The Dangers Of Being A ‘Good’ Child
Children who are obedient and well-behaved are considered ‘good’. But this virtue can, beyond a certain point, be detrimental to your child's healthy development. Read on to find out how.
By Amrita Gracias
As parents, don’t we often dream of having a good, well-behaved child who always listens and does as he is told? Alas, this is one wish that almost never comes true! But when it does, as parents, will it mean that we have no reason to worry about our 'good' child? Well, surprisingly we do!
Let's read on to find out about why being a 'good' child can prove disadvantageous at certain times in life.
Who is a ‘good’ child?
Most parents will agree that a good child is one who does everything that’s expected of him and never troubles anyone. Here are a few common characteristics of a ‘good’ child:
- always obeys parents
- never complains
- adheres to discipline
- never disappoints parents
- never acts in a rebellious manner
- keeps emotions under control
Problems of the ‘good’ child
So, while you might encourage your child to change herself into a 'good' child, do be warned that there is a harsher reality to this. An overload of ‘virtues’ in a child make her vulnerable to the following:
- Being bullied: You feel proud that your child always does what she is told to, and never acts up or talks back. She doesn't assert herself as she is always praised and appreciated for her compliant nature. However, to others, your child may come across as someone who is submissive. This can make her an easy target of bullies. She may be coerced by friends or peers into doing things that she rather wouldn’t. In adolescence and adulthood, she can even be exploited in an abusive and controlling relationship, as her compliant and passive nature wouldn't allow her to take a firm stand.
- Feeling unhappy and unfulfilled: The 'good' child seems to feel happy when praised by his parents for his cooperative nature. Unfortunately, the child behaves in a 'good' manner to please his parents. This practice begins during childhood and the child is compelled to maintain the act as he grows older. Even during the preteen and early teenage years, when other children begin to assert their independence, the 'good' child remains passive for he fears displeasing his parents. Consequently, he may become resentful and disgruntled. These feelings can continue well into adulthood. His feeling of being in conflict with his parents, friends, colleagues can make it difficult for him to relate to those around him. And at times, a 'good' adolescent will be unable to resist the urge to assert himself. And, since he will be tired of trying to please his parents all the time, there is a possibility of him turning rebellious.
- Decrease in emotional resilience: Imagine how it would be if you had to suppress your feelings, even when upset. You would feel emotionally drained, which can affect your life both within and outside the home. A 'good' child may also feel the same way, if not worse. She may feel angry because she cannot be her natural self and express her true feelings. She also experiences a sense of sadness because she is helpless in these situations. When this state of sadness becomes overwhelming, it can even lead to depression, thus affecting her mental well-being.
- Feeling neglected: Parents don’t see the need to pay extra attention to a 'good' child. They believe that the child can take care of himself in any situation because he always does the right thing. But, such an attitude can make parents ignore their child's emotional needs. They may leave the child alone to deal with an array of emotions on his own, which he is often incapable of. In such a situation, unaddressed emotional needs can even manifest as physical ailments. Also, by adolescence, the child may begin to look for escape routes from the situation he is in, and take to alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism.
- Missing out on adolescent milestones and experiences: Often, at school, teachers encourage compliant behaviour from a child. As a result, the child misses out on essential experiences that spontaneous behaviour encourages. Also, after a period, other children begin resenting a good child as she is always praised for her perfect behaviour. She then feels lonely and rejected. She therefore misses out on significant adolescent milestones and experiences like friendship, leaving her even more unhappy, dissatisfied and bitter.
So, the next time your child acts up or talks back, remember that these challenging behaviours are essential too. These are the stepping stones to learning various interpersonal skills such as getting on well with others, being assertive, and being respectful even while disagreeing.
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