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Child Neglect in the Light of Psychology

Child Neglect


Children are most prone to emotional, mental, and physical abuse. Any severe trauma or incident could potentially scar a child for life. People are becoming more aware of the sensitive nature of childhood and turning to professionals like Positive Reset Mental Health Clinic to address it.


What is child neglect?

Emotional neglect, also known as psychological neglect, occurs when a parent or caregiver fails to provide the basic emotional care, attention, and affection a child needs to develop proper emotional well-being.

Emotional neglect differs from emotional abuse because it involves emotional neglect rather than direct behavior that negatively affects a child’s emotional well-being. In other words, emotional neglect is the failure to provide or withhold what is considered necessary for a child’s emotional and mental health.


Some cases of emotional neglect include:

  Refusal of physical contact with children or refusal to touch them
  Refuses to listen when the child has something important to share
  Shows no kindness or tenderness/”coldness” and is emotionally unavailable
  Not recognizing the child’s feelings and emotions



Effects of emotional neglect on children

Children who grow up in an “emotional vacuum,” whose parents are too busy, or who struggle with their emotional problems, are less likely to grow up emotionally well-rounded adults. This means they are less likely to develop effective coping mechanisms for stress, are more likely to struggle with close relationships, and suffer from deep feelings of loneliness that can last a lifetime. Children who are emotionally neglected often lack emotional satisfaction in several ways, including depression, anxiety, distress, emotional withdrawal, low self-esteem, difficulty managing stress and anger, inability to recognize other people’s feelings, and difficulty sharing their feelings.


Symptoms of child neglect

Common signs and symptoms that may require children or adolescent therapy include consistent feelings of loneliness or worthlessness, excessive attachment to people they barely know, emotional isolation from peers or parents, lack of social skills, and inability to control strong emotions such as fear or dread and anger.

Many neglected children have poor physical conditions, developmental delays, or malnutrition, which can be life-threatening in severe cases.

Observable signs of child neglect may include:

   Dirty skin
   Offensive body odor
   Unwashed, uncombed hair
   Clothing that is too small, too big, or dirty
   Clothing that does not match the weather
   Often lack of supervision


School staff easily detect neglect and recommend considering this option if a child:

   Often absent
   Steal or beg for food or money
   Necessary medical or dental care, immunizations, or glasses appear missing.
   Was dirty all the time and had bad body odor
   It seems there are not enough clothes for the weather
   Excessive use of alcohol or other drugs
   Indicates that there is no one at home to provide care


Signs of emotionally neglecting parents

Negligence may also be considered if the parent or caretaker:

   Indifference to children
   Apathy or depression
   Irrationally
   Excessive use of alcohol or other drugs
   Speaks in a cold and unfriendly tone
   Does not respond to the child’s feelings
   Turn off children’s feelings
   Do not talk too much with your child
   Spend some time with children and make them feel unwanted
   Less positive feedback or praise
   Show less love
   Show less positive social interactions
   Non-involvement and non-involvement in the child’s life
   Lack of interest in the child’s activities
   Always looking for children
   Ignoring the child’s instructions to ask for help during the problem-solving task
   Don’t encourage your child doesn’t complete a task
   The discipline of verbal aggression
   Addicted to drugs
   Showing symptoms of depression
   A little emotional neglect in their childhood

Contact the relevant authorities if you notice these symptoms in any neighbor or family member.


Long-term effects of child neglect

Research has found that neglected children are more likely than their peers to have behavioral problems, psychiatric disorders, and substance abuse or emotional problems, such as difficulty connecting with or trusting others.

For example, physically neglected children—not getting enough food or medical care—may develop developmental or long-term health problems. Children who are neglected in their early years tend to have more long-term problems than older children with similar difficulties.


Causes – Why do parents neglect their children?

Unfortunately, some parents ignore their children simply because they don’t care. But many parents who neglect their children do not do so on purpose. Researchers suggest that neglectful parenting may stem from the caregiver’s developmental history or mental health, the adults’ limited coping strategies or resources, or specific family characteristics or dynamics.

For example, many neglectful parents were neglected or abused as children and may therefore believe their parenting style is normal or expected. On the other hand, very young or inexperienced parents may not fully understand how to care for a baby or what is reasonable to expect from children at different stages of development. Circumstances that cause great stress to families, such as poverty, divorce, illness, or disability, sometimes lead to children being neglected or abused. Parents who abuse alcohol or drugs or have other mental illnesses are more likely to abuse or neglect their children.




Emotional neglect in childhood can harm a child’s self-esteem and mental health. It’s not important to tell them how they feel. The consequences of this neglect can be profound and last a lifetime.

Emotional neglect therapy can help neglected children overcome feelings of emptiness and the inability to process emotions. Also, parents can learn to get along better with their children and prevent this cycle from repeating. Contact us to learn more today.