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Emotional neglect is a chronic failure by the caretaker to provide the child with the support and affection necessary to develop a sound and healthy personality. When a child is emotionally neglected, he or she is being hurt by what is not there.
Emotional neglect may include:
- Habitual lack of attention, affection, emotional support or supervision
- Refusal of treatment or services recommended by school or medical personnel
- Punishing indiscriminately without teaching right from wrong
- No "family time" for shared social experiences such as meals, discussions about feelings or family outings
- Showing no interest in a child's schoolwork, grades, hobbies or friends
- Lack of supervision with no established expectations for behavior
Emotional abuse is a chronic attitude or act of a caretaker that is detrimental to the child's development of a sound and healthy personality. Emotional abuse is often expressed in verbal abuse, making a child feel that he or she is worthless and unworthy of attention and love.
Emotional abuse may include:
- Verbal threats of bodily harm
- Mis-socialization of a child into harmful behaviors such as lying or stealing
- Demeaning a child with comments such as "you're stupid," "you're no good," "you're ugly," or "I hate you"
Effects of Emotional Maltreatment
- Low self esteem
- Difficulty in forming positive relationships
- Defiant behavior
- Inability to trust
- Poorly developed ability to empathize with others
- Elimination disorders
- Speech disorders
- Eating disorders
- Derives pleasure from hurting others
- Suicide attempts
What Can We Do To Prevent Emotional Maltreatment?
- Teach parents and caregivers to set limits, communicate directions and provide structure for children and youth with loving, rather than hurting, words.
- Tell children and youth that they are special, important, lovable, likeable and talented.
- Provide support and education to parents and caregivers who are adult supervisors of maltreatment to help break the cycle of abuse.