20 Signs of childhood neglect in adults

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What are ten telltale signs of childhood neglect? Coaches and NLP practitioners often can not tell when someone experienced childhood neglect, nor should they have to. At the same time, any person who can spot childhood neglect in another person would have an advantage.

Imagine spotting childhood neglect in a:

  • (New) friend.
  • Co-worker or boss.
  • (New) partner.
  • Client.
  • A stranger.

Would it change the way you:

  • Step into their shoes and communicate with them.
  • Be more understanding how they think, feel, and behave.
  • Evaluate (or judge) them?
  • Coach them.
  • Etc.

For example, yesterday I went from Amsterdam to Bali to teach the NLP Training and coaching certification class. I always fly in an aisle seat, and one of the reasons I give up the window seat, which is easier for sleeping, is that I have easier access to my bag. Flights are a mix between business and pleasure, so I access my bag switching out electronics and other things five times per flight or more. A man sitting a few rows behind me brought so many larger bags he didn’t check in that he had to shop for extra storage space above seats not his own. He wanted to put his stuff on top of my carry-on; given I am not that tall, it would mean I would no longer be able to access my carry-on without help. I expressed my problem factually, how this made me feel, and made a polite request for him to place his stuff elsewhere. For those that study communication, you may recognize this having elements of Non-Violent Communication (NVC.) He immediately blew up, threw a temper tantrum, and started yelling at me. Dialed from 0 to 10 in emotion, as if I threatened him with physical harm. Granted, the space you get in ¬†KLM economy is getting smaller and smaller and feels like torture. He is not wrong in that sense. But everything else told me that I was staring into a person’s eyes who had just gotten emotionally hijacked. And when you see someone backed into a corner, you must be careful about what you do next. Fortunately, I recognized it for what it was. I acknowledged his frustration and referenced that breakable electronics were inside my carry-on and jamming a heavy backpack could cause harm. His wife intervened, and the problem was then solved. She did snap at me, and I acknowledged (not apologize) for the inconvenience. They did not lose face by my account. Whether they did the baffled passengers sitting around me, I do not know.

Had I not immediately recognized that I was dealing with a little more than a frustrated traveler, I would have handled things differently.

What is childhood neglect?

  • Having emotions being cast aside as unimportant, irrelevant or minimized.
  • Being bullied in some form for being vulnerable or sharing personal information.
  • Required to meet standards that no child should or can meet.
  • Having difficult moments in a child’s life be minimized.
  • Being made fun off asking for help.
  • Being cast aside as unimportant or childish.
  • Having a dissociated, cold, or detached parent.
  • Not being seen by loved ones.
  • A lack of positive interactions and feelings that relate to love and safety.

What are telltale signs of childhood neglect in an adult?

  1. Trouble regulating emotions.
  2. They have uncontrolled outbursts.
  3. They do not like to talk about themselves.
  4. More frequent negative emotions.
  5. They minimize their needs.
  6. They have issues trusting other people.
  7. Low self-esteem.
  8. They criticize themselves a lot.
  9. Negative self-image.
  10. They doubt themselves a lot.
  11. Do not set boundaries.
  12. They have trouble sharing how they feel.
  13. They have more anxiety.
  14. They do not share their likes and dislikes.
  15. They are extremely poor at setting boundaries.
  16. Often isolate themselves or are withdrawn.
  17. They are incredibly high in conflict avoidance.
  18. They get uncomfortable when someone else shares their feelings.
  19. They do not disclose their problems.
  20. They have problems asking for or receiving help.

Phew! That was a big list. As an NLP Trainer knowing these telltale signs of emotional neglect really changed the way I teach and communicate.

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