Games children play – Happy to help

This game is about survival

The good child. This child does what it is told, follows the rules, can be overly helpful, can be quite shy, is reluctant to express what it wants or needs, will put others before itself. If they are not so much the shy one they can become high achievers if they have natural talent in some area. They learn that to be good you do well at school, or in sport or in civic work and so they achieve in that way, by doing ’stuff’, rather than hiding away.

Why would such a youngster exhibit excessive Conforming Child ego state and give up their Rebellious Child and Free Child ego states

Ego states good child Jpeg

There can be a number of reasons for this

* There can be an excessive pressure for the child to conform by the parents who may be quite conforming themselves. “What will the neighbours think” is often the motto of such a family. The parents are reluctant to be non-conforming themselves and perhaps are merely parenting the way they were parented.

The pressure can also be applied because the parents use the child as a status symbol. Often this is the eldest child in the family or the one the parents believe have some natural talent. I recall one instance of an individual who was relentlessly pressured by mother to go to university and become a doctor. Whenever there was a family get together it was repeatedly announced particularly by mother that he was a doctor. She was using her son’s achievement to compete or gain credence in the wider family. You see people like this in the counselling room in their 30s or 40s and they say things like, “I never wanted to be an economist, I just wanted to be an opera singer”.

* This can be the oldest child in the family and the parents use that child as a live in baby-sitter for the younger siblings which frees up the parents. If the eldest child accepts this role this fosters the child to put its needs behind those of its younger siblings. Alternatively it can be a child who has a sibling who is disabled, or sick, or has extra needs of some sort. The parents simply do not have the time and energy to deal with the non-sick youngster so they force it to be good so it requires less attention. In large families as well you can get the ‘forgotten child’. In today’s culture any family that has over three children is quite possibly emotionally damaging to the children for the reason just cited.

People who are this type of good child often will tend towards the helping professions in adulthood. They can quite easily become counsellors because in such a role you focus on the needs and wants of others and do not discuss your own such wants. Your needs are secondary at least while you are working.


* Sometimes it is the only position left in the family. As a new child enters the family and grows into it he has to find where he fits. The parents have the Parent and Adult ego states covered and a sibling may have the outspoken, demanding position taken so the ‘happy to help’ good child position is the only one left. If the child’s natural temperament is of that kind then it can very easily fall into the good child position in the family.

* The good child can be anxiety driven. If a child develops significant anxiety for some reason, it can make the early decision, “To make myself safe I need to sit quietly and watch what is happening” or, “I must not rock the boat or bad things happen”.

* The good child can be the result of a very low self image or low self esteem. This is not so much an anxious position but a despairing or given up position. This child can feel – “What’s the point” or “Why bother asking for anything as I will never get it”. If there is some anger in the child then this is often self directed and can include significant feelings of self loathing or self hatred and can result in eating disorders or self harm of some kind.

The ‘Happy to help’ game in essence involves a contraction of the Free Child(FC) ego state. As mentioned before such game players often present for counselling in their 30s or 40s and ask the question, “Who am I?” in some form. Without good access to the Free Child you cannot answer that question. If you are high Conforming Child (CC) the answer to that question is – “I am who you want me to be”. If the person if high Rebellious Child (RC) then they answer – “I am the opposite of who you want me to be”. Both the RC and CC are adaptations to the parents. If they are left to do what they want then they are lost, they do not have a sense of who they are and thus will not have a direction in life and will never find their true passion in life. The person with good access to their FC will be able to answer the question, “Who am I?”. They can answer with the practicalities of life, but they will also have a sense of who they are. They will feel it inside. The RC and CC do not feel it.

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