In this post you’ll find out what is golden child syndrome, its characteristics and how to overcome it.
What Is Golden Child Syndrome?
Golden Child Syndrome is a term used to describe a phenomenon where one child within a family is favored over the others by parents or caregivers.
The favored child is often referred to as the “golden child” and is given preference in terms of attention, praise, and material possessions.
This can lead to feelings of neglect, resentment, and low self-esteem among the other children in the family who feel overshadowed and undervalued.
Over time, this can create long-term emotional consequences for the children involved, even into adulthood.
Characteristics of a Golden Child
Golden children may be:
1. High achievers: They often excel in academics, sports or other extracurricular activities.
2. Highly responsible: They are often given more responsibilities than other siblings and are expected to be role models for their siblings.
3. People pleasers: They may seek more attention from their parents since they feel that they are the favorite child.
4. Perfectionists: They often have high expectations of themselves and may become perfectionists in their pursuits.
It is important to note that being a Golden Child can also have some negative effects such as feelings of inadequacy, pressure to maintain performance levels, and difficulty forming close relationships due to the focus on achievement.
Factors That Contribute To The Development of Golden Child Syndrome
Here are some factors that can contribute to the development of Golden Child Syndrome:
1. Family dynamics – If a family has a history of favoring one child over others, it can lead to the development of Golden Child Syndrome.
2. Parental expectations – Parents may have set certain expectations for their children, and when one child exceeds these expectations, they may become the favorite child.
3. Birth order – Birth order can also contribute to the development of Golden Child Syndrome. The first-born child may be seen as the “chosen one” who receives special treatment and attention.
4. Success and achievements – If one child is particularly successful academically or athletically, parents may focus more on this child and provide them with additional resources and attention.
5. Personality traits – Some children may have personality traits that make them more likable and easier to get along with, leading parents to favor them over others.
It’s important for parents and caregivers to treat all children equally and avoid creating a situation where one child feels less valued than others.
Effects of Golden Child Syndrome
1. Effects on The Golden Child
Golden Child Syndrome can have both positive and negative effects on the child who is labeled as the “golden child.”
Some possible effects include:
1. High expectations: The golden child may feel pressure to live up to the high standards set by their family. This can result in feelings of stress and anxiety, as well as a fear of letting others down.
2. Low self-esteem: Despite being praised and favored, the golden child may struggle with feelings of inadequacy or self-doubt. This is because their self-worth is tied to their achievements and not their inherent value as a person.
3. Limited autonomy: The golden child may feel like they have to follow a specific path in life that has been predetermined for them by their parents. This can lead to a lack of independence and decision-making skills.
4. Difficulty with criticism: Due to being consistently praised and favored, the golden child may struggle with receiving constructive criticism. They may take it as a personal attack and feel defensive or resentful.
5. Strained relationships with siblings: Golden Child Syndrome can create tension and jealousy between siblings, especially if the golden child is seen as receiving more attention or resources.
2. Effects On Other Siblings
This differential treatment can have numerous effects on other siblings, including:
1. Feeling neglected: Siblings who are not the golden child may feel they are not receiving enough attention from their parents or guardian, which can lead to feelings of neglect and abandonment.
2. Low self-esteem: If a sibling constantly feels compared to their golden child sibling, it can lead to low self-esteem and impede their ability to develop a strong sense of self-worth.
3. Resentment: Other siblings may become resentful of the favored child and harbor negative feelings towards them. This can lead to rivalry and jealousy between siblings.
4. Emotional distance: The differential treatment can cause emotional distance between siblings as they struggle to come to terms with the unequal treatment. This can make it challenging for them to communicate and form healthy relationships.
How to Overcome Golden Child Syndrome?
Overcoming this syndrome can be challenging, but the following steps may be helpful:
#1. Acknowledge the Issue
The first step in overcoming Golden Child syndrome is to acknowledge that it exists and recognize its impact on your life and relationships.
It’s important to understand that being a Golden Child is not your fault, but it can negatively affect your relationships and personal growth.
Take some time to reflect on how you feel about your role as the golden child and its impact on your relationships and personal growth. Try to be honest with yourself about the challenges you face because of it.
Remember that acknowledging the issue is the first step towards making positive changes in your life and relationships.
#2. Have An Open And Honest Conversation
Talk with your parents or family members about how you feel and how the situation is impacting your relationships with them and your siblings.
Try to have an open and honest conversation without blaming anyone.
1. Identify the key issues: Make a list of the issues you want to discuss with the other person. This will help you stay focused during the conversation so that you can address the most important topics.
2. Choose an appropriate time and place: Choose a time and place where both you and the other person can have an undisturbed and uninterrupted conversation. This could be somewhere private or a neutral location.
3. Use “I” statements: When talking about your experiences, use “I” statements to express your feelings and thoughts. This can help avoid blame and keep the conversation constructive.
4. Listen actively: Listen carefully to what the other person has to say and try to understand their perspective. Be open to feedback and suggestions.
#3. Establish Boundaries
Overcoming Golden Child Syndrome can be a challenging and complex process, but establishing boundaries can be an essential step.
Here are some tips to help you establish healthy boundaries:
1. Identify your needs and values: Clarify your personal values and what is important to you. This includes your emotional, physical, and mental health.
2. Communicate assertively: Speak up for yourself and calmly and confidently communicate your boundaries. Use “I” statements to express your feelings, such as “I feel uncomfortable when…” or “I need…”
3. Set limits: Determine what behaviors or actions you will or will not tolerate, and communicate this clearly. For example, if someone consistently disregards your feelings, set a limit on how much time you spend with them.
4. Be consistent: Follow through with your boundaries, even if it is uncomfortable or difficult. Consistency reinforces your boundaries and shows others that you mean what you say.
Remember that establishing boundaries takes time and practice, so be patient with yourself.
#4. Practice Self-Care
As a former golden child, you may have internalized the idea that your worth and value come from success, achievements, and the approval of others.
Therefore, it’s crucial to prioritize your own well-being and engage in activities that make you happy and fulfilled.
Here are some self-care practices that can help:
1. Take breaks: Allow yourself to take breaks from work or responsibilities to rest and rejuvenate. Taking time for yourself can help reduce stress and increase productivity.
2. Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness can help you stay present, reduce anxiety, and improve your overall well-being. Try meditation, deep breathing, or yoga.
3. Develop hobbies: Engage in activities outside of work or school that bring you joy and relaxation. This could be painting, playing music, cooking, or spending time in nature.
Remember, prioritizing your own needs and well-being is not selfish; it’s necessary for a healthy and fulfilling life.
#5. Engage In Self-Exploration
Engaging in self-exploration is a crucial step in overcoming the golden child syndrome.
Start by reflecting on your childhood experiences and examining the ways in which you were treated differently from your siblings.
Ask yourself questions like, “How did being the golden child impact my sense of self?” or “What about my siblings who were not favored by my parents?”
You can also try journaling to further explore your authentic self.
The following journaling prompts can be helpful:
- What are the things that make me happy in life? Why do they make me feel this way?
- What are some of my biggest fears and why are they scary to me?
- What are some of my limiting beliefs that are holding me back? How can I challenge those beliefs?
- What are some of the things I want to achieve in my life? What steps can I take to get there?
- What are some of the lessons I have learned from my past experiences? How can I use them to grow and improve myself?
- What are some of the things that I am grateful for in my life? How can I continue to practice gratitude on a daily basis?
- What are some of the things that I struggle with in my life? How can I overcome those challenges?
- What are some of the things that make me unique and different from others? Why is it important to embrace my uniqueness?
- What are some of the things I need to let go of in order to move forward in my life? How can I do that?
- What are some of the ways I can show more kindness and compassion to myself and others?
As you engage in self-exploration, it’s important to approach this process with compassion and curiosity.
Uncovering painful memories or challenging your beliefs can be difficult, but ultimately it can lead to healing and growth.
#6. Let Go of Self-Blame And Shame
You likely didn’t choose to become the golden child, and it wasn’t your fault that your parents treated you differently than your siblings.
It’s essential to recognize that your parents’ behavior was not a reflection of your worth or value as a person.
Your worth is inherent, and you deserve love and support simply because you exist. The way your parents treated you doesn’t define who you are.
To let go of self-blame and shame, it’s helpful to talk to a therapist or trusted friend about your experiences. This can help you process your emotions and gain perspective on your situation.
It’s also important to practice self-compassion and treat yourself with kindness and understanding.
Remember that you’re doing the best you can to overcome this difficult experience, and it’s okay to make mistakes along the way.
Related: Toxic Shame Quiz
#7. Seek Support
If you are struggling with Golden Child Syndrome, seeking support can be a powerful step in overcoming the negative effects of this dynamic.
Here are some ways to seek support:
1. Therapy: A trained therapist can help you work through the emotions and patterns that have developed as a result of Golden Child Syndrome. They can also provide you with tools and strategies to manage your relationship with your family.
2. Support Groups: Joining a support group can help you connect with others who understand what you are going through. This can provide a sense of validation and support that can be invaluable in your healing journey.
3. Trusted Friends or Family Members: Talk to trusted friends or family members who understand your situation and offer support and encouragement. Having a supportive network around you can be incredibly helpful as you work through your feelings.
Remember, seeking support is a sign of strength, not weakness. It takes courage to acknowledge that you need help and to reach out for it.
Golden Child Syndrome refers to a phenomenon in which one child in a family is favored or treated significantly better than their siblings.
This can manifest in various ways such as receiving more attention, affection, privileges, and praise.
The syndrome can have negative consequences on both the favored child and their siblings, as it can create feelings of resentment, jealousy, and inferiority among the other children.
Recovery from Golden Child Syndrome is a process that takes time and effort.
Be patient with yourself and know that progress will come with time.
Hadiah is a counselor who is passionate about supporting individuals on their journey towards mental well-being. Hadiah not only writes insightful articles on various mental health topics but also creates engaging and practical mental health worksheets.