26 Signs of Childhood Neglect That Resonate Deeply in Adulthood

Ephraim Obare
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Welcome, folks, as we journey back through the hazy alleys of our childhood. Buckle up because this might feel like your personal episode of Stranger Things. This topic is often swept under the rug, only talked about in hushed whispers.

Sure, it’s not a delight, but it’s a topic that needs some good old daylight. These are the 26 signs of childhood neglect that may have tiptoed into your adult life, masqueraded as quirks or ‘just how you are.’ It’s time for some real talk as we strip the gauzy veneer off the past to explore its impact on the present. Let’s get started, shall we?

Struggling With Intimacy

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Adults who’ve experienced neglect might have difficulty creating and maintaining close relationships. They never learned the give-and-take that’s necessary for healthy dynamics.


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Striving to be flawless, they hope that by being perfect, they can avoid future neglect. This leads to constant stress and frustration because no one can meet such a high standard.

People-Pleasing Tendencies

People-Pleasing Tendencies
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They become excessively focused on pleasing others, often at the expense of their own needs. They worry about how people perceive them and become intensely anxious when things don’t go as planned.

Extreme Independence

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They learn to care for themselves early and may resist letting others in. This can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness, making it difficult for them to develop meaningful relationships.

Issues With Self-Esteem and Self-Worth

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They may feel unworthy of love or attention, leading to self-esteem struggles. They may also feel like failures when they don’t meet high standards.

Feeling Invisible or Overlooked

Feeling Invisible or Overlooked
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This can be a deeply ingrained belief from their neglectful childhood. They may feel the world is against them and that they don’t matter.

Difficulty Identifying Feelings

Difficulty Identifying Feelings
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Adults who were neglected might struggle to put a name to their emotions. They may be overwhelmed by feelings they can’t control, leading to anxiety, depression, or destructive behavior.

Fear of Abandonment

Fear of Abandonment
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This comes from the fear that they’ll be left alone again, as they were in their childhood. They might expect the worst in relationships and be reluctant to let people close.

Persistent Feelings of Being “Different”

Persistent Feelings of Being “Different”
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They often feel like outsiders looking in. This can lead to feelings of loneliness and low self-esteem.

It might be hard for them to trust themselves or their instincts, feeling paralyzed when making decisions.

Trouble with Boundaries

Clear Boundaries Broken
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They might have difficulty establishing healthy boundaries, either too rigid or too lax. They might be afraid of confrontation and not let people know when someone crosses a line.

Chronic Self-Blame

Chronic Self-Blame
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They may blame themselves for any adverse event or problem. This can lead to a feeling of helplessness and an inability to solve problems.

Substance Abuse Issues

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Some turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with their past neglect. This can cause addiction or other substance abuse issues.

Overly Self-Reliant

Overly Self-Reliant
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They may become overly self-reliant to avoid feeling vulnerable. This can lead to feelings of isolation and not allowing themselves to rely on others for help or support.

Difficulty Trusting Others

Difficulty Trusting Others
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Adults who experienced neglect in childhood may find it challenging to establish and maintain trust in relationships. This stems from the inconsistency of care they received as children.

Mental Health Disorders

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Experiencing neglect in childhood significantly increases the risk of developing mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.


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This is often a response to the unpredictability of their childhood environment. Adults who experience neglect may develop an over-sensitivity to potential threats, leading them to become quickly overwhelmed or stressed.

Neglecting Personal Relationships

Neglecting Personal Relationships
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Adults who were neglected as children may struggle to maintain personal relationships. This includes difficulty trusting others, making and keeping close friends, or forming romantic relationships with mutual trust and respect.

Lack of Self-Care

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Neglected children often grow up not knowing how to take care of themselves. This can manifest in unhealthy eating habits, not taking medications as prescribed by a doctor, or not following through with medical appointments.


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Neglected children may not have been taught self-control, leading to impulsivity in adulthood. This can lead to dangerous behaviors like substance abuse, compulsive spending, or reckless driving. Impulsivity can also lead to conflicts with others due to hasty decisions.

Struggles with Parenting

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Adults who were neglected as children may struggle with parenting their children. Without having experienced proper parenting, they may find it challenging to provide a loving home and steer their children in the right direction.

Neglected adults may not understand how to discipline their kids properly or respond appropriately when their child displays negative behavior.

Difficulty Accepting Love and Kindness

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Neglected children often grow up not knowing how to accept love and kindness. It cannot be easy to get the service of others when one has not experienced it growing up and may perceive such acts as an attempt to manipulate them.

Poor Academic Performance

Poor Academic Performance
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Neglected children often struggle in school, leading to poor academic performance in adulthood. This can be caused by a lack of parental guidance in their education, a feeling of worthlessness, and other negative behaviors that may have developed due to neglect.

Hoarding Behaviors

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This can stem from being deprived of essential items as a child. Neglected children may develop the behavior of hoarding things to feel safe, secure, and in control. Hoarding can affect a person’s relationships with others and their ability to live independently.

Social Withdrawal

Social withdrawal
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Adults who were neglected as children might find it hard to socialize and form relationships. Their lack of trust and negative self-image due to neglect could lead them to avoid dating altogether.

People who have been neglected can also suffer from depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues, which further prevent them from engaging in meaningful relationships.

Poor Physical Health

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Neglected children are often not taught proper health and hygiene, which can lead to poor physical health in adulthood.

Difficulty Expressing Emotions

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Neglected children were often not taught how to adequately express their emotions, leading to emotional difficulties in adulthood.

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  • Ephraim Obare

    Ephraim Obare is a versatile member of the Frenz Hub writing team, bringing a rich background in economics to his work. An avid swimmer, reader, and cyclist, Ephraim blends analytical insights with his diverse interests.

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