Child emotional neglect or CEN happens when parents don’t respond to your emotions appropriately throughout childhood. This tends to go unnoticed until the effects of CEN plague you in adulthood.
But there’s a way to turn this scarring around.
With the following tips including a Child Emotional Neglect Test, you can recover from CEN at last.
Let’s dive right in!
How To Heal From Childhood Emotional Neglect
Childhood emotional neglect is a tough ordeal to go through but like everything else, you don’t need to remain a victim. What you need right now is change.
So with that out, let’s get started.
1. Take The Childhood Emotional Neglect Test
Still wondering if you truly experienced emotional neglect?
If you’re doubtful, a childhood emotional neglect test is the first thing to do. It’ll help you move forward to the other recovery tips with enough acceptance and zeal to produce results.
You can take this Emotional Neglect Questionnaire created by Dr. Jonice Webb to get your verdict.
2. Visualize How Emotional Neglect Happened In Your Family
Go to a quiet place and picture your childhood home in all its aspects and watch how your parents dealt with not only your emotions but also those of your siblings.
- In what way did your parents neglect your feelings?
- Did your parents ignore you or scold you for being emotional?
- What type of emotions did your parents especially neglect?
- Which topics were not welcome to talk about with your parents?
3. Acknowledge The Effects Of CEN In Your Family And On You
Childhood emotional neglect tends to have subtle effects only noticeable when one traces adulthood behavioral patterns to its roots.
So what CEN effects have your family suffered so far? And what things can you point out in your adult life that happened as a result of CEN?
Knowing this is what helps you go into the fixing process well prepared.
4. Accept That Your Emotional Self Is Blocked But You Can Get It Back
Maybe you’ve brought yourself to think that you’re not as emotional as other humans. Perhaps you escape tough feelings with numbing experiences such as overeating, drinking, and smoking among other escapes.
Whatever the case, you need to now accept that your emotions have been walled off for so long but you can get them back to process them effectively. That no matter how long your emotional needs haven’t been met, you can still meet them now.
5. Accept Your Need To Experience And Deal With Emotions
One thing you need to understand most is that you cannot move from childhood emotional neglect to a healthy emotional being without knowing your need for renewed emotional experience.
- You need to accept that you haven’t processed your emotions properly your whole life because you were never taught how to do it, to begin with
- You also need to accept that you need to learn a new way of experiencing your emotions that’s in line with psychological truth
- And lastly, you must accept your need to deal with those emotions in a healthy way
6. Pay Attention To Your Emotions
You need to start observing your emotions, identifying them and their source. This helps you trace them back to beliefs that you’ve long held since childhood and therefore helps realign your beliefs with the truth.
7. Validate Your Emotions
Were you told by your parents or guardians stuff like:
- “You don’t really feel that way”
- “You’re being too dramatic”
- “You shouldn’t feel that way”
- “It isn’t as bad as you put it”
- “That’s not worth getting angry about”
If you relate to these statements, you suffered invalidation which makes you doubt whether you feel what you’re “supposed” to feel.
But for you to cope with feelings well, you must validate them. Telling yourself statements like these would help you properly validate your emotions:
- “You feel X and that’s okay”
- “It’s okay to feel the way I feel”
8. Understand You Deserve Your Needs To Be Met
If you grew up with childhood emotional neglect, you probably believed that your emotional needs don’t deserve to be met by anyone since even your caregivers didn’t bother.
But you’re wrong.
Even if your parents didn’t know how to meet your needs, your needs still deserve to be met and you should therefore not walk around feeling undeserving of such normal treatment.
9. Express Your Needs
Since your needs were neglected, you might have given up on asking people to meet them. So you try to work everything on your own even believing that you’re just a naturally independent person.
However, so that you can get over the false beliefs reinforced by CEN and start collaborating with others to meet your needs, you need to practice expressing your needs.
Something as simple as, “I’d really love it when you remember and do something special for my birthday. That’s one of the things that makes me feel loved” can help your partner know how to meet your emotional needs.
10. Practice Asking For Help
For many who’ve experienced emotional neglect as kids, asking for help may seem like weakness. So you might have been shamed in your childhood for asking for help perhaps in the form of emotional support.
However, to recover from CEN, you need to stop trying to fix everything on your own and start asking for helping hands who’d be willing to tend to your emotional wounds among other things.
11. Practice Strong Emotional Tolerance By Sitting Out Negative Emotions
One thing some CEN parents didn’t know is that emotional strength doesn’t come from covering emotions and looking strong. Neither can you gain it by simply escaping negative feelings.
However, you can learn to strongly manage your emotions by tolerating the discomfort they might cause you for some time while processing them.
12. Begin Intently Listening To Yourself
Start listening to your self-talk and really take note of your beliefs to discover how you view yourself and life itself.
Cultivating self-awareness would help you spot the lies of CEN running your life which helps you end them with newfound truth.
13. Apply Self-Compassion To Yourself
Many people who’ve experienced emotional neglect in their early years tend to be kind to everyone else except themselves. This is because of the toxic self-beliefs they carry from their childhood.
But you need to switch this and start being gentle to yourself. In essence:
- Talk to yourself as you’d talk to your friend.
- Deal with your emotional struggles as you would deal with your friend.
- Be patient with yourself
14. Practice Taking Care Of Your Inner Child
We all have that inner child who desires to be embraced and cared for as an emotionally present parent would their child. So:
- Identify things that make you feel peaceful and happy and do them.
- Make time to really appreciate yourself.
- Pamper and care for yourself as would love a parent to do it.
15. Learn Assertive Communication
Assertive communication involves expressing your needs in a respectful yet direct manner. This is the communication you might have never known existed since you were nurtured to act in either of these ways:
- Aggressively where you forcefully express what you want because your parents aren’t listening or,
- Suppressively where you hide your true feelings since your caregivers won’t take notice anyway
Learn how to communicate assertively despite the type of emotions you’re dealing with through this resource on assertive anger.
16. Observe And Identify Ways CEN Has Affected Your Relationships
As we mentioned earlier, childhood emotional neglect extends its effects to adulthood. You can see these effects when you observe your present relationships, especially close ones. For example:
- You feel as if you don’t belong with your family and friends
- You find it hard to ask for help
- Your loved ones complain that you’re emotionally unavailable, distant, or suchlike traits
- You’re compassionate to others but super hard on yourself
- You have a hard time identifying your likes and dislikes
With this awareness in mind, it’s easier to reverse the effects of CEN in your life.
17. Talk To Someone You Trust About Your CEN
Acknowledging your problem to someone in your life not only helps get the burden off your chest but also keeps you motivated to change with the emotional support and accountability of that person.
So find someone you can trust and talk your emotions out.
18. Start Listening To Yourself First And Last
Dealing with emotions appropriately might seem like a jungle right now but here’s a wonderful tip to help you in decision making.
- Before consulting what someone else feels about something you’re going through, ask yourself first what you feel about it.
- Research or seek advice on the issue, analyzing what you believe to be factual.
- With all that information, listen to yourself again to get the final informed decision to move forward.
Related: [13 Tips & Answers] “I Don’t Know What To Do”
19. Set And Enforce Healthy Boundaries
If you were emotionally neglected as a child, you might find it hard to identify your likes and dislikes – which leaves you with a confused sense of self and even makes it hard for other people to know how to relate with you.
However, if you learn how to set and enforce boundaries, you can become more self-aware and as a result, be understood better by others.
20. Get A Personal Counselling Professional
Parents who emotionally neglect their kids prevent them from seeking the pofessional help they need with misinformed beliefs like: that only “crazy” and “weak” people need a therapist.
But the truth is, the world’s most successful people mostly gain such abilities to be on the top through psychological help with the help of life coaches, trauma coaches, and therapists. The only way most could get past their bad childhood to reach their fullest potential was through professional psychological help.
And you too can maximize your potential by collaborating with someone.
What Does Childhood Emotional Neglect Look Like?
Childhood emotional neglect involves a parent minimizing and dismissing a child’s emotional life. The parents remain unavailable for emotional interactions with their child during the early years with some even scolding and abusing a child for being emotional. The parent ignores the child’s need for affection, attention, validation, and other kinds of positive responses.
21. How Do You Know If Your Child Is Emotionally Neglected?
You’ll know your child is emotionally neglected if they stop engaging you in emotional interactions, become distant, lose confidence, and begin escapist behaviors for their emotions. Generally, they try to cover up their emotions to cope with their feelings.
How Do You Prove Emotional Neglect? Childhood Emotional Neglect Symptoms
- Feeling out of place even with family and friends
- Desperate efforts to cover up emotions / toxic stoic attitude
- Numbing out/walling off or blocking one’s feelings
- Hard time asking for help/support/care and even reject offers of such
- Pronounced lack of self-knowledge in one’s strengths and weakness, likes and dislikes, and so forth
- Low self-esteem
- Hard time expressing emotional needs
- High sensitivity to rejection
- Minimal effort in exercising one’s full potential
- The belief that one is deeply flawed
- Hard time identifying emotions and dealing with them
- Being easily overwhelmed with emotions
22. What Is Considered Emotional Neglect Of A Child?
Childhood emotional neglect is proved when a child’s emotional or affectional needs are constantly ignored, invalidated, dismissed, and disregarded by their caregiver. The parent might dismiss emotional changes in their child as hormonal without getting to know what’s really going on.
23. Examples Of Childhood Emotional Neglect
These examples show how parents neglect the emotional needs of a child and lead the child to think their needs aren’t important.
- A child may become distant because they were sexually abused but the parent may not take notice and dismiss the child’s behavior as “growing up”
- A child may come home in distress explaining to their parents how a bully verbally and physically abused them at school but they brush it off without a word or with a careless remark like, “ It’ll all pass!”
- Instead of a parent getting interested in the mental health of their child who just changed and became demotivated about going to school, they might say, “He just doesn’t like going to school anymore”
- A child may tell their parent that they don’t like a certain relative coming to their home but the parent doesn’t even ask “why” only to discover later that that relative sexually abused their child
24. Childhood Emotional Neglect And Romantic Relationships
Childhood emotional neglect affects romantic relationships during adulthood through unmet needs since the CEN victim has a hard time asking for help, care, and support. Also, the emotionally neglected partner may feel alone despite being with a loving partner. They also seem emotionally unavailable because they shut off their feelings which can be stressful to the significant other.
It’s clear that even if your parents treated you with the best physical needs and wants like a good education and the best toys if they didn’t tend to your emotional needs, you’re a victim of emotional neglect as a child.
With a quick childhood emotional neglect test, you can confirm this and even know how it affects your adult life.
But the best part is, you can have a turnaround and gain the life you always envisioned for yourself by working with the above tips. You can move from a victim to a victor at last!
But before you go, share this piece with others to help neglected children gain back their emotional life as adults.
And, thanks for stopping by!