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Are You Suffering From The “Good Boy-Good Girl” Syndrome?

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Editor's note: This post is a part of #BHL, a campaign by BBC Media Action and Youth Ki Awaaz to redefine and own the label of what a 'bigda hua ladka or ladki' really is. If you believe in making your own choices and smashing this stereotype, share your story.

Be alert!

Almost all human societies in the world today are found to be suffering from the “Good boy-Good girl syndrome”.

Check … You might be one of the victims or even a carrier for your next generation! Or you may secretly wish this syndrome! You may find yourself surrounded by the infected crowd!

Disease transmission

The virus infects at a very early age, through vectors like elders, teachers, media and society. Conditional love, appreciative strokes and material rewards get the virus literally into your nerves. For example – can you recall, anything on similar lines?

                “If you don’t throw tantrums in public, you will get two chocolates instead one”.

                “Good boys don’t cry”

                “Beta, mummy will love you more if you never bunk the school”

                “Who are teacher’s favourite students? Those who keep quiet in class”

                “Our Raju is so intelligent that he finishes his plate every day.” and so on.

Good boys and good girls ‘always’ behave well or try to behave well. The word ‘always’ is highlighted here because this syndrome is characterised by patterned actions. The syndrome does not support flexibility at all.


  • Elders are nothing but, ‘the god’ for good boys and good girls. Elders cannot be questioned even if they behave weirdly sometimes. Disagreement and/or argument with elders is a sin.
  • Good boys and good girls always study hard because they feel, that the grade in an exam is the best judgement of their worth. They start feeling guilty if they don’t study once a while or get lesser marks than their peers.
  • Extra-curricular activities like sports and arts are allowed as ‘side-by-side’ hobbies but never as a career.
  • Apart from studies, they always provide excellent help in household work.
  • They present themselves well in front of all guests and relatives.
  • Good boys-good girls maintain maximum stiff body and least expressive face.
  • In youth and adulthood, the syndrome manifests itself in multiple forms like “Good son/daughter”, “Good spouse”, “Good sibling”, “Good son-in-law/daughter-in-law”, “Good employee”, “Good citizen” etc.
  • In childhood, the immune system tries to resist but in adulthood, immunity is extremely weak.
  • Good boys-good girls blindly follow parent’s choices of “stable + reputed + least risky option” as a career and “best fitting another good boy-good girl sample” as a spouse.
  • They successfully manage their “bread-winner” and “home-maker” roles without complaining.
  • Investments, fame, bank-balance, foreign trips – all are criteria for syndrome’s good persistence.
  • Good boys-good girls don’t drink alcohol or smoke. Even if they do it occasionally, it’s not permitted in presence of elders.
  • Expression of sexual desires in any form is also totally the secret matter.
  • They are allowed to be socially conscious but to a limited extent, not at the cost of their breadwinning and home-making.
  • They can do limited charity but not the revolution.
  • They follow parents and majority’s ideologies about politics, religion, caste, gender and sexual identity etc.
  • Good boys-good girls are ever ready to help others. They never make mistakes, if they do a mistake by chance, guilt kills them.
  • They always think and talk in a logical way. Being illogical is not accepted.
  • They live in an organised way. Being unorganised is not accepted.
  • They never cry even if they feel shattered inside. They face challenges with a smiling face even if their heart is full of fear sometimes. They never get angry. Abusive language is not in their dictionary. They neither burp in public nor yawn in classrooms. They don’t get tired.
  • They are allowed to express happiness but only to a certain extent. Jumping, loud laughter and shouting might destroy the honour of “good boy/ good girl”.
  • They are committed to building at least one more generation of good boy/good girl.

Diagnosis & treatment

  • The diagnosis of this syndrome is difficult because patients or caregivers rarely realize and/or accept their symptoms. The so-called “invisibility” of the syndrome has made it to persist in our societies for generations.
  • Scientists have found that “self-remedy” is the only treatment. Observing ourselves every movement and breaking “patterns” of thoughts, feelings and actions is possible.
  • However, treatment can be only started if one accepts symptoms and diagnosis.
  • Children can be immunized with the “flexibility vaccine” but again, acceptance of syndrome in the family is crucial.

It is being thought to include “Eradication of good boy-good girl syndrome” as one of the “Sustainable development goals” (SDGs).

We condemn rigid-compulsive labels of “good and bad” for human beings. We hope for healthy future of our healthy societies!

Acknowledgement: I am grateful to Mr Sathish Selvakumar for his valuable help as well as all my beloved co-counsellors for helping me to develop my understanding.


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