The child’s brain

Early childhood years are a period of rapid change in the brain. Early and middle childhood years are when the brain forms complex network connections at the fastest rate. The forming of the brain’s neurons – a process known as myelination – is 80% complete by age four.

According to many scientists, the human subconscious dictates about 95 percent of our behavior. When does this “subconscious programming” take place?

From birth to six years.

What’s the significance?

As you know, the brain is responsible for almost everything we think, say, and do. If a child isn’t adequately nurtured, brain development is inevitably affected. Hence, the child’s emotional networks are underdeveloped.


Developing a sense of trust on an individual level requires a steady external environment. During childhood, it is essential that the people around us be relatively stable. We must feel safe and feel some semblance of emotional giving from others.

Without a stable and nurturing environment, the child may very well find it difficult to trust others. Of course, this underdevelopment makes just about every type of relationship difficult.


Children learn to interpret emotions primarily through dyadic communication such as words and gestures. Both play a crucial role in helping the child articulate their feelings, manage fears, understand negative emotions, and develop resilience.

Without the ability to correctly interpret their emotional states, the child may never develop an essential life quality: emotional intelligence.


Tragically, children who grow up in a neglectful environment never develop a healthy sense of self-worth. On the other hand, a stimulating and loving environment can instill confidence and fortitude.

A child who is unloved almost certainly feels an absence of self-esteem; often manifesting as an unjustifiable sense of failure. Many otherwise intelligent people don’t live up to their potential only because they weren’t loved and embraced as children.


The human brain learns primarily through association and pattern recognition. In psychology and cognitive neuroscience, pattern recognition is “a cognitive process that matches information from a stimulus (the outside world) with information retrieved from memory.”

Regarding relationships, the unloved child will seek out the familiar; namely, toxic people.


Every legitimate mental health expert will agree that a positive environment outside of the home helps – at least, to some degree – counteract the negativity found inside of the home.

But this is where things get complicated (and infuriating).

If a child can not rely on the very people who are responsible for ensuring his or her caregiving, how can he or she rely on anyone?


It is no surprise that unloved children often battle mental health issues.

Depression and anxiety stemming from (a) having experienced neglect, and (b) the inevitable complications that surface once the child ages, are commonly-cited experiences.

Depression and anxiety are the two most common mental health issues in the world. And the chances of an adult developing both increases substantially with a history of neglect.


We’ve all heard the term “Don’t take it personally.” On the whole, this is solid advice. People dealing with their own issues often project these issues onto others, and it behooves us to understand this human inclination.

However, for someone who had the misfortune of growing up in an unloving home, to not take things personally goes against the grain of their psyche. After all, the person must now contend with an intense fear of rejection – a byproduct of feeling insignificant and unloved.

“Stop being so sensitive” is a go-to phrase of abusers; ironically, this belittlement only heaps onto the person’s already fragile sensibilities.