Electra Complex in Girls: What You Should Know

It's normal for girls around the age of three to show a certain preference for the father. Today, we'll look at Electra complex in girls.
Electra Complex in Girls: What You Should Know

Last update: 02 May, 2022

Electra complex in girls isn’t a problem, as long as they don’t display unhealthy behavior toward their father while growing up.

In general, little girls, during the first three or four years of life, show a certain predilection for their father figure. In what sense? Girls prefer the company, affection, and attention of their father. It seems like some sort of crush.

If the girl grows up and continues to show an exaggerated attachment to her father, it’s possible that it’s a fixation and, therefore, a case of an Electra complex.

Girls tend to be jealous and possessive of their fathers during their early years. However, this usually subsides on its own over time. It’s normal for them to have this type of behavior with both parents, at different stages.

According to the analogy made by the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, Electra complex in girls is the female equivalent of the Oedipus complex, which consists of a boy’s fixation on his mother.

Both complexes are closely related to the stories of the classical world, in which their protagonists came to carry out extremist actions inspired by various misunderstandings and also by their obsession or unhealthy affection towards their parents.

Why does the Electra complex occur?

It’s believed that when girls reach the age of three, they begin to distinguish the main characteristics that identify both sexes, so it’s natural for there to be a certain type of attraction to the main male reference they know: Their father.

At this stage of development, the girl may come to focus her attention exclusively on her father. In such a way that she only wants his company, attention, affection, and care. In other words, she’ll want him as a father, friend, and companion all the time.

At the same time, curiosity and attraction make girls seek to imitate their parents in various aspects. These actions help them to discover the difference between the sexes and to recognize themselves as individual beings, not an extension of their father.

A father and daughter sucking on opposite ends of the same spaghetti noodle.

Although it’s a normal process in the psychosexual development of girls, it’s crucial not to neglect certain aspects and to emphasize sexual education.

One of the most important aspects to be clarified is the differences between male and female genitalia, as well as setting clear limits regarding care and contact with them to ensure healthy development.

Tips for Overcoming the Electra Complex

At all times, it’s important to put into practice our understanding and to be patient and clear when giving explanations and give them as many times as necessary.

Let’s remember that we have a great influence on our children and, above all, when it comes to their mental health.

  • Provide a good example.
  • Promote female education.
  • Maintain good communication.
  • Take situations of jealousy with good humor.
  • Try to make clear the role of each family member.
  • Encourage the girl to develop her self-esteem and also her independence.
  • Activities between mother and daughter can always be encouraged in order to encourage the little girl to also identify with her mother and stop seeing her as a rival.
  • We must be kind, respectful, and loving in the way we correct the girl when she shows jealousy, hostility, and other inappropriate behavior.
  • We must also teach her alternatives and try to focus her attention on other issues than her father. For example, we can invite her to play with other children her age or with mom, go for a walk, play a sport, or start developing a hobby, etc.
  • If necessary, don’t hesitate to consult a specialist in child psychology. Be sure to apply all the recommendations that they make in order to prevent the Electra complex from persisting over time and becoming a bigger problem tomorrow.
  • Be patient, because this stage will soon pass.
A father and daughter with their faces close to one another smiling in a pool.

Overcoming Electra complex in girls and when to go to the psychologist

Makeup or heels are a clear imitation of the mother and how she projects herself in front of others, particularly in front of the father. When the daughter seeks to compete, she gets closer to the father and inversely, she moves away from the mother.

When she’s seven or eight years old, the girl will once again turn to her mother, and when she dresses or speaks like her, she’ll do so by defining her personality and femininity, without competition and without tension.

But if the complex wasn’t overcome, problems may arise in her relationship with other women, and later, in the selection of her partner. Events of anguish and anxiety are usually recorded and, on occasions, a need for attention that unconsciously seeks the care of the fantasized father.

In extreme cases, it can lead to frigidity or anorgasmia. What’s more, the mother may feel that her daughter is competing for her husband’s affection or closeness. The scene becomes complicated or very serious when the father abuses the daughter and the mother doesn’t prevent it or protect her. Or if the child is a boy, an obsessive sense of possession is revealed in the mother.

That’s why it’s so important to go to the psychologist when the symptoms get out of control because, as Carl Jung warned: “A complex becomes sick only when you think you don’t have it.”

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