how to get over childhood emotional neglect

How to Heal From Childhood Emotional Neglect

Childhood emotional neglect can be a complex issue to deal with, but it’s important to address it in order to move forward from the past and form healthy relationships. In this article, we will discuss what emotional neglect is, how it impacts adult relationships, and what steps you can take to heal from it.

Definition of Emotional Neglect

Emotional neglect is the failure of caregivers to meet the emotional and psychological needs of their children. This means that the child’s emotions are ignored, invalidated or dismissed. It’s important to note that emotional neglect is often unintentional, and not necessarily due to malicious intent. However, it can still have serious consequences for children as they grow up.

Why It’s Important To Heal From Childhood Emotional Neglect

Childhood emotional neglect can have a profound impact on your overall well-being as an adult. Growing up feeling emotionally unsupported can lead to feelings of loneliness, disconnection, and low self-esteem. These feelings can interfere with your ability to form healthy relationships and may lead to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

How Parents Can Unintentionally Emotionally Neglect Their Children

Parents may not even realize that they are emotionally neglecting their children. It is often a result of their own experiences in childhood where they were never taught how to express their emotions or recognize them in others. Here are some common ways parents may unintentionally emotionally neglect their children:

  • Not showing affection or being physically distant
  • Avoiding conversations about emotions
  • Using harsh criticism or judgment when the child expresses emotions

Signs and Symptoms of Childhood Emotional Neglect

If you experienced childhood emotional neglect, you might find that you struggle with certain things as an adult. Here are some common signs and symptoms:

  • Emotional numbness or disconnection
  • Low self-esteem or self-worth
  • Feeling empty or hollow inside
  • Inability to identify emotions in oneself
  • Self-blame or self-criticism
  • Difficulty setting boundaries

The Impact of Childhood Emotional Neglect on Adult Relationships

Childhood emotional neglect can have a serious impact on your ability to form healthy relationships as an adult. Here are some common issues:

  • Difficulty forming healthy attachments
  • Fear of vulnerability and intimacy
  • Unhealthy patterns in romantic relationships (e.g. becoming clingy, avoiding commitment)
  • Struggling with communication and trust in relationships

Steps for Healing From Childhood Emotional Neglect

If you experienced childhood emotional neglect, there are things you can do to heal from it. Here are some steps:

Acknowledge and Accept Painful Emotions

The first step to healing is acknowledging the pain and difficulty that comes with childhood emotional neglect. This can be a challenging process, but it’s important to allow yourself to feel difficult emotions such as sadness and anger.

  • Recognizing the impact of childhood emotional neglect on current behaviors and emotions.
  • Allowing oneself to feel and express difficult emotions.
  • Practicing self-care and compassion.

Learning About Emotions

Identifying and understanding your emotions is an essential part of healing.

  • Identifying different emotions.
  • Understanding how they work within oneself and in relationships.
  • Developing emotional literacy skills.

Building Supportive Relationships

Seeking out supportive relationships is essential for healing from childhood emotional neglect. It’s important to find people who can support your growth.

  • Finding people who can support your emotional growth.
  • Being vulnerable and open with trusted friends/ family members/ therapist.

Setting Healthy Boundaries

Learning to set healthy boundaries is important for protecting yourself from further emotional harm.

  • Recognizing personal needs.
  • Communicating those needs effectively.

Cultivating Future Growth

Creating realistic goals and learning resilience through challenges will help you in moving forward.

  • Creating realistic future goals.
  • Finding resilience through challenges.

Self-Help Strategies for Healing From Childhood Emotional Neglect

Here are some self-help strategies that you may find useful:

Meditation for Emotional Renewal

Meditation is an effective way to help calm the mind, reduce anxiety, and promote emotional well-being. Basic techniques include deep breathing, body scan, mindful walk, mindful eating, etc.

Writing Therapy

Writing therapy involves writing about your feelings and experiences as a therapeutic tool. This can help to clarify your thoughts and emotions, identify patterns of behavior, and process trauma in a safe setting.

Moving Forward with Mindfulness

Mindfulness practices such as deep breathing exercises, body scans or steps outside your home or office to be with nature for a while are all great ways to slow down the racing mind, tune into the present moment and get more grounded.


Childhood emotional neglect can have serious implications for your mental and emotional well-being as an adult. While healing can be challenging, it is possible. By acknowledging and working through the pain of emotional neglect, learning about emotions and seeking out supportive relationships it’s possible to heal and grow. Ultimately, prioritizing your own emotional well-being is an important part of living a fulfilling life.

7 FAQs on How to Get Over Childhood Emotional Neglect

What is childhood emotional neglect?

Childhood emotional neglect refers to the failure of parents or caregivers to provide the emotional support and attention that a child needs during their formative years. This may include neglecting a child’s emotional needs by not showing affection or failing to acknowledge their feelings.

How does childhood emotional neglect affect adults?

Adults who experienced childhood emotional neglect may struggle with low self-esteem, difficulty forming relationships, and a lack of trust in others. They might also experience anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues as a result of feeling emotionally unfulfilled.

What are some signs that you experienced childhood emotional neglect?

  • Feeling like you were invisible or ignored by your family
  • Having difficulty expressing your feelings
  • Struggling with low self-worth or confidence
  • Feeling disconnected from your emotions or unable to identify them
  • Finding it hard to form close relationships with others

How can you start healing from childhood emotional neglect?

  • Name It: Recognize and acknowledge that the experiences you had in childhood impacted you.
  • Talk About It: Share your experiences with a trusted person who will listen without judgment.
  • Validate Yourself: Acknowledge the validity of your feelings and experiences without relying on external validation.
  • Surround Yourself: Seek out supports such as therapy, support groups, or other mental health resources.

Can therapy help with childhood emotional neglect?

Yes, therapy can be effective in helping individuals who experienced childhood emotional neglect. A qualified therapist can help you identify the ways that your experiences have impacted you and work with you to develop coping strategies and build resilience.

What role do boundaries play in healing from childhood emotional neglect?

Setting healthy boundaries is an essential part of healing from childhood emotional neglect. Boundaries are about defining your limits and communicating them clearly to others. They can help you develop self-respect, improve relationships, and prioritize your needs.

Is it possible to fully recover from childhood emotional neglect?

Recovery from childhood emotional neglect is a journey, and everyone’s experience is unique. While you may not be able to erase the impact of past experiences entirely, it is possible to heal and make progress towards a happier, healthier life.

keys takeaways

4 Key Takeaways to Get Over Childhood Emotional Neglect

  1. Acknowledge the Neglect: Recognize the signs of emotional neglect and how it has influenced your life.
  2. Validate Your Emotions: Accept that your emotions are real and justified, and allow yourself to feel them fully.
  3. Reparent Yourself: Give yourself the love and care you needed but didn’t receive as a child. Learn how to set boundaries, communicate effectively, and prioritize your needs.
  4. Find Support: Seek out therapy, support groups, or trusted friends and family members who can provide empathy, validation, and encouragement on your healing journey.

Overcoming childhood emotional neglect is a challenging but rewarding process. By acknowledging the neglect, validating your emotions, reparenting yourself, and finding support from others, you can begin to heal past wounds and build a brighter future.