The Fridge Door Syndrome

Written By Adam Drake

5 min read

I am a parent and as a parent I am often questioning what methods and practises I should be adopting in order to give my children a good upbringing. As all parents will know the path of parenthood is fraught with difficulties, failures and setbacks. However, it is also one of the most rewarding adventures you can ever hope to embark on.

So imagine my surprise when reading The Chimp Paradox by Dr Steve Peters recently and learning about the ‘Fridge Door Syndrome’. In his book Dr Peters describes ‘The Fridge Door Syndrome’ as one of the most common forms of Goblins that affects most people in Western society.

*Note: A Goblin is described as being more or less a hard-wired behaviour, belief or automatic program that developed in childhood before the age of 8. In the Chimp Paradox, Goblins are pretty much considered unerasable and therefore something we need to learn to contain.

What exactly is the ‘Fridge Door Syndrome’?

Imagine you are a parent and your child is attending their first day of school. The apprehensive child is full of emotions at the prospect of embarking on a big step in their young lives. At school their teacher suggests that the child paint their parents a beautiful picture. After school the young child runs up to their parent with the picture in hand and eagerly shows them their latest masterpiece.

The child hands over their work of art and the parent (with the best intentions) wanting to praise their child and boost their confidence looks at the picture and responds with something like ‘Wow! This picture is fantastic, you are very clever, I am so proud of you. Shall we put this on the Fridge so everyone can see?’. The parent then puts the picture onto the Fridge for all the world to see.

Child drawing a picture

This is good parenting right? Taking interest in what your child is doing and encouraging them and then showing this to the world? Wrong! According to Dr. Peters this is putting a great big Goblin into their child that they now must deal with for the rest of their lives. The child now associates the love and attention they received from their parents with what they DID rather than with who they are. They now have a belief that in order to be loved and respected in the world they must achieve and accomplish things. According to Dr. Peters this is why so much of the Western world is beset on achievement in life and so much praise is placed on those who accomplish things. This is why so many people end up with low self esteem because they struggle to live up to expectations and therefore feel that they just aren’t enough.

Dr. Peters suggests a better approach would be when the child runs up to their parents, that they put the picture to one side and hug and greet the child and express their pride and joy at that moment and THEN look at the picture. This sends a message to the child that THEY are important irregardless of what they do or achieve.


When I read this it instantly hit me. I had been passing these Goblins onto my children since their births!! I started searching through memories and was horrified how many times I had done this. I then looked around and suddenly became conscious of this behaviour in so many of my friends who have children. It really shocked me that such a normalised behaviour in our society and culture could actually be planting these Goblins in our children and impacting the very way they see themselves in the world.


OK… maybe it isn’t SO dramatic as my initial reaction but upon finding out about this Syndrome and digesting it I have had a definite behavioural change. Now whenever my children present me with something they have done I really try hard to greet THEM first and then look at whatever they are presenting. I don’t always succeed but I am definitely conscious and aware of this now.

This is also why I love reading because time and time again it shows how having access to other people’s wisdom can bring about positive changes in your life. For me this particular realisation really hit close to home as I am a parent of young children and I really believe that parents have a fundamental responsibility in raising their children.How the child develops is very much affected by their relationship with their parents or parental figures.

Dr Peters book ‘The Chimp Paradox’ is an incredibly powerful mind management model that can help you become a happy, confident, healthier and more successful person.

Want to Learn More?

The Chimp Paradox: Dr Steve Peters.

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