West Ridge Academy - Understanding The Lost Child Syndrome

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  • 1. West Ridge Academy - Shedding Light On The Lost Child SyndromeWest Ridge Academy suggests when one of the siblings in the family suddenly act out, thefamily dynamics may be thrown into disarray, leaving the other kids possibly wondering wherethey would fit in with their new environment. The "Lost Child Syndrome" attempts understandthe different things that the other children in the family can do when they have a brother or sisterwho is acting out. While these roles may be fleeting and subtle in nature, the family andremaining members are equally at risk, along with the acting-out child, who is demanding all thefamilys focus, time and energy.Parents will have the tendency to focus their attention on the child who is acting out, while theother kids are subsequently taken for granted even though they also need that important careand attention from their parents. The supposedly good siblings will start to resent the attentionthat the acting-out child gets from their parents, and may start to create problems themselves inan effort to grab some of the attention of their parents. If this unhealthy environment is notclipped earlier, professional help may be required in order to restore balance and order in thefamily.West Ridge Academy points out that parents will often feel the pangs of guilt due to the angerthat they feel towards the acting-our child. Some parents will feel betrayed, mad, hopeless andvengeful, while others will not know what to make of what they feel. Its quite easy to see thatthe whole family is falling apart at the seams. These stresses can result in a variety of negativeeffects, such as strain on the marriage, parental withdrawal, and feelings of not being goodenough parents.During the time that the family tries to cope up with the responsibilities of dealing with aproblematic child, the other siblings will often voluntarily take it upon themselves to assumeother family roles while the family frantically tries to restore order amidst the stressful, chaoticand fragile environment that they are forced to face at home. Listed below are some of the mostcommon roles that children usually assume under the Lost Child Syndrome:The Lost Child: This is usually assumed by the youngest child, although any child can also takean interest in assuming this particular role. "The Lost Child" deals with his problems by choosingto remain invisible. As these children turn into adulthood, they often remain in the peripheral ofthe world and have difficulty forming relationships. Socially, they seem to be very guarded,isolated and depressed. They become more susceptible to forming addictions to alcohol, drugs,pornography, food and sexual activity. Some of them tend to get confused with their sexualidentity. The "Lost Child" often feels that he is not important, alone and practically invisible in theeyes of other people. Because they have seen that the acting-out child was "rewarded" withtheir parents attention despite his bad behavior, they will subscribe to a crooked sense of beliefthat good behavior will likely be ignored or neglected.The Scapegoat: This child receives the brunt of his familys desire to relieve the conflicts andtension in the family. Most often, this particular role is assigned to the acting-out child by

2. default. Scapegoats usually appear tough, hostile, resistant and mad at the world, althoughdeep inside they actually feel unloved, hurt and guilt. Scapegoats are often used as diversionsfrom other pressing family issues such as marital problems, addiction problem of a familymember, recurring grief or trauma, lingering illnesses, or any such problem which the familychooses not to address head on.The Hero: Often assumed by the eldest child, this role takes on the parental responsibilities forthe other children. Due to the fact that their self-worth is defined by their ability in becoming aperceived able caretaker, heroes usually bond with other individuals which need to be lookedafter. They are usually high achievers, but inwardly feel inadequate and alone.The Mascot: This child provides the much needed comic relief amidst the familys adversitieswhich diverts their attention, albeit temporarily, from the depressing matters. They act as therelief valve in the pressure cooker situation which the family is undergoing because of all thepressing family concerns. Mascots can present with symptoms of hyperactivity or learningdisabilities. Despite their appearance of being carefree from the outside, they actually feel a lotof fear inside.During the times when the family is in chaos and family members voluntarily step into theseroles, boundaries become blurred and communication lines become confusing. The family willkeep on repeating a vicious cycle, oblivious to the symptoms of a rapidly degenerating anddysfunctional family, as each child plays out their own self-assumed roles within the family. Afragile family atmosphere is thus created, as each family member tries to tackle issues withinthe roles that they have assumed or were given to them.West Ridge Academy cautions, if this is not resolved, lost children will be exposed tosubstantial emotional harm, stunting their personal growth as well as their function towards thefamily. Our next weeks article will provide parents needed resources to identify these negativeand destructive roles, and in their stead, create positive family roles.


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