Are neglected children aware of neglect?

Child Neglect: Importance, Consequences, and Advice Centers

What do children need for stable development?

So that children can develop healthily and are emotionally stable, the basic needs must be met. However, these relate not only to food and clothing, but above all to physical closeness, affection and security.

How does neglect affect children?

Unfortunately, emotional or physical neglect of children does not only affect childhood, but also affects all of life. In addition to poorer schooling, these children often develop attachment disorders.

What can children or relatives do about neglect?

Other people should be taken with confidence, in some cases the break with the family has to take place in order to be able to live their own life and no child should hesitate to turn to counseling centers or the youth welfare office.

From birth, every child is in a dependent relationship with its parents. Every child is dependent on help from adults to meet their basic needs. Unfortunately, not all parents take this task seriously, partly because they are overwhelmed and partly for much more selfish motives. In our article you will find out what forms of neglect there are in children and to what extent this Consequences for further development Has.

Table of Contents

1. Children need love and security

Children have to feel safe.

So that children can develop healthily and are emotionally stable, the basic needs must be met. However, these relate not only to food and clothing, but above all to physical closeness, affection, and security.

Both the physical and mental development of a child depend crucially on its own parents. Especially during the first few months of life, children build up a basic level of trust in their parents.

However, this has to be confirmed again and again in the course of childhood. Love in this context means that it is unconditional and applies at all times. If-then-sentences should be used in the context of education only for encouragement and not in relation to what is taken for granted.

That's the way it is no problem promising an ice cream to a child as soon as they have done their homework. Conversely, however, this simple demand quickly becomes a kind of emotional blackmail when it is linked to feelings about a child.
The sentence "If you don't do your homework now, I won't love you anymore", triggers fear and insecurity in childrenso that there is usually hardly any more homework to think about.

As you can see from this simple example, is Emotional violence is not only extremely harmful to the relationship with a child, but often does not even lead to the desired result.

2. Child neglect occurs on different levels

If a child is obviously neglected so that other people can notice, this is usually noticeable through bruises or an unkempt overall impression. Some children don't get enough to eat, don't have the opportunity to shower, or simply no one cares about when they go to bed or whether they brush their teeth.

In addition to this form of neglect, there is also the emotional neglect, which is often much more subtle, but can also have drastic consequences.

2.1. Recognize physical neglect in children

Parents provide their child with basic services Food and liquid not sure, not only is the physical well-being disturbed, but sometimes life is in danger.

No child should go hungry.

The area of ​​physical neglect includes the following areas:

  • lack of personal hygiene (dirty fingernails, unwashed hair, dirty clothes, unpleasant body odor)
  • inappropriate clothing (no warm clothes in winter)
  • lack of necessary doctor visits and a lack of preventive medical check-ups (mostly associated with common illnesses)

While some factors like Underweight and dirty clothes are relatively obvious signs of child neglect, some children need a closer look:

  • Physical development delays,
  • unusual posture
  • as well as motor deficits

can also indicate that a child is being physically neglected.

2.2. Emotional neglect - this is how psychological violence manifests itself

In some cases, the emotional neglect only affects one parent.

A lack of love in childhood and a disdain for oneself often result in children having very weak self-confidence. For a long time, however, the area of ​​emotional violence was given less importance because it is difficult to measure.

Depending on the upbringing, there are more or less strict rules, so that the transition between borderline upbringing and emotional neglect is fluid.

Violence on a psychological level manifests itself very differently, but in almost every case it leaves deep scars on the sensitive soul of a child.

The following points are typical for emotional neglect of children:

Often children are put down with words.

  • There is little or no time available for the children.
  • There is a violation of the duty of supervision.
  • Children are deliberately ignored.
  • The children become socially isolated.
  • Punishments are consciously used as a means of education to exercise control.
  • Criticism is not factually based, but rather doubts the child's self-worth.
  • Children are consciously emotionally blackmailed (physical closeness only occurs when certain behavior is shown).
  • Lack of praise for own achievements
  • Demanding special gratitude for things that go without saying ("Be glad that you get something to eat!")
  • Open hostility or disdain for children (lack of love)

This list could be continued almost indefinitely. It is therefore important that parents always reflect on themselves in order to limit unintended behavior. In deliberately exercised cases of emotional neglect of children, however, this can Intervention by the authorities helpful be.

Tip: Affected parents who are no longer in control of themselves can learn to regain control through therapy. It's never too late to take the chance.

You can see more useful information with a little personal background in this video:

2.3. Recognize emotionally neglected children

Regardless of whether children show signs of physical or mental impairment, you should not hesitate to take a closer look and, if necessary, notify the youth welfare office or another suitable facility.

Neglect among children often leads to excessive demands at school.

In a first step, however, it makes sense to contact an affected child and offer direct help. In some cases it is perfectly reasonable to point out certain behavior to the child's parents.
This can, but does not have to be, promising. It is therefore best to rely on your gut feeling at this point.

Many children who are emotionally neglected have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Problems in dealing with other children
  • aggressive behaviors
  • more frequent withdrawal from groups of children
  • Hyperactivity and restlessness
  • apathetic behavior
  • evasive behavior in response to specific inquiries
  • Concentration problems and learning difficulties

3. The consequences of psychological and physical neglect for children are grave

Often neglected children withdraw.

Unfortunately, emotional or physical neglect of children does not only affect childhood, but also affects all of life.

Many children have massive problems at school. Difficulty concentrating and language problems often lead to a significantly poorer education. This is usually exacerbated by the fact that children are subjected to emotional abuse lack of self-esteem and experience little or no sense of achievement.

In addition, they often develop serious attachment disorders, this can make it difficult for adults to find a partner too.
The difficulties with regard to the bond are sometimes expressed in a too narrow, completely absorbing attitude, in other cases in a great distance.

For children who have not experienced love, it is multiple difficult to trust other people and to get emotionally involved in new experiences.

Anxiety and panic disorders as well as depression are not infrequently observed consequences of neglected children.
To what extent the structures of the brain change as a result of traumatic experiences, you can read in this study by the University of Leipzig.

Tip: No victim of neglect should hesitate to seek out a therapist. The earlier the work-up begins, the better a disorder can be treated and the sooner you can lead a normal life.

4. Quick tips for neglected children

Every child who is the victim of physical or emotional neglect should first make themselves aware of this. In early childhood it is not always easy to recognize certain signs and to come up with appropriate strategies.

Every child and every young person deserves help.

Since there are many different forms of neglect, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. However, the following tips should help to make the situation a little more bearable or to escape from it:

  • No child is to blame for their parents' behavior, no matter what the parents say.
  • Taking other people into your confidence helps to create a little more distance from the domestic situation.
  • Own hobbies and certain places of retreat make it easier to deal with neglect.
  • In some cases the break with the family is necessary in order to be able to live one's own life.
  • No child should hesitate to contact youth counseling centers, the youth welfare office, telephone counseling or other institutions in the field of child and youth welfare.

Tip: Addresses and telephone numbers of child protection centers and other advice centers can be found here.

5. Further reading on child neglect



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Child Neglect: Importance, Consequences, and Advice Centers
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Photo credits: Satjawat / Adobe Stock, Vasyl / Adobe Stock, antic / Adobe Stock, Aliaksandr Marko / Adobe Stock, New Africa / Adobe Stock, Brian Jackson / Adobe Stock, kerkezz / Adobe Stock, fizkes / Adobe Stock (sorted by order in the article )