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 rarely 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 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 does everything that's expected of him and never troubles anyone. Here are a few common characteristics of a 'good' child:
Never breaks the rules
Always pleases people
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 makes 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 out of fear of displeasing his parents. But inwardly, he could be harboring resentment, anger, and frustration. This inner conflict could continue well into adulthood when he must relate to people in authority and adapt to social groups. And more often than not, 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 the possibility of him turning rebellious.
Feeling helpless: Imagine how it would be if you had to suppress your feelings, even when upset. You would feel emotionally drained. 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 may also experience sadness because she doesn't know how to help herself. Persistent feelings of sadness could lead to depression and other mental health problems.
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 makes parents ignore their child's emotional needs. Unaddressed emotional needs often manifest as physical ailments. And in adolescence, the child may begin to look for escape routes and take to alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism.
Missing out on adolescent milestones and experiences: Often, at school, teachers encourage compliant behavior from a child. As a result, the child misses out on essential experiences that arise from spontaneous interactions. Classmates are usually resentful of a 'good' child as she is always praised for her perfect behavior. This further isolates the 'good' child who begins to feel lonely and rejected. She, therefore, misses out on significant adolescent experiences like friendship and adventure.
So, the next time your child acts up or talks back, remember that these challenging behaviors are essential too. They are the stepping stones to acquiring interpersonal skills, assertive skills, and building confidence.