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How Children Cope with Emotional Loneliness

Updated: Feb 16, 2022



A child who is experiencing emotional loneliness can be in great distress that they will do almost anything to create any kind of connection with their parents. Therefore, it results in children learning to put other people’s needs first in order to gain acceptance in a relationship. Rather than having the expectations of others to support or meet their emotional needs, they take on the position of helping others and showing others that they have few emotional needs. Unfortunately, these behaviours tend to create even more loneliness, as pushing away your deepest emotional needs forbids genuine connection with others.


Children growing up with the lack of sufficient parental support or connection end up being emotionally deprived and they are therefore eager to leave their childhood behind. They think that it is best for them to grow up quick in order to be self-sufficient. These children tend to become more competent beyond their years but lonely at their core. They often enter adulthood prematurely, such as starting a job as soon as they can, becoming sexually active early and even marrying early. They do so thinking that adulthood will give them freedom and a sense of belonging. On the contrary, as they rush to grow up, they may end up in a toxic marriages, accept being taken advantage of, or staying in working environments that takes more than it gives. Most of the time, they often accept emotional loneliness in relationships because it feels familiar to them, like how they experienced growing up.


Sometimes it puzzles us that the lack of emotional connection with emotionally immature parents can be so distressing and we wonder why people still choose the same discontented relationships in adulthood. In a book by Bowlby, he shares that a part of our brain tells us that familiarity will keep us safe. Therefore, we are more inclined to situations that we have experience in because we believe that we know how to deal with them best. As children, it is hard for us to recognise or see the limitations of our parents as it may seem immature and disrespectful. However, by not accepting the truth about our parents, we will not be able to identify similar people who are hurt. Being in denial causes us to repeat what we do not repair, as we are not able to see it coming again.

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