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Effects of Childhood Emotional Neglect

Everyone around us, including you, and I carries some amount of emotional baggage. This may vary from person to person, and this could cause damage or stress in different parts of life. The origin of emotional issues can almost always be traced to childhood.

Parents must be responsive to their children, look after their needs, are sensitive to needs and available for their child emotionally and physically. The child-parent relationship in the formative/early childhood years is significant as it helps the child/baby form positive relations and values.

Emotional neglect can have varied adverse psychological effects on the child throughout childhood or later in adulthood. Neglects can also impact the physiological, social, cognitive and behavioural aspects of a child’s life.

A famous experiment by Dr Edward Tronick, director-child development unit at Harvard University set a milestone in understanding neglect and its impact. The ‘Still face experiment’ showed a baby and the parent interacting. The parent was very responsive, talking to the child and looked and responded to what the baby pointed at. Here the baby was delighted and smiling. The parent then suddenly becomes still, showing no expression, not responsive or attending to the child’s interaction. The baby becomes distressed, screams to get attention, and soon starts crying.

This experiment showed how even two minutes of unresponsiveness had a negative effect on the child. Imagine emotional neglect faced by children for months or even years. This has a severe impact on life from early on until much later in life when it is not resolved, or the role models in life are negligent.

There are various reasons why parents may be emotionally negligent. This may be because of different forms of parenting styles.

1. Authoritative parents impose too many rules and restrict the child to express and experience things freely

2.Permissive parent who leaves the child to control their lives without setting any rules or boundaries.

3. Absent parents who are very occupied with their work and life, often unavailable to the child’s need.

On the other hand, there are other reasons: narcissistic parents, parents who have mental health issues and addicted to drugs or alcohol. These parents cannot attend to the child and negligent due to their problems with addiction or treatments.

The most common effects of childhood neglect that can be recognized in adulthood include:

  • post-traumatic stress disorder( PTSD)
  • depression
  • emotional unavailability
  • feeling empty
  • poor self-discipline
  • low self-esteem
  • aggressive behaviour
  • difficulty trusting others or relying on others
  • high levels of guilt, shame, and anger
  • feeling unfulfilled even when you achieve success
  • people-pleasing
  • problem asking for help from others

To overcome childhood emotional neglects, the following strategies can be helpful:

  1. Develop and practice compassion for self
  2. Pay attention to your feelings
  3. Increase emotional regulation and awareness of the emotions that you experience at a particular time or situation
  4. Learn assertiveness
  5. Develop better communication habits
  6. Seek family therapy

Childhood emotional neglect can impair a child’s self-esteem and emotional well-being, making them think that their feelings are not valid. The consequences of this neglect can be profound and last a lifetime.Treatment for childhood emotional neglect can help children overcome the feelings of emptiness, and they can learn to handle their emotions well. Likewise, parents can understand the importance and the needs of their child to pay greater attention in the future.

What do you think?

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Written by Ritu Mishra

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Manvi Verma

A very familiar concept and frequently read. Factual and insightful article but when we talk about a child, do you think a child can really implement these things? Just a thought.

Leanne Rebelo

um.. I think she meant, what we as adults/ teens can do for ourselves and help facilitate in children.

Ishita dharwal

There are a lot of factors which we actually aren’t able to see more clearly or we neglect those but a really good content and well presented, hope to see more of these !

P Abigail Sadhana Rao

It a delicate topic that has been written well!! It is quite factual and from an awareness point of view, it is satisfying to read. Although it would have been more enlightening with more information on causes and treatment.

Pranathi Harihar

A holistic article, especially because of the experiment that you brought into the picture.

Prerna koul

your article is very detailed and focuses on a lot of subtopics. Love is an essential emotional nutrient for children that enables them to grow into psychologically healthy adults. I would have liked to read more about the role of parents in helping their kids out.

Harini Soudarmane

Very informative…also would like to know if any solutions there to overcome this type of depression. Because this lasts even if we grow up and become a teen or even adults sometimes. Thank you for this wonderful information…

Taru Dixit

This is a very well written atricle. It includes mostly all points however, it is generalised content. A case study would have made it more pleasing.

Iarisa Nongbet

Very informative. Different parenting styles do contribute to the development of a child on emotional and mental levels. It is such a delicate topic and hopefully will be of help to parents alike.

Aashna Parekh

Really great article especially the experiment you included, however I would have liked to read more about strategies used to overcome the effects of childhood emotional neglect. Keep up the good work!

Aditi

Nice and we’ll written . A good topic to be discussed . Although I feel the article could have been more elaborate and insightful. Overall a good and informative article. Good job !

Aditi

Nice and well written . A good topic to be discussed . Although I feel the article could have been more elaborate and insightful. Overall a good and informative article. Good job !

Anmol Sidhu

a very well done article, you could have maybe added the erickson theory here to give an insight on the stages.

Sreejita Sarkar

Your article was very fascinating, I learned a lot of new things. I was expecting more of the treatment and management techniques in this article. But it was very powerful and educational.

Nikita Sarma

Very informative and knowledgeable article. I would like to suggest to add signs and symptoms. Also I would like to know if these effects varies across gender.

Gayathri.M

This really sheds light on the importance of attention that must be given to infants and toddlers. In this era of busy parents and hectic lifestyles, this is an aspect that is overlooked often. The coping methods provided make it even more informative. Looking forward to reading more of your works!

Thryaksha Ashok Garla

Well written

Shruti Shashidharan

a very important topic to be discussed. more people should be aware of the impact of neglect and abuse on children as this has long lasting effects. good to see that you mentioned strategies to cope with it as it would prove useful. Great work 🙂

Niranjana

It is a sensitive issue that has been dealt with quite gracefully in this article. While I believe a lot of information has been covered, it would have been interesting to see a detailed explanation on the treatment plan for such a case.

Nirja shah

Well-written article, adding images and highlighting key points will help enhance your article. Elaborating the points on how to effectively overcome emotional neglect could help the readers gain a deeper understanding on the topic. Mentioning the term attachment theory of psychology could increase the scientific legitimacy of the content. 

Ayeman Qamri

A nice concept was chosen to write.If you can research more about it. It will be quite helpful. Loved to read it.

Khushi Thakkar

I like how factual this post is and it was a nice touch to mention the experiment but I think you could’ve added more in this post as it seemed kind of incomplete. but I liked how to wrote on a sensitive topic!

Mehal Sampat

Hey Ritu,loved that you took up this sensitive issue with poise and grace.
The famous ‘still face experiment’ breathed a new scientific life in the article!
The mention of parenting styles and parents with issues was noteworthy.

There are some point, which elaborated could have made a more wholesome article:

  1. Elaboration on types of child neglect such as physical, medical, etc.
  2. How does childhood neglect look like in adult life, an example of how the neglect manifests in his nature?
  3. How can we as society help? What are the signs to look if we feel childhood emotional neglect is taking place?
  4. How do we determine if a parent is unfit for a child’s upbringing?
  5. How do we know about subtle emotional neglect when overall, the child does not looked harmed?

Nonetheless, this article is a start of a much-needed conversation !

SUBHASHREE

In the four common parenting style, neglectful type is the worst type of parenting. The hazards of neglecting the children’s emotions is well said in this article.

Maanasa Balaji

Very well written. Loved the use of research to back up the information you were providing.

Smrithi.S

We all learn after all, good one!

Pravesh Charan Isai

There are “n” numbers of factors which affects the childhood emotional aspect. And such thing is proper parenting care.

Shubhra Vyas

Very interesting topic and well written. Maybe some more details about how a particular mental health conditions develops due to the neglect would have been more resourceful and informative. Overall glad that you wrote about such a complicated topic. Nice work!

Yamini

Emotional childhood carelessness can damage children’s emotional and self-esteem. It teaches them not to think for their feelings. This negligence can have serious and enduring effects for a lifetime. Emotional neglect therapy for children may help those who have been abused overcome the feelings of vacillation and incapacity to control their emotions. Parents should also learn to better link themselves with their children and avoid a new cycle.

Rakshana.A

Very good information

Gurleen Kaur

Great job, it’s actually an issue which is in the talks but never taken well. It’s saddening how many lives are ruined because of a poor childhood.

Taniya Singh

The topic of your article is very much important and appealing in todays world. I mean if children are not treated well emotionally what could they turn out to be as an adult would be devastating for the society. You have covered all most all the pointers plus the information is very factual. Just a suggestion if you could add a case study it would make information more understanding. Good work!!

Dharani G Sekaran

really insightful

Apeksha Sharma

Well written! I suggest writing a few more points on how to overcome it and using case studies to make it a little more relatable.

Hardeep Kaur

Very well structured and detailed. It is also relatable. The pointers you mentioned makes it very attractive and easy to understand. Keep up.

Saloni Sanjay Shinde

I like the points, that you have mentioned the strategies and common effects which actually helps you to understand this topic in a better way.
I am a little unsure if a child would be able to comprehend and apply these. please guide me. Thank you.

Trisha Baunthiyal

A well structured article butadding the causes, symptoms and treatments would have made it more informative.

Anahita Sharma

The article covers a very important topic that is evident in today’s world. The information provided was very detailed and well-organised. Evidence required to support your points was given, and various aspects of the topic was also discussed The long-term effects childhood neglect can have on indivduals is a serious topic that should be understood better by everyone, so I admire your effort to further this discussion. Grammatical errors could be avoided. All in all, great work!

Vaishnavi S

This topic should be discussed more to create awareness. In this modern times the relationship between parents and child is becoming complicated. The bonding is also becoming less due to various reasons. Good parenting not only includes providing good food or clothing to child in mainly includes spending sufficient time with the child and paying attention to them. Parents should take a note of their child’s activities. Only this can save a child from getting affected by negative thoughts.
You have really explained well by taking example of an experiment. Good work.

Devashree Bhandare

Hey…a well choosen topic.. it would be great if you mentioned the possible treatments too or maybe some self help guide

Rahmath shaikali

Well written article.

Sima Saleem

Thank you for the great work. I love hole topic but the strategies were amazing.

Gajalakshmi karuna

a needed concept. written very well.

muskan grover

Even though it’s a bit delicate topic, it is written very well. this was the best article so far. you described it really well.

Good job!

Aanaida Rehman

Totally agreed…. i find it relatable keep writing more

Afreen

Growing up in a brown household , I can well relate to the causes of the topic, I hope that therapy and other factors get common around the world so everyone can look into themselves and improve their lives and the lives of everyone around them

Giridhar Balasubramaniam

An insightful article. Neglect of any kind at any age proves to be difficult. Though a child cant be aware of his circumstances, the caretakers should be aware.

Reema Adhikary

Overall the article is really informative but I would say if you can suggest something useful to the parents as well, ’cause I don’t think kids would be able to self monitor or practice anything like that… It’s quite difficult! You did a great job, keep writing more

Tanvi

The article was very informative and very helpful. I would really like to know more interventions ,also is not that children who have a rough childhood can completely be fine in their adulthood? The article was super super fun to read.

Karishma Borah

You have shed light into a very important and delicate issue . Really glad to go through it.

Riya Arya

For children, affectional neglect may have devastating consequences, including failure to thrive, developmental delay, hyperactivity, aggression, depression, low self-esteem, running away from home, substance abuse, and a host of other emotional disorders. These children feel unloved and unwanted…

Its awesome article, and covering all aspects of life…