Emotional Neglect In Childhood: How Does It Affect Relationships?

Every child has basic emotional needs that should be fulfilled by their parents or caregivers. If that is not the case, the child may grow up carrying a deep emotional wound within them that might adversely affect their self-esteem and relationships later on in life. 

Emotional neglect comes in many shapes and forms that can have varying effects on your adult life. For instance, you may struggle with emotional intimacy issues, intense fear of abandonment, or have trouble dealing with rejection in your relationships because of the attachment patterns you’ve known since childhood. 

No matter what your core emotional wound may be, remember that you can heal and have healthy and happy relationships in your life. All it takes is a little bit of self-reflection and a lot of patience. Read on to learn more about emotional neglect and you can overcome it. 

What Are The 4 Types Of Neglect?

What Is Considered Emotional Neglect?

Although childhood neglect covers a wide range of behaviors, there are four main types you may be able to recognize. These are: 

  • Physical neglect: this type of neglect occurs when the parent or caregiver fails to provide the child with basic care and necessities, like clothing, shelter, and food. It may also include leaving your children alone for long time periods. 
  • Emotional neglect: a child who is emotionally neglected may feel rejected, ignored, isolated, or threatened by their caregivers or parents. The child may be denied attention, support, or another form of emotional care they need to live a fulfilling life. 
  • Educational neglect: some parents don’t give their children adequate educational opportunities, They may stop the child from going to school, insist on homeschooling them but failing to do so, and so on. 
  • Medical neglect: this form of neglect happens when the parent fails to provide proper healthcare for the child, despite being financially or circumstantially able to do so. This can lead to the child experiencing serious health issues, both in childhood and later in life. 

What Is Considered Emotional Neglect?

In a nutshell, emotional neglect happens when a child’s parents or caregivers fail to meet the child’s basic emotional needs. While the effects of emotional neglect can overlap with the effects of emotional abuse, these two terms are not interchangeable. 

The main difference here is that emotional abuse tends to be intentional, while neglect does not have to be. For instance, a parent may fail to notice and respond to some of their child’s emotional needs, while being able to provide other forms of support. 

What Causes Emotional Neglect?

Unfortunately, many parents and caregivers are unable to provide their children with adequate care because of their own emotional or psychological issues. If you feel like you have been the victim of emotional neglect, know that your parents may have tried their best to meet your emotional needs, but they failed because they simply didn’t know better. 

Nevertheless, knowing why emotional neglect happened may help you heal from it and create healthier relationships in your adult life, as well as be a better parent to your own children. 

How Does Emotional Neglect Affect Relationships?

Emotional neglect in childhood can have a lasting impact on your emotional wellbeing. In fact, the effects of emotional neglect can linger for the majority of your life, preventing you from forming secure attachments and relating to others in a healthy way. Here are some common effects of emotional neglect on relationships: 

  1. Decreased awareness of your own emotional needs and feelings.

    You may struggle to define your own wishes and emotions and find it hard to set healthy boundaries in your relationships. 

  2. You might feel less valuable than other people.

    Emotional neglect can severely damage your self-esteem, leaving you with a sense of inferiority and decreased importance. 

  3. Your ability to share your thoughts and feelings may be hindered.

    If you have trouble building emotional intimacy with your partners, you may have some unresolved issues stemming from emotional neglect. 

  4. Difficulties accepting and asking for help.

    When you feel like your needs are less important than those of other people, you might feel like you don’t deserve help and support when you’re feeling down in the dumps.

  5. Deep insecurities, fears, and inhibitions.

    Emotional neglect can make you feel unlovable and unworthy, causing you to exhibit a wide range of damaging behaviors and emotions, such as extreme jealousy, shyness, or constant feelings of loneliness.

How Do You Deal With Emotional Neglect?

However pervasive or damaging the effects of your emotional neglect may be, know that you can overcome your emotional wounds and create healthier relationships. Here are some helpful tips: 

Work on accepting yourself for who you are

If you’ve been told that you’re overly sensitive, or feel like you don’t belong anywhere, try reflecting on why that is so and how it has impacted your life. There is nothing wrong with you – keep that in mind. 

Understand that you are not your parents

Just because your parents failed to meet your emotional needs, that doesn’t mean that you will do the same thing. Realize that you are the only one who gets to choose the course of your life. 

Remember that your needs and wishes matter

You are just as important as other people in your life. You can increase your sense of importance by being more honest about your wishes and creating healthier boundaries in your relationships. 

Try to forgive your parents or caregivers

Remember that your parents might have struggled with their own emotional wounds while they were raising you. Recognize the effects their behaviors had on you, but try not to be bitter or overly angry. 

Seek help from professionals

There’s no shame in asking for help when you are feeling overwhelmed with the effects of emotional neglect. Professional intimacy coaches can give you the tools you need to heal your wounds and bounce back from neglect. 

PIVOT Emotional Intimacy Coaching: Your Key To A Happy Life

What Causes Emotional Neglect?

Are you ready to start working on your emotional wellbeing and creating better relationships? Let the insightful PIVOT advocates help. We are here to offer you the resources and tools you need to overcome emotional neglect and realize your vast potential. 

Our expert emotional intimacy coaching and intensive workshops are designed to help you heal from emotional neglect and abuse and facilitate positive behavioral change. Contact PIVOT today and make the best decision for your emotional health.