Childhood emotional neglect is when a parent fails to acknowledge their child’s emotional and mental needs. This form of neglect tends to have short-term and long-term effects. The short-term effects are usually difficult to notice since they are subtle. Severe cases are usually easier to notice since they draw attention.
Childhood emotional neglect can be intentional or unintentional. For some parents, emotional neglect is used to toughen up their children. The unintentional form of neglect can be due to past experiences. If not recognized at an early age, this neglect can affect the child during childhood and all the way to adulthood.
Signs of Childhood Emotional Neglect in Children
The major problem with this condition is that the signs are very easy to miss. Common signs of childhood emotional neglect in children include:
- Lack of confidence
- Challenges in forming and maintaining relationships
- Aggressive behaviour toward parents
- Low attention span
- Shunning away from emotional closeness
- Struggle to control emotions
Signs of Emotionally Neglectful Behaviors in Parents
People who experience emotional neglect as children have a higher chance of becoming parents who brush off their children’s emotions. Since their emotions were not considered important, they have a hard time nurturing their child’s emotions. Some of the symptoms of childhood neglect in parents include:
- Emotional unavailability
- Substance abuse
- Verbally aggressive discipline
- Less positive social interactions
- Difficulty trusting others
- Acting as if the child is a burden
Future Effects of Childhood Emotional Neglect
Childhood emotional neglect increases the chances of experiencing mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and personality disorders. Children who are neglected also end up as adults who:
- Have low self-esteem issues
- Fear abandonment
- Lack of boundaries in relationships and friendships
- Are unable to trust others fully
- Internalize stress
Emotional neglect is even harder to detect as an adult. Many people do not realize that their emotional struggles are due to the neglect they experienced as children. For this reason, if you notice your child exhibiting signs of the condition or you are also exhibiting signs, it is essential to take action.
How to Deal with Childhood Emotional Neglect
Taking your child for therapy helps them to learn and practice how to embrace their emotions and regulate their responses. Individual therapy can also help you unpack all the years of suppressed emotions as an adult. By the end of the sessions, you and your child will be able to identify, accept and express your emotions healthily.
Family therapy is also a great way to deal with childhood emotional neglect. The therapist will be able to help you to understand your child on a deeper level. It also gives your child an open space to be free with you about their feelings.
If you have difficulty being able to tend to your child’s emotional needs, you can also take part in parenting classes. These classes will help to equip you with the skills necessary to respond to your child’s emotions.
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