“Overvaluing parents tended to claim that their child had knowledge of many different topics—even these nonexistent ones,” Brummelman said.

While parental “overvaluing” was associated with narcissistic offspring, parental warmth was not. Children of parents who expressed warmth by telling their children they loved them, but who did not engage in “overvaluing” behavior, were more likely to agree with statements that suggested they were “happy with themselves as a person and liked the kind of person they were.” In short, parental warmth appears to be closely linked to self-confident kids, not narcissistic kids. The researchers conclude that expressing warmth is key to promoting healthy self-confidence in children.

Bushman, who is a father of three children, said his research has made him rethink his own parenting style.

“When I first started doing this research in the 1990s, I used to think my children should be treated like they were extra-special. I’m careful not to do that now,” he said.

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