The Lasting Emotional Effects of Child Neglect

Dec 24, 2009 No Comments by

As basic emotional needs are overlooked, child neglect creates obstacles to healthy development in children. Child neglect can lead to poor coping skills, low self esteem, depression and trauma symptoms in adult survivors, as the buried pain of fending for oneself grows over time. For those recovering from drug or alcohol abuse, confronting the effects of child neglect in individualized therapy can begin to bring the emotional healing they need.

The Lasting Emotional Effects of Child Neglect

Child neglect often isn’t confined to a single instance. Instead, the lasting emotional effects of child neglect tend to worsen over time, as prolonged neglect creates emotional trauma. Children who have experienced neglect often have not received the emotional support, demonstrations of love, healthy boundaries and parental involvement they need both in their lives and development.

Adult survivors of emotional neglect encounter problems such as learning and attention disorders, as well as mood disorders such as those related to depression or anxiety. Additionally, social relationships can become increasingly difficult, due to lack of trust, absent rolemodeling, and underdeveloped communication skills. Other survivors of child neglect encounter control issues, due to their experience of having to fend for themselves for so long. Low self-esteem has been linked to child neglect, leading to social isolation due to a deep-seated fear of rejection. Negative self beliefs also need to be healed, as many adult survivors of childhood neglect understood absentee or withholding parents in the context of their own identity—making it hard to believe that the child neglect they suffered wasn’t their fault.

Additionally, survivors of child neglect may find themselves with trouble in academic and career pursuits. The combination of a lack of parental involvement and stress-related issues may lead to cognitive problems. Furthermore, emotionally absent parents may overlook other forms of childhood trauma and pain that tend to co-occur with the emotional neglect of a child. In many of these instances, unnoticed and untreated childhood trauma leads adult survivors to bury the pain in alcohol or drug dependency. Through effective therapy conducted in inpatient drug and alcohol rehab, these survivors can learn better coping skills and correct negative self beliefs that lie at the root of their addictions.


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