This article introduces a concept that describes when something very important is missing in childhood and how it affects adult wellbeing. Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN) is the feeling that a child does not receive enough emotional support from their parents. This subtle and often invisible childhood experience happens when parents do not notice or react to feelings enough.
Emotional abuse (psychological abuse) occurs when adults who care for children threaten, lay down or reject children and young people because the child feels bad or worthless. This includes not expressing or showing love and affection, not doing or doing anything that is not done, and other forms of abuse.
The definition of child neglect is when a parent fails to provide sufficient emotional, physical or financial support to their child. In other words, emotional neglect refers to something that is not foreseen or withheld, that is deemed necessary for the emotional or mental health of the child. Neglect (emotional abuse) of children is a condition in which a caregiver fails to care for a child in a way that could cause harm to his or her mental or physical health or emotional well-being. Neglect or child abuse (psychological abuse) is the condition when parents or carers allow children to be harmed by a lack of interaction, either intentionally or negligently.
For HSP children, emotional neglect means that they never see healthy feedback, and the lack of emotional response often does not look unhealthy at all. Parents may care a lot about their children overall, but parents who ignore their children or choose not to contact them can cause many difficult feelings. Fortunately, recognizing the symptoms and signs of neglect of children can help parents and guardians improve their child’s life by recognizing where they may be neglected.
A clear understanding of what children can cope with at a certain age helps to avoid frustration, anger and normal behaviour. Adults with emotional neglect in childhood can speak out against children by causing tantrums, verbalizing or in situations that trigger strong emotions. One of the steps adults can take who neglect their child is to learn to accept that they are neglected and stop being so harsh on them.
In most cases, parents who are emotionally neglected as children do not realize that they are not deliberately neglecting their children. Parents can be blind to how their actions affect their children and children are hurt because they feel broken and unwelcome. Children who stop talking often wonder what they have done wrong, whether their parents have done it wrong or whether they hate their child.
While some parents deliberately ignore their children’s emotions, others may overlook or fail to respond to their child’s emotional needs. Some may have experienced emotional neglect as children and therefore have little to give emotionally.
Mentally ill or traumatised parents can be deprived of their children and cannot understand why. If a parent or child has abused alcohol or other drugs, they may be neglecting their child, but this neglect may not be entirely unintentional, because the young parent does not understand the basics of child development.
Children raised by a non-involved parent may have difficulty connecting with their caregivers later in life because of a lack of bonding. Adult children who are ignored by their parents can cause a lot of anger and resentment among their relatives. Children who are neglected may have difficulty interacting with other children. This carries on into adulthood, affecting the ability to form healthy relationships with others in adulthood.
People who are emotionally neglected as children grow up to become adults who have to cope with the consequences. Emotional neglect in childhood may not leave scars, but it can do real harm when the child grows up. Ignoring a child’s needs, putting them in unsupervised or dangerous situations, exposing them to sexual situations, or making them feel worthless or stupid is also a form of child abuse or neglect. If you cannot point to a particular behaviour of a parent or partner that makes you unloved or affects your self-esteem, it can affect your child as an adult. Failure to react appropriately or in time, to appear or to be noticed can leave deep and permanent scars on your child.
A child is neglected because their parents or carers do not have sufficient resources to meet their needs. If they are deprived of the resources they need, the parents who neglect the child are responsible for the needs of their own child, as well as for the care and resources needed.
A child who is constantly ignored, rejected, threatened or belittled grows into a child that everyone needs to overcome difficult times. Often neglected children do not realize that they are neglected at this time and can internalize the pain and think that it is their fault. A child really does not understand or feel dazed when he does or says something hurtful. If the child is ignored or goes unnoticed, the child reacts with the feeling that it is unimportant, wrong and unacceptable.