Childhood Emotional Neglect and its Effects

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What is Childhood Emotional Neglect

Childhood emotional neglect is the failure of a caregiver to provide a child with the necessary emotional support and nurturing that the child needs. Some examples of childhood emotional neglect like active abuse, such as verbal or physical abuse, as well as passive neglect, such as failing to provide adequate food or shelter for the child.

Early childhood is a time when children’s brains are still developing and maturing, so it’s especially important that they have an environment that provides them with adequate emotional support and a safe place to explore their emotions. If this environment is not provided by caring adults, then many children will suffer from chronic anxiety disorders and depression in adulthood.

Childhood emotional neglect can have significant impacts on an adult’s life. It causes both short-term and long-term effects, including depression, addiction, codependency, and more. In this article we explore childhood emotional neglect symptoms and its effects on a person’s life in adulthood.

Signs of Childhood Emotional Neglect :

poor social life

–           Apathy, detachment from others

–           A tendency to isolate oneself from others

–           Lack of trust in others and in one’s own judgment

–           Low self esteem

–           Difficulty forming relationships with other people

These are the symptoms of childhood emotional neglect which we should identify as early as possible to avoid adverse effects.

Childhood emotional neglect in adults – an affect later in life

Research has found that people who experienced childhood emotional neglect may have a higher risk of developing depression or anxiety disorders than those who did not experience this type of childhood trauma. This is because children need positive support from their parents or guardians in order to feel safe and secure as they grow up. When this support is absent or lacking, it can lead to low self-esteem which can become associated with negative thought patterns over time (e.g., “I’m not good enough”).

People who have been emotionally neglected often struggle with trust issues later on in life because they don’t believe anyone will take care of them properly; this makes it difficult for people who were neglected as children when trying to form new relationships later on down the road!

Adulthood isolation

This can result in a lack of support and companionship during adulthood. Some of the ways this manifests is by:

  • Isolating yourself from others.
  • Not having a support network (friends, family members).
  • Not having a partner or children.

This also shows itself in other areas of life such as:

  • Lack of social life or hobbies (no one to go out with)
  • Having a job but not really enjoying it because work is just another place where you feel cut off from others


You may feel that you are the only one who has been affected by emotional neglect. That’s not true. Depression is a common symptom of childhood emotional neglect, but it can often be treated and prevented. Depression should not be taken lightly; it is a serious condition that requires professional help.

Don’t assume that your depression is just part of being an adult or part of growing up—it could be a sign of childhood emotional neglect!

Self-esteem issues.

  • Self-esteem issues. As a child, your emotional needs weren’t met and you learned that you weren’t worth the energy or attention of others. As an adult, this can lead to low self-esteem and self-doubt. You may struggle with making decisions because it’s difficult for you to trust your intuition; instead, you give more power than necessary to what other people think about or want from you.
  • Being overly critical of yourself and others: If your parents were emotionally unavailable in childhood, it’s likely that as an adult any criticism from them would feel like an attack on who are—rather than an opportunity for growth—which can cause you to feel like no one deserves love or happiness except yourself (and maybe not even then).

Chronic anger and resentment.

Anger is a natural emotion that all humans experience. In fact, it’s often seen as a sign of maturity and independence to express anger appropriately in situations where others might be angry. However, chronic anger can also be indicative of deeper problems like low self-esteem or depression—or even childhood emotional neglect (CEN).

If you grew up in an environment where your needs weren’t met or there was never any time for you, you may have developed feelings of resentment towards those who had the things that you lacked. This resentment can linger into adulthood and manifest itself as chronic anger issues.


  • Alcohol and drugs. When you were a child, you may have been neglected and abused by someone who was also an addict. You may have grown up in an environment where drugs and alcohol were used regularly, and this could lead to an addiction for you as well.
  • If your parents lost money gambling or played a lot of poker with their friends when you were growing up, it’s likely that you will have picked up these behaviors as well. When people gamble excessively, they can become addicted to the thrill of winning big or the relief of losing everything—both feelings are addictive for some people (although different for each person). These feelings are especially powerful if they take place around regular family events like birthdays or holidays when we should be celebrating together but instead spend time alone at home because our loved ones would rather play cards than spend time together.


If you grew up with emotional neglect, you might be codependent. Codependency is a learned behavior that develops in childhood to cope with an emotionally abusive or unavailable parent. You see, codependent people have learned to fall in love and attach to people who are emotionally unavailable or abusive because they don’t know any better. They often feel like they can’t live without their partner because they’ve never experienced real love themselves; so when the relationship ends (because it will eventually), they will feel like they’re dying inside without their significant other by their side.

  • Emotional neglect is a form of childhood trauma.
  • Childhood emotional neglect affects your relationships and health as an adult.
  • It also has a huge impact on your career and life choices as an adult.

Ways of overcome childhood emotional neglect healing.

Childhood emotional neglect can be devastating, but it doesn’t have to stay with you throughout your life. Lets have a look how to heal childhood emotional neglect:

  • Talking about your experience with a trusted friend or family member
  • Seeking professional counseling
  • Joining an online support group
  • Taking up a hobby that gets your mind off things and makes you feel good (e.g., painting, yoga)

In order to overcome the issue, it’s important to seek help from a childhood emotional neglect therapist. A therapist can help you identify and process your emotions. You shouldn’t be hard on yourself or ashamed of the past or afraid to ask for help from loved ones or other professionals in the future.


Its very surprising that how common is childhood emotional neglect. It is a form of emotional abuse that can lead to many issues in adulthood. It’s important to be aware of its effects and seek help if you or someone you know has experienced it.



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