Have you ever heard something about “perfect child syndrome”?
Chances are high, you haven’t. That’s either because there’s no such medical term or because you’re that “perfect child” yourself.
“Perfect child syndrome” can be found everywhere in our society. “Perfect children” try hard to be good enough from the perspective of their parents. They always take care of their homework. They always help their parents. They always do what others expect.
Quite simply, they just don’t cause problems.
But don’t you think they deserve a chance to be a little bad sometimes? I do.
I believe we should try to avoid being the “good child” because everyone deserves to make mistakes and learn. Everyone deserves to be free. Let’s discuss possible problems of being a “good child” and take a look at the reasons why we should stay away from it.
10 reasons to avoid being the “good child”
1) No chance to learn from mistakes
Good children don’t make mistakes. They’re always on track. They do everything that’s expected from them. They are perfect.
Is making mistakes really that bad? Probably you’ve heard the phrase “learn from mistakes” somewhere. As cliché as it may sound, we actually need to make mistakes in order to focus on them, improve and avoid making the same mistake again in the future.
But if you never make mistakes, you can never improve them. Try to understand that errors are part of learning. That’s why we should fail first and learn then.
One more thing. Making small mistakes in our everyday lives helps us to avoid big failures. Does it mean “good children” are destined to fail?
No, failure isn’t destiny. But still, let yourself make mistakes to learn and improve.
2) Possible difficulties in the future
Doing tasks on time, helping others, putting in all the effort, and getting the results. That’s some of the things a perfect child typically does. Can we really say something negative about these behaviors?
Unfortunately, yes. At first glance, a good child may seem hands-free, but actually, constantly thinking about meeting standards that aren’t even set by yourself is pretty distressing.
Performing ideally right now may lead to problems in the future.
Why? Because we gradually become more and more critical of ourselves. Stress and anxiety grow deep inside us and one day, we realize we don’t know how to deal with these new problems. We can’t adapt to the new challenges of the world.
Think about it. Is it really worth spending so much effort on somebody else’s goals and at the expense of future difficulties?
3) Parents are less concerned about their problems
Every child wants to feel warmth and love from their parents. They don’t just want it, but they need it. But the parents of a perfect child believe that everything is well with their children. They can handle themselves.
They are good enough to deal with their own problems. There’s nothing to worry about.
But wait a second. A child is a child.
There’s no way a good girl or a good boy can overcome all the problems by themselves. And it’s not only about problems. They need someone to take care of them, make them feel they are loved. That’s something the famous psychologist Carl Rogers called unconditional love — affection without limitations.
Unfortunately, good children have to deal with their own lives completely alone. Nobody’s concerned about their problems or needs. But the truth is, no matter how good or bad you’re, every child needs someone who will make them feel like they’re worthy. And they certainly are!
4) They suppress their real emotions
When nobody is concerned about your problem, you have no way but to suppress your emotions. That’s exactly the case with good children.
“Stop crying”, “Put your tears away”, “Why are you angry?” These are some of the phrases perfect children try so hard to avoid.
A perfect child hides emotions for unfortunate reasons: when they feel happy, they think it’s normal and move on doing their next task to meet their parents’ requirements. But when they feel sad, they feel pressure to deal with these negative emotions and focus on things that matter.
But actually, their emotions are something that matters. They just don’t know about it yet.
Being aware of your own feelings is crucial for emotional well-being. Just try to release your emotions. It’s okay to be angry. It’s okay to feel sad. And it’s okay if you feel the urge to express your happiness. You don’t need to deal with your emotions. You need to express them!
5) They are afraid of taking risks
A “good child” never takes risks. They believe that everything they do should be done perfectly. As we said, they always try hard to avoid making mistakes. That’s why they are afraid of taking risks.
Why do we need to take risks?
Let me explain. If I’m a good girl, this means that I have no experience of other people seeing me as a “bad girl”. What if they tolerate my badness? What if this good side of me isn’t the real me and others accept my bad side?
Therefore, we need to take risks to see what happens. We need to take risks because risks give us the courage to face difficulties. Risks make our lives more interesting. And also, simply because risks and ambiguity are some of the reasons why our lives are worth living for.
6) Being good isn’t their choice
Perfect children don’t have any other choice but to be perfect. They don’t even have a chance to be not good enough or bad. Being perfect is the only option for them.
What does it mean to have no choice? It means they’re not free. But I believe freedom is the most valuable thing in our lives. Freedom is the key to happiness. And everyone needs to be happy. Perfect children are no exception.
You need to be free in order to explore yourself. In order to discover your inner self and realize not only the things you can do but also those, you can’t do. That’s how we grow. That’s how we develop and discover ourselves.
And therefore, this is another great reason why you should avoid being a good child.
7) Meeting others’ expectations reduces their self-esteem
Good children feel desperate to meet others’ expectations. If it’s something you constantly do, take a moment and think about it. Is there any reason why you must comply with something you’re asked to do? Or is there anything you must do at all?
Personally, I don’t think so. Meeting somebody’s expectations isn’t necessary to feel that you’re worthy of their love or affection. But that’s what good children believe. They might not even realize it, but deep down they think they won’t be good enough for someone’s love if they disappoint them.
Too much pressure on children makes children feel like they can’t live up to them. As a result, they feel like failures, and this, in turn, badly affects their self-esteem.
Just try to realize the fact that the only expectations you should try to fulfill are of yourself. But even in this case, you’re not obliged to do something you don’t want to. You’re free.
8) They are less confident about being themselves
Self-confidence is no less important for well-being than self-esteem. And a perfect child syndrome has a bad influence on self-confidence as well.
What does being confident about being yourself mean at all?
It means that you trust yourself. You know your strengths and weaknesses. You have realistic expectations and goals. But none of them apply to someone with a perfect child syndrome. Instead, they constantly criticize themselves because they don’t like their current selves.
They don’t feel they’re accepted. But they want to be accepted and that’s why they try so hard to be a good child. Unfortunately, in the process of getting the role of a good child, they lose their real selves.
On the contrary, when a child feels he or she is accepted for being themselves, they feel better about themselves. Most importantly, they start to accept themselves as they are.
9) Higher expectations lead to lower standards
It might sound a bit strange, but in this case, it’s true. How?
Perfect children try to meet their parents’ high expectations. The higher their expectations, the lower the chances that a good child will try to achieve something else. All they try to do is to fulfill already existing expectations. But what about growth? Don’t they need to develop?
They do. But instead, they follow others’ rules and they try to avoid trouble. That’s it. No worries about growth and development.
That’s how higher expectations lead a good child to lower standards. And if it’s something familiar to you, then you need to stop doing everything others expect from you.
10) Perfectionism is bad for your well-being
And finally, a perfect child syndrome leads to perfectionism. Yes, everyone adores this one word, but perfectionism isn’t good. Perfectionism is dangerous for our well-being.
Perfectionists feel pressure to do the best they can. As a result, they use all their effort, spend too much time and waste too much energy to get the desired result. But is this result really worth it? Do we need to be the best in everything?
We should indeed try to be the best versions of ourselves, but we shouldn’t try to be perfect. Nobody’s perfect, however cliché it may sound.
What to do when you realize you’re a perfect child
If you realize that you’re a “perfect child”, try to let go of your imaginary obligations and others’ expectations and let yourself discover your real dreams and goals.
Keep in mind that things that make you happy won’t necessarily please others, but that’s okay. You don’t need to play by society’s rules and be nice. You don’t need to be a perfect child. You don’t need to meet your parents’ or anyones’ expectations.
All you need to be is yourself.