What Is Golden Child Syndrome? Is It Real?-A Psychological Perspective

It is often believed that a child is a product of the environment in which they were raised. The early years of childhood play an important role in shaping a child’s character and behavior. 

Therefore, parents and guardians are tasked with giving their children the best possible start in life.

But what happens when we place so much emphasis on achievement and success at a very early age? Psychologists and other behavioral experts have been studying the effect of reward-based naturing, and the results might surprise you.

It is obviously in the best interest of any parent that their child grows up to be the best they can be. This, however, seems to put an unbecoming weight of expectation on children.

What is Golden Child Syndrome? Is it Real?

Golden Child Syndrome is the idea that parents should only restrict their affection towards their child to moments where they show achievement or success. The phenomenon is very much real. Psychologists and behavioral scientists have studied its short-term and long-term effects.

Characteristics Of The Golden Child Syndrome

Are you suffering from Golden Child Syndrome? The Golden Child Syndrome manifests itself in so many ways. These characteristics are present in the behavior and the interactions of the victim.

How does the Golden Child Syndrome manifest? Here are some of the key signs:

1. Issues with self-esteem

People suffering from the Golden Child Syndrome often exhibit low self-esteem. It often manifests itself due to an overwhelming desire to gain the approval of others. They often strive to satisfy their parents, peers, bosses, and even strangers.

Putting very little attention and care towards their desires or even failing to prove their worth often results in low self-esteem. It can lead to self-resentment and an unwarranted feeling of failure.

The deprivation of approval and validation is linked with failure and regret, which results in low self-worth.

2. Repression

Studies have shown that people who suffer from the Golden Child Syndrome are, more often than not, repressed. There are many reasons why Golden Child Syndrome can lead to repression and withdrawal.

Repression often manifests itself as a defense mechanism to cope with failure. To a victim of the Golden Child Syndrome, nothing is more daunting than the prospect of failure. Anything likely to trigger failure is often avoided at all costs.

It, therefore, results in a state where the victims are unwilling to try new things or take up new hobbies or activities.

3. Workaholism

Workaholism is strongly linked to the Golden Child Syndrome. It largely stems from the reward-based manner in which the victims were raised.

Using love and affection as a reward for achievement creates an ideology that the only way to earn satisfaction is by immersing yourself in gaining achievement.

It is not uncommon for people who suffer from the Golden Child Syndrome to have an inferior work-life balance. 

It often results in developing poor social skills, heightened stress, and reduced productivity due to burn-out and poor health.

Workaholism is used as a means to gain reward and validation.

4. Addiction

People who suffer from the Golden Child Syndrome find escape mechanisms from the excruciating weight of expectation. 

These expectations are set by themselves and others as well. They can find escape through various outlets such as video games, alcohol, gambling, etc.

Having a high sense of expectation is often stressful and nerve-wracking. In addition, the fear of failure can often drive people over the edge. 

Therefore, it is not uncommon for people to over-indulge and ends up developing an addiction. Addiction can also manifest itself as workaholism and a high work drive.

5. Attention seeking behavior

Attention-seeking behavior is widespread among victims of the Golden Child Syndrome. A distinct deprivation of attention mainly causes it as a child or a lot of validation growing up.

Attention-seeking can either be conscious or unconscious. These individuals strive to portray themselves in a manner that will evoke admiration from peers, parents, and even strangers.

Attention seeking can manifest itself in different ways. It can be through being controversial to start a conversation, trying to gain complements or even empathy.

6. Little life satisfaction

People who suffer from the Golden Child Syndrome tend to live for others rather than themselves. They, therefore, have very little satisfaction in their own lives.

The golden child will pursue a career that their parents deem elite. They will restrict their life options to only what society approves.

It will often lead to a feeling of emptiness, and they often end up wondering what might have been having they chosen a different path.

Low life satisfaction can have detrimental psychological implications, including stress and depression.

7. Identity crisis

After several years of being constrained by a particular ideological approach to life, Golden Child Syndrome victims eventually develop an identity crisis.

A child must develop their identity through their own experiences and preferences. By excessively limiting their options to conform to an idealized standard of perfection, the parents and guardians take the children’s options away.

 A fundamental part of developing character and identity is making mistakes and learning from them. Children who develop the Golden Child Syndrome are never encouraged to make these mistakes.

How To Overcome Golden Child Syndrome

Just like many conditions, it is possible to overcome Golden Child Syndrome. It requires work and dedication and a solid commitment to self-betterment. It will help you have a fulfilled and better life.

Overcoming the condition takes time, but eventually, it will be worth the effort. Here are ways in which you can heal and overcome Golden Child Syndrome:

1. Recognizing and Accepting the Condition

The first step to overcoming the condition is accepting its existence and acknowledging it as an actual problem.

Only once the problem has been acknowledged; can you begin finding a real solution. Many people suffering from the Golden Child Syndrome tend to live in denial of the problem’s existence.

Accepting the condition allows you to approach the remedies with an open mind. It also places less emphasis on regulating individual behavioral symptoms, which is an excellent place to start.

2. Seek help from a therapist

There is no better way to approach the problem than speaking to a professional. A therapist will help you to manage and eventually overcome the condition.

A huge part of dealing with the Golden Child Syndrome is uncovering past problems and issues. A therapist will help you identify the roots of the problem and help you understand the condition better.

Therapy also goes a long way in helping you manage the symptoms and other underlying issues related to the condition.

3. Developing a deep sense of assertiveness

An assertive nature and mindset are essential in managing the condition. Many of the issues that cause the Golden Child Syndrome stem from conforming to idealized standards of perfectionism.

You need to understand that you have control of your life. You don’t necessarily have to align your life with unrealistic standards of perfectionism.

Assertiveness will liberate you from the urge to please other people and work for their validation. It will also help you focus on what makes you happy and content.

4. Develop an innate sense of happiness

It is perhaps one of the most important steps you can take on your road to overcoming the condition. You should seek happiness, not in what you can offer others, but in what you can find within.

It will help you overcome the need to seek validation from other people. It will also help you avoid manipulation and unwarranted influence from other individuals. It also helps manage symptoms like attention-seeking, little life satisfaction, etc.  

Not only will you develop a sense of confidence, but you will also find contentment with yourself.

5. Try new things and find new hobbies.

Golden Child Syndrome develops after being restricted to doing certain things and meeting specific standards. You may not necessarily like these activities, though they seem to make people happy.

You ought to find what you like and what makes you happy. Embrace a new hobby and try new activities. You do not have to over-commit to them. Just keep an open mind.

Developing new hobbies can help you overcome specific symptoms of Golden Child Syndrome, such as addiction and workaholism. It also significantly improves the overall state of your mental well-being.


Naturing a child requires a parent or guardian to display affection and care toward their child. It should not be restricted or used as a reward for achievement.

The societal emphasis on a reward-based way of living tends to place overwhelming pressure on children. It can cause them to exhibit behavioral anomalies.

Narcissistic parents often raise people who develop Golden Child Syndrome. Being the golden child will inevitably result in frustration and a prodigious urge to please others.

Elizabeth Willett (MA)
Elizabeth Willett (MA)
Elizabeth Willett has an M.A in health and fitness, is an experienced trainer, and enjoys teaching children about healthy eating habits. She loves to cook nutritious meals for her family.


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