward than punishment, but only for the younger years. This must provide some food for thought for parents and teachers?

Click here to view the Daily Mail article.

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