What Is Golden Child Syndrome?

What Is Golden Child Syndrome? what is golden child syndrome?

Our childhood upbringing has the greatest impact on some of our behaviors and actions in the present life. The words, actions and behaviors of our parents or the adults around us play a huge role in shaping us to be who we currently are. In childhood, we often yearn for their validation and support.

The moment they’re not giving us that in a healthy manner or we feel that we have to do something so that we can get their attention is when things start going south. When they don’t provide that conducive experiment, you will find another way to earn their validation and attention. If it’s a family dynamic where you feel that you have to do something extraordinary say like make no mistakes, get very good grades or do your chores to perfection, then you’ll just do that so that you can meet their expectations. That’s how one picks up the role of the ‘golden child’.

Who is a Golden Child?

The term “golden child” or “golden child syndrome” refers to a child in a family who is perceived to be favored or highly valued by their parents or other family members. To the parents, the golden child is expected to be good at almost everything even those things which are not their natural talents. The child may be granted special treatment, excessively praised, and may receive privileges that other siblings do not.

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Your parent’s pride and happiness depend on how you thrive and succeed in life. They adore you so much and even use you as an example to your other siblings. The more you’re used as a baseline for performance and success in the family, the more you pressure yourself to perform or succeed even more. To be a golden child, is to have no downtime but to just grind and grind because you don’t want to make everyone upset. You feel that your greatest motivation for success in life is your parents and you feel that you’ve got to work harder and harder to satisfy them. You’re the ‘chosen one’ and you have to be perfect at all times.

Most parents will of course do this uncosciously thinking that they’re doing it for you without realizing that it’s putting you in so much pressure. Your parents may see you as this asset and you’re going to bring fame, fortune, pride and success to the family. In a dysfunctional family dynamic, your other siblings will be resentful towards you because of how you’re being given special treatment. In short, you adopt this role of the golden child when your parents push you too far and leave no room for you to make mistakes or when your parents exploit you as their source of reputation.

This concept is linked to unhealthy or narcissistic family dynamics and can have both advantageous and disadvantageous impacts on the child’s growth and relationships with others. When you are groomed to be the golden child, you will developing beliefs that for you to be accepted in life, you have to leave no room for mistakes or you will feel so entitled at the expense of anyone else. You’re conditioned to feel entitled, to be a perfectionist, to be a super high achiever or to be so afraid of failure.

What Happens When Golden Children Become Adults?

The effects of being brought up as a golden child will have unhealthy effects in your adult life. Those beliefs you developed in your childhood will play a huge role in most of your decisions and behaviors in your adult life. It will affect the quality of your relationships as well your self-esteem and self-worth.

Firstly, a golden child will struggle with self-esteem issues in their adult life. When you’re conditioned to attach your value or worth to externalities like success, fame or any other outer circumstance in life you just develop this emptiness on the inside. You will constantly be on the lookout for something on the outer world to fill that deep inadequacy.

Your foundation is that of deep insecurity and attaching worth to how much you can achieve. It’s just a loop of looking for one thing after the other because you’ve been conditioned to think that if you lack the success and the achievement, you’re unworthy. You just feel you’ll never be good enough however much you try. Your worth is attached to high achievements and seeking outer validation instead of just being true to yourself.

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Secondly, you may tend to be a perfectionist and you leave no room for failure in your life. You were groomed to always seek perfection in whatever endeavor you pursue in life. Without perfection or when you make a mistake, you feel like you’re letting yourself or your loved ones down.

You end up blaming yourself or criticizing yourself when something undesirable happens in your life or when you don’t achieve your targets (like when your marriage doesn’t work). For you it’s all about “I should have done better” instead of looking at what you’ve achieved already. You set unrealistic expectations to yourself and you feel so frustrated when you end up not fully achieving them.

Also, you may procrastinate on starting that business venture or that new idea because you’re so afraid of failure. You may find yourself stuck in the planning phase for years because you want to ‘get it right’ or you want it to be ‘perfect.’ Instead of making progress, you’re stuck in perfection without progress because you were just brought up to associate failure with ‘bad behavior.’

Lastly, being a golden child may lead to development of some narcissistic traits like extreme feeling of entitlement. You were always overvalued, overpraised and put on a pedestal by your parents when you were a kid. So, you might develop this deep belief that you’re entitled to something even at the expense of someone else’s mental wellbeing.

Your parents may have of course showed less empathy (or no empathy) to some of your siblings in favor of you. You may have been treated very differently than the rest which bred a deep feeling of entitlement without empathy. When you internalize these messages of being ‘special’ and ‘exceptional’, you might see those around you as lesser humans or a means to an end.

How Do You Overcome the Golden Child Syndrome?

Like everything else, the first thing to do is to just to be aware of your current undesirable behaviors or the pain you’re experiencing in the present life. Awareness here doesn’t means just being aware, it means taking the steps to transform yourself by going inwards. Those patterns (like fear of failure or entitlement) that are causing discomfort in your life are just symptoms of deeply-rooted subconscious beliefs you developed because of your upbringing.

Those negative beliefs are what feed you with thoughts in the lines of “For you to be accepted or validated, you have to be perfect or just leave zero room for failure” or “You’re ‘special’ or ‘exceptional’ and you need to walk over others or manipulate them to get what you whatever you desire.”

Those thoughts are what drive your present actions and circumstances even when you want to stop yourself. Being a golden child is not a ‘fixed identity’ or something you have to live with forever, it’s just a learned behavior and you can heal by just unlearning it.

Once you work on dissolving those subconscious beliefs, you’ll understand that you can still achieve those things you want in life without pressuring yourself or without manipulating others because you are worthy and there’s no point to prove. It’s more of getting to the point where you deeply understand your worth is not attached to achievements or pleasing your community, parents or friends.


Note from the Author

If you’re ready and you’d like my help with healing, finding peace in life and breaking free from these toxic patterns, then you can book a FREE BREAKTHROUGH CALL with me HERE. Happy healing 💙💙. Feel free to share and comment! Use this information with caution, it comes from my own thoughts & bias, experiences and research😊.

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Edwin Bii
Edwin Bii

I'm Edwin Bii, a trained advanced conversational hypnotherapist (ACH) and Mind Shifting Coach from Kenya offering mental health support, and life coaching to help you crush your goalsand overcome your problems. Together, we'll navigate challenges, build self-awareness, and create a happier, healthier you. Let's unlock your potential.

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