What is the good girl syndrome really? And I refuse to think this is only an issue for girls, so let us quickly stick to the description good child syndrome. I have heard the term several times and I thought I had an idea on what this was. But I never took the time to have a more thorough look. Well now I did, and the topic is quite big and it is surprisingly little public documents about it. I however found several smaller research and perceptions. So just to start somewhere, here is the “symptoms” or behavior pattern that I found.
Al Siebert, PhD at Resiliency Center is describing a person with good child syndrome to still be stuck with what their parents told them was a good child:
– Not complaining
– Not angry
– Not selfish
– Not dishonest
– Not self-centered or prideful
– Not rebellious
Michelle Bersell, M.A., M.Ed has summed up the good child syndrome with the following:
– When we say yes when we really want to say no
– When our feelings get hurt yet we do not say a word
– We completely disagree but we go along with it anyway.
Beverly Engel is an MFCT and psychotherapist and the author of eighteen self-help books. She is explaining it like this below:
– Are you too nice for your own good?
– Do family members manipulate you?
– Do co-workers take advantage of you?
And finally Joshua Kennon is describing it like this:
– do not say no even though you want to
– Find yourself doing grunt work no one else is willing to do?
– Trying to please everyone.
All descriptions are quite high level, but if you should make it more specific the list would be long. Of all the descriptions I have found, what they all have in common is being self-sacrificing and not standing up for yourself. So if I stick to that summary, I have no other choice then to admit that I have been there as well.
Al Siebert is also listing what would describe an adult behavior with a good child syndrome:
– Smile when upset.
– Rarely let you know they are angry at you.
– Seldom make selfish requests.
– Point out your faults, saying “I’m only telling you for your own good.”
– Give “should” instructions to others.
– Get upset with you and then say “You really hurt me.”
– Smile and compliment people to their faces but say critical things behind their backs.
– alert and warn others about “bad” people
– Cannot accept compliments easily or agree they are good at something.
– Use the phrase “But I meant well.” When confronted about something hurtful.
– Fear being regarded as hurtful, tough, selfish, insensitive, or uncaring.
– Do not express criticism directly. In group meetings they will smile and agree.
– When asked to express a contrary opinion, they are unable to do so.
– If they disagree, they will after the meeting expresses their criticism.
Does anyone recognize themselves? I can at least name several episodes where I have fallen in to this behavior. But I cannot say that it is describing for my life. Does that make me a good girl? Or that I am suffering from Good Child syndrome? I would think no, rather I am an individual that sometimes are not ensuring that I am standing up for myself, and being treated with the respect I deserve. And I need to remember that it is my choice.