Was I Neglected As a Child?

Amy Pfeffer

April 11, 2023

Growing up in a family where you are neglected emotionally can have a lasting impact on your life. It may make it difficult for you to build relationships with others and can affect your sense of self-worth and happiness.

Recognizing that you have experienced emotional neglect can be an important part of your healing process. Talking to a mental health professional about the impacts can help you safely unpack these experiences and heal.

What is Neglect?

Neglect is a serious form of abuse that can negatively impact a child’s development. It usually begins with a parent being unable to meet a child’s basic needs, such as food, clothing, shelter, or health care.

It can also happen when a parent fails to give a child the love, affection, or attention they need to thrive. Some parents struggle to meet these emotional needs due to mental illness or drug use.

Neglect can be harder to detect than physical, but it’s still worth checking with authorities if you suspect something is wrong. Your intervention could save a child from further harm and connect them to the services and support they need.

How Does Neglect Make You Feel?

Neglect can make you feel disconnected, unfulfilled, and empty. It can also make it difficult to express your emotions.

Survivors of childhood emotional neglect often struggle to trust their feelings and believe that they can open up and talk about them with others. They may have to work hard to overcome years of programming, telling them their emotions are wrong and need to be “tougher.”

Sometimes, a parent may not be aware that they aren’t meeting a child’s emotional needs. They might brush off a child’s cry for attention as a childhood game, or they may not provide physical affection.

Emotional neglect can have devastating consequences for children and adolescents, including depression, anxiety, poor academic performance, substance abuse, suicide attempts, and more. These effects can carry into adulthood. Fortunately, the impact of childhood neglect can be treated with help from a therapist.

What Are the Symptoms of Neglect?

Children can show signs of neglect in many different ways. They can be sick and unable to focus at school, have difficulty connecting with others, or feel like their voice is being ignored.

Neglect can also be a symptom of other issues, such as mental health disorders or substance abuse. Abuse often has more obvious symptoms, but emotional neglect can be difficult to recognize.

Emotional neglect can affect a child’s self-esteem, confidence, and ability to trust others. It can also affect their relationships, social skills, and emotional development.

It can also be a symptom of other problems, such as a family history of child abuse or ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences). If you believe you were neglected as a child, you should talk to a professional as soon as possible. The right treatment can help you heal and thrive as an adult. You can learn how to nurture your emotions to be healthy and strong with treatment.

How Can I Help?

Children who grow up with abuse and neglect often require help to heal. Fortunately, healing is possible and involves learning new skills and building confidence and resilience.

One common form of neglect is emotional neglect, which means a parent doesn’t respond to a child’s emotional needs. That’s especially true for highly sensitive children.

If you think a child may have been neglected, it’s important to make a report as soon as you can. This will increase the chances that a family will get the care and resources they need to thrive.

Often, the symptoms of childhood neglect are visible, like a child who is underweight or doesn’t attend school. But you can also notice subtle signs that a child is being neglected.