Childhood is a stage for growth not only physically but also emotionally. It is not a rare phenomenon for unloved children, battling with emotional and behavioral problems.
When we are born we have no sense of self. We can’t tell ourselves as being different from our mothers. As infants, our sense of self is totally enmeshed with our parents.
As we grow up, we gradually realize that we are a separate individual and it is around the age of two or three that we start developing a separate sense of self or “Ego”.
It is during these initial years (birth to six years) of our life that we start developing our ego/sense of self and our interaction with our parents during this time plays a pivotal role in the quality of ego/sense of self we develop.
If we receive consistent love and support during our childhood, we grow up with a feeling that we are valuable and loved; we have an increased ability to solve our problems, to form healthy and meaningful relationships and an overall sense of well being and security.
If we receive inconsistent love or face excessive humiliation or trauma during our childhood, we grow up with a poor sense of self, fear of failure, lack of trust and a tendency to enter into toxic relationships.
This is because as an infant we are totally helpless and dependent on our parents for sustenance, love, and care and abandonment by parents is as painful as death.
If a child notices that his parents do not have time for him or are inconsistent in their ways towards his needs, he develops a feeling that he must be worthless and good for nothing.
If the sense of self is distorted at this age, a person carries that into adulthood and it reflects into his behavior even as an adult.
Here are some of the behaviors of people who were unloved as children display as adults:
1). Fear of abandonment, Unhealthy attachment styles and toxic relationships
A child who gets consistent love and support during his childhood grows up with a healthy attachment style.
He has a deep internal sense of his value and the deep sense of security.
He knows that he is worthy of being loved and cared for, relationships are stable and that this world is a safe place to explore and learn.
But if a child receives inconsistent love and support during his childhood, he grows up with an insecure attachment style.
They either become anxiously attached or totally avoidant in their relationships.
- Anxious attachment style
If a child gets love and support that is inconsistent, sometimes there and sometimes not there, he will grow up with an anxious attachment style.
He will cling to people for attention and will be perennially scared that they will leave him sometime or the other.
- Avoidant attachment style
If a child grows up with parents who are not there to take care of the child, he learns to take care of himself and grows with an avoidant attachment style.
He will try to be as self-reliant as possible and will evade any intensity in relationships and will avoid sharing himself at deeper and intimate levels in relationships to avoid possible hurt.
The basis of both anxious and avoidant attachment style is Fear of abandonment that stems from lack of parental love in the childhood.
The partners we choose in adult relationships are subconsciously a replica of our parents because we seek the familiar.
Also if we have a poor sense of self and fear of abandonment due to lack of parental love in the childhood, we will either have an anxious or avoidant attachment style and we will unconsciously get into toxic relationships.
It is important to take out time to acknowledge our unhealthy patterns and understand where they stem from so that we can consciously work towards healing them and form healthy relationships instead of toxic ones.
2). Operating in extremes in emotional space
It is during childhood, that the child gets the help from his parents to learn to recognize and express his emotions in a safe environment.
If the parents are not available during this time, the child will have a hard time recognizing his emotions and expressing them in an optimum manner.
As he becomes an adult, he will operate in extremes in emotional space, he will either shut himself off to his emotions completely or he will express them in an exaggerated and uncontrolled manner.