Child Neglect: Impact on Self-Esteem in Adulthood

Parents’ approval and acceptance are the main factors to ensure the stable development of a child’s healthy self-esteem. The children’s path to follow in life depends on the basics of self-esteem that they gain in childhood. However, many adults fall victim to their psychological problems, which are rooted deep in childhood. Children’s abuse, neglect, disrespect, and hatred can lead to long-term consequences in adult lives. The disturbed mental state also badly influences the neurological system, which can fail to perform its functions normally and causes severe mental disorders and life-tragedies of adults. Therefore, child neglect, abuse, and lack of acceptance harm the children’s self-esteem and contribute to difficulties in their adult life.

Unfortunately, many children experience child neglect or even acts of abuse. In discussing the long-term effects of emotional neglect, Finch (2019) defines this process as parents’ inability to meet their children’s mental or physical needs. As a result, cognitive problems like low self-esteem, shame, lack of a sense of belonging, self-hatred, or doubt can appear. Parents have the responsibility to help their children develop personal characteristics that will help them have fulfilling lives. Self-esteem is one of the most critical factors of character and personality development. Thus, it affects vital stimuli of successful personal development: emotional, signaling, adaptational, corrective, motivations, and retrospective (“How to build healthy self-esteem”, 2021). All mentioned factors help children to understand themselves better and function in society without obstacles. Parents should never neglect the children’s needs because they are responsible for helping them to explore the new world and developing their self-esteem.

The well-developed self-esteem often ensures that the children will succeed in all areas of their lives and contributes to long-term perfect mental health. However, many adult people have many difficulties understanding who they are and finding their place in society. Moreover, people often have neurological problems and suffer from addiction and psychological illnesses like depression (Afifi, et al., 2017). The reasons for people’s sufferings lie in childhood and the parent’s behavior and attitude. According to the practical research, in almost 80 percent of analyzed cases, people who had adverse childhood experiences, including child neglect in childhood, suffer from alcohol, drugs, sexual addiction, or clinical depression (Afifi, et al., 2017). Afifi et al. (2017) point out that most of the problems mentioned above are connected with low self-esteem caused by adverse childhood experiences. Thus, it supports the idea that child neglect affects people’s self-esteem in adulthood.

Child neglect affects the psychological state of the children and triggers the acute pathologies that can appear later in adult ages. Experiencing stress and unacceptance in childhood causes the deterioration and disruptions of the endocrine system closely connected with the nervous system regulating the body (Dadpe, et al., 2018). The neurological pathologies can develop out of the inappropriate behavior of the parents during the children’s young years. The distraction of neurons can also cause the long-term inability to make logical conclusions and consider oneself a normal and decent person (Dadpe, et al., 2018). Such distractions of the neurons are hard to eliminate because they are caused during childhood on the neurological level (Dadpe, et al., 2018). Therefore, child neglect badly affects the physical and mental health of people in their adult years.

This paper was devoted to explaining how child neglect may affect a child’s self-esteem in adulthood. The difficulties with self-identification and other mental problems result from the child’s unacceptance and lack of understanding. The root cause is child neglect and the lack of responsibility that parents show to their children. The problems with self-esteem in childhood have a long-term adverse impact on adults’ lives.


Afifi, T., Ford, D., Gershoff, E., Grogan-Kaylord, A., Merrick, M., & Ports, K. (2017). Unpacking the impact of adverse childhood experiences on adult mental health. ScienceDirect, 69, 10–19. Web.

Dadpe, M., Dahake, P., Dhore, D., Kale, Y., Kendre, S., & Shep, S. (2018). Impact of child abuse & neglect on children. MIDSR Journal of Dental Research, 1(1), 36–49. Web.

Finch, C. (2019). The long-term effects of childhood emotional neglect. We have children. Web.

How to build healthy self-esteem in a child. (2021). EdCraft. Web.

Cite this paper

Select style


PsychologyWriting. (2023, September 6). Child Neglect: Impact on Self-Esteem in Adulthood. Retrieved from


PsychologyWriting. (2023, September 6). Child Neglect: Impact on Self-Esteem in Adulthood.

Work Cited

"Child Neglect: Impact on Self-Esteem in Adulthood." PsychologyWriting, 6 Sept. 2023,


PsychologyWriting. (2023) 'Child Neglect: Impact on Self-Esteem in Adulthood'. 6 September.


PsychologyWriting. 2023. "Child Neglect: Impact on Self-Esteem in Adulthood." September 6, 2023.

1. PsychologyWriting. "Child Neglect: Impact on Self-Esteem in Adulthood." September 6, 2023.


PsychologyWriting. "Child Neglect: Impact on Self-Esteem in Adulthood." September 6, 2023.