12 Ways To Overcome The Good Child Syndrome (2024)

This is your ultimate guide for overcoming Good Child Syndrome.

Below, you’ll learn what Good Child Syndrome is, how it ruins the lives of those who have it and what you can do to cure yourself. 

In my several years working as a certified life coach, I have helped many clients understand and overcome this problem.   

These ideas worked for my clients, and I know they’re going to help you too. 

Let’s dive right into it.

Good Child Syndrome
Photo by Bess Hamiti from Pexels

1. What Is Good Child Syndrome?

Good Child Syndrome isn’t officially recognised as a medical term.

It’s the term most widely used to describe a person who feels a desperate need to comply with whatever is asked of them.

Without this, they don’t believe they’re good enough for love from anyone. 

This behaviour is instilled into them from childhood, but will carry over into adulthood if not addressed.

2. How Does Someone Develop Good Child Syndrome? 

As children, love and approval from our parents means everything, as we’re reliant on this to survive.

Of course, it’s natural for toddlers to curiously test the boundaries of what they can get away with, Indeed, it’s imperative for a parent to scorn them when these boundaries are crossed.

But it’s how children are scorned which can have a huge impact on their personalities.

If a parent appears to withdraw their love whenever their child misbehaves, this can scare the child into perfect behaviour. 

On the surface, this may not seem so bad. In fact, outsiders may marvel at a parent who raises the perfectly polite and obedient child. 

The problem is: by frightening them into acting this way, they’ll often cause psychological scars that are carried well into adulthood. 

3. What Are The Consequences Of Good Child Syndrome?  

It’s natural human behaviour to seek approval from those around us. However, a ‘good child’ has been taught they can only achieve this by obeying and agreeing.

So, they suppress their true self. They supplicate to everyone around them. They do things they don’t want to do. They take more abuse than most would tolerate. They never stand up for themselves. Naturally, this leads to feelings of fear, frustration and worthlessness.

The saddest irony of all is that society tends to treat these types of people worse than others. I’ll share the reasons why later on… 

4. How Can Parents Fix Children With Good Child Syndrome?

In a child’s early years, unruly behaviour is inevitable. 

During these moments, even the most patient parents may experience an urge to emotionally (or physically) lash out at their child. In many cases, this is the quickest way to solve the problem. 

However, if severe enough, it could cause trauma which eventually grows into Good Child Syndrome and makes their lives miserable.

Although it requires more patience, it’s far healthier to lovingly scorn your child whenever they misbehave.   

Consider the difference: 

“Mummy loves you, but you can’t behave like that. I need you to go to your bedroom and think about what you’ve done.”    


“You are a horrible child. Go to your room and don’t come out until I say!” 

Of course, in both scenarios, you’d follow through with your punishment, but your words and actions matter.

Yes, you’re only human and you probably will punish your child too harshly on occasion. That’s fine, provided you address it. If you said something harmful, rectify it by showing you still love them in spite of their bad behaviour.

Your child’s mental health could depend on you doing this properly.    

5. Realise That Most People Don’t Like Adults With ‘Good Child Syndrome’

Perhaps you’re the one with Good Child Syndrome? Maybe you’ve only just realised…

After all, most people probably just call you a pushover, a people-pleaser or the ‘nice guy’ who always finishes last. These terms don’t address the origins of the behaviour, but they’re accurate descriptions of what an adult with Good Child Syndrome turns into. 

So, how can you fix it? A great first step is to realise that no-one likes a people-pleaser.

Yes, most humans appreciate kindness, generosity and agreeableness, but we can also sense when these traits are being displayed for selfish reasons.

Maybe you’ve had a beggar or street vendor try to exchange niceties, because they want your money. Perhaps a friend or colleague has tried being overly nice before asking for a huge favour.

In these situations, you know something doesn’t feel right. You can sense they aren’t being genuine. If this person is a stranger, you probably don’t want to be around them any more, such is the discomfort they made you experience.  

Now, please understand that humans feel the same way about people-pleasers!! 

You’ll find no greater example of this than in the world of dating and relationships. What happens when men or women give too much affection to the object of their desires? It almost never works out. They nearly always scare that person away. In many cases, they’re mocked or belittled by them.  

It’s the same in a professional environment. People-pleasers may be offered extra responsibility and more hours, but they’ll rarely see the salary raise they want, nor the respect they so desperately crave.   

When you’re excessively obedient, polite or generous to gain someone’s approval, you repel them! And you fail to get the one thing you actually wanted. 

No-one respects a pushover. No-one likes people-pleasers. So, there’s really no reason to act this way at all.  

Good Child
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6. Ask For What You Want 

Here’s a great starter exercise to help erase your Good Child Syndrome. Start asking for what you want. 

Aim to do so at least five times per day.

This could be as simple as asking a work colleague for the time or to borrow their pen. Those with a severe case of Good Child Syndrome may even struggle to do that.

However, for this exercise to be truly effective, you need to start asking for things you think you might not get. Try to become a small burden. Ask to jump a queue because you’re in a hurry. Ask for a small discount on purchases. Ask that gorgeous woman out on a date!  

Focus on how you ask too. Avoid sounding or acting overly polite or apologetic. Try and ask as if you expect to receive it. If you’re initially turned down, see if you can be brave enough to try and change their mind.  

This exercise will teach you:

  • You’ll get a lot more than you expect in life if you just ask for it. 
  • If someone says ‘no’ to you, they won’t hate you. In fact, they’ll often be apologetic. 

7. Put Yourself First

In order to best serve others, you first need to treat yourself well. It’s called looking after number one.  

So, don’t be afraid to put yourself first. Everyone needs this sometimes. 

It’s OK to say ‘no’.

Overcome Good Child Syndrome
Photo by Marta Wave from Pexels

8. Be Loud

Children infected with Good Child Syndrome are often taught it’s bad to be expressive. They’re scolded for crying, singing, playing or doing anything too loudly.

Inevitably, they’re stifled and become adults who are too afraid to express their emotions.

These adults find it tough to excite or inspire anyone. They find it harder to stand out in the battle for an attractive romantic partner or a good job. They might struggle to make friends, or to even have their opinion heard in a group setting. 

Well, there’s a reason why most self-help workshops involve yelling and screaming. It’s because unstifling yourself opens doors. 

So, if you fear being judged as too overbearing, I’d recommend you practice being ‘too loud’. Just for a moment at a time.

Try interrupting a small group for a few seconds or making an impromptu announcement in a crowded room. For great results, engage in a public social freedom exercise, such as singing in public or deliberately speaking too loud on the phone in a quiet shop. 

This exercise will teach you:

  • Nothing horrible will happen if you’re too loud. At worst, you’ll be politely asked to quieten down. 
  • When you own your loudness, others listen, regardless of how ‘rude’ your introduction was.  

9. Don’t Be Afraid To Disagree 

If someone shares an opinion you disagree with, tell them. You don’t need to be confrontational or aggressive, but you should always speak your truth.  

People-pleasers can’t do this, even for the most trivial topics, and that usually stems from having love withdrawn when they disagreed with their parents. 

10. Set Personal Boundaries And Stick To Them 

A child doesn’t have too much say about who they spend time with, even if that person is treating them badly.

But, as an adult, you have far more control over this.

I’d recommend writing a list of boundaries for how others must treat you. If anyone oversteps a boundary, tell them. If they keep doing so, remove them from your life. No-one should be exempt from these rules. 

By staying true to your personal boundaries, others will respect you and you’ll begin to respect yourself far more.   

11. Accept That Not Everyone Is Supposed To Like You 

As a child, you’re dependent on support from your parents. You need their love to survive. 

As an adult, you’re unlikely to be dependent on anyone. You shouldn’t need any particular person to like you.

That’s lucky, because it’s almost impossible to make everyone like you. No matter what you say or do, there’ll usually be someone with a problem

Even the biggest people-pleaser in the world ticks others off, as we’ve explored. 

The good news is: once you accept that, you’ll hopefully start feeling free to live life on your terms. 

You’ll become a lot happier and far less anxious when you focus on impressing yourself, instead of bending over backwards to impress someone else.  

Ironically, it’s those who are the most authentic to themselves that tend to receive the most love and respect from others. 

It’s no coincidence that the world’s most beloved celebrities tend to have the world’s most unique personalities. Elvis Presley. Freddie Mercury. Michael Jackson. They did their thing without worrying what society thought. Eminem. Lady Gaga. Kim Kardashian. The list goes on…

Sure, these celebrities attract plenty of haters too, but do you think they give a damn? Their fans LOVE them and that’s what has allowed them to live such incredible lives.    

12. Notice The Weight Lifted Off Your Shoulders

When you engage in these exercises, notice how you feel immediately afterwards. 

I predict you’ll feel lighter, less tense and more FREE! 

That’s because you’re not hiding your feelings or repressing your personality any more. It feels great, right?

Yes, you were nervous at first because you’re so used to being the ‘good child’. But if you keep engaging in these exercises, you can slowly mould yourself into a better reality. 

Losing your Good Child Syndrome can take one hell of a long time, but I know it’s going to be a worthwhile journey. 

You’ll be a lot happier in your own skin, and your personal relationships would improve too. 

Any Questions About How To Overcome The Good Child Syndrome? 

Thanks so much for reading my article. Please take a moment to share it with a parent, a child or anyone you believe will find it useful. Keep it bookmarked if it helped you. 

I’d love to know what you have to say related to this topic. So, if you want to share your opinions, leave a comment below.

It would be great to hear from you.

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About The Author

Bijan Kholghi is a certified life coach with the Milton Erickson Institute Heidelberg (Germany). He helps clients and couples reach breakthroughs in their lives by changing subconscious patterns. His solution-oriented approach is based on Systemic- and Hypnotherapy.