A developing child has to deal with some degree of pressure. But pressure is somewhat expected, and it can even be beneficial. For example, if you are a little stressed before an interview, that means you’ll prepare so you can do well. But this is not the case when it comes to golden child syndrome. It’s not just about being a little pressured.
And even though it sounds like a syndrome that causes people to be stuck-up and entitled, that’s not necessarily the case. Instead, most people with this syndrome are pretty closed-off and may even struggle with low self-esteem. This is because the golden child syndrome refers to the pressure parents put on their kids to become the best. Not to become the best version of themselves but to achieve that coveted golden child status.
Now, most parents mean well and are genuinely trying to help their kids. But internally, they want to prove they can be good parents by creating this seemingly perfect child. Often, in a family with more than one kid, that will even mean that the siblings are neglected. This is done so that the parents can focus on the golden child.
It’s pretty clear how this approach will eventually lead to a broken family. Even if the golden child might gain skills through this approach, it’s not worth the emotional turmoil they would’ve had to live through. After all, a parent’s job is to ensure their kids can be happy, not just successful. And the world is complicated enough without the parents putting this extra pressure on the child. So, what are the causes of golden child syndrome, and what can we do to fix it?
3 Causes of Golden Child Syndrome
1. You Were Deemed to Be Exceptional as a Child
The parents aren’t always the ones who deem a child exceptional. Sometimes, this is the fault of teachers or other authority figures in the child’s life. These people usually mean well, but the actions that follow this statement aren’t always desirable. Most of the time, the parents get too excited about their kid’s newfound potential.
The thing is, many kids might seem exceptional at a young age. And everyone has talents that shouldn’t be ignored. But that doesn’t mean that all kids will grow up to discover something that will change the course of humanity. And there’s nothing wrong with just being ordinary. Everyone can do well in their chosen field or follow their dreams without having to be the best of the best.
But that’s not how parents think when someone tells them their child is extraordinary. On the contrary, it will make parents feel they have a point to prove. If their child doesn’t reach the highest level possible, that will reflect poorly on them as parents. It can be even worse if the parents are the ones to come up with the idea that their child is exceptional. That’s because they will often feel like their mission in life is to shape that kid into something extraordinary.
2. You Were Always Expected to Be Perfect
Besides having abusive parents, there’s virtually nothing worse for a child than having parents who always pressure them to be perfect. People are inherently flawed and will make mistakes, especially kids. And these mistakes often end up being one of the best things to happen to someone because they help people grow.
If everything were easy, people wouldn’t be incentivized to improve. But this incentive always has to come from the inside. Of course, that doesn’t mean that parents should never help their kids and just let them make mistake after mistake. But there’s a big difference between supporting someone and pressuring them to be perfect.
An intense amount of pressure almost always causes golden child syndrome. When a kid feels like they have to be perfect, they will probably start working harder to achieve some goals. But that will come at a very big cost: their mental health. As a result, these kids are very likely to fall into depression. And even if that’s not the case, they will be deeply unhappy.
Plus, they will learn that the only way to achieve happiness is by making others happy. When they do well, their parents will be happy and proud of them. But when they don’t, they will have to face some consequences. This is a very dangerous narrative to instill into a kid’s mind at a young age. And these kids will likely grow up to be people-pleasers.
3. You Were Forced to Do What Your Parents Wanted
A common cause of golden child syndrome is when kids are forced to do whatever their parents want. And as a result, they are forced to stop doing what they desire. This means that they have to ignore their passions and inclinations. Many golden kids might be great artists or good at something more non-conventional. But that will never be something their parents will accept.
They will likely have to learn sciences and even languages. Some might even be encouraged to do more artistic things, like painting or dancing. But, even then, it will not be because the kids want to do that. They will do it to please their parents. There’s also a lot of guilt associated with golden child syndrome. And it’s one of the main reasons why these kids are subservient.
Because their parents tend to guilt-trip them and constantly remind them how much they invested. No kid would want to quit doing something if they knew their parents gave everything they had to support them. But because your parents might have invested all their savings in your education, it doesn’t mean you owe them anything.
Though, explaining that to a kid is more complicated than it seems. And most kids feel like they have to prove they are worth those investments. So, if they fail, they feel like they’ve let their parents down. They will feel guilt and shame, and their parents’ words and actions will probably exacerbate those feelings. They will likely even be chastised in front of the whole family or otherwise made to feel inadequate.
How to Fix Golden Child Syndrome
1. Acknowledge You Have It
Many kids with golden child syndrome develop into perfectionist adults who beat themselves up over every little mistake. And it can be hard to accept that you are allowed to be flawed. The first step towards healing is to take some time from introspection. Look into your past and try to pick up on any signs that your parents might have had a toxic parenting style.
Most kids who have tried all their life to please their parents will be too afraid to say anything negative about them. But neither you nor your parents are perfect. And there’s nothing wrong with accepting that how you were raised affects you as an adult. The first step towards healing is to accept that you are still holding on to a lot of guilt and you are a people-pleaser.
If you don’t identify the signs, you will never be able to let go of all the stress on your shoulders. Understand that feeling a crippling need to be perfect is not the same as doing things well. There’s a difference between shaking at the thought of making one little mistake and being meticulous. And, if you feel the former, you are dealing with something much worse than a bit of perfectionism. The sooner you acknowledge that you have golden child syndrome, the better.
2. Set Boundaries
As a golden child, setting boundaries and learning to say no is vital. Unfortunately, one of the effects of being raised as a golden child is that you’ll want to please everyone. And this need will follow you into adulthood. But this is not healthy, and you’ll soon find that people will take advantage of you any chance they have. If you are a people-pleaser, others will get used to asking for your help without much regard for your well-being.
They will even ask you to help when they know how to do their job but don’t want to. This is why it’s essential to learn how to set strict boundaries. Learn how to say no and make sure that you always have time for yourself. And, probably even more important is to set boundaries with your parents. Don’t let them micromanage everything you do. Sometimes, it even helps to limit contact with them.
3. Get Professional Help
The best way to manage the effects of golden child syndrome is to see a therapist or psychologist. The range of emotions associated with this syndrome is extensive, and they can help you manage them all. They can also help you understand that you don’t need to be perfect and are allowed to make mistakes.
And they’re someone you can talk to without worrying about being judged. Talking to someone does more than you could ever imagine. And it will help you let go of the insane pressure you feel and move on to a better life.
Final Thoughts on Causes of Golden Child Syndrome and How to Fix It
Golden child syndrome is way too common, and its effects can be seen even through adulthood. Contrary to popular belief, being raised as a golden child doesn’t make you a narcissist. It may have that effect on some people, but most of them end up being people-pleasers. Being a golden child comes with tons and tons of pressure and expectations.
These kids are expected to be perfect and excel in everything they do. And they don’t even have a say in whether they want to do an activity. They do it because it’s expected of them. If you have the golden child syndrome, you probably live with a crippling fear of failure. But there are ways to heal. You need to acknowledge that you are struggling and learn to care for yourself. Set boundaries and get professional help to manage all your emotions and struggles.