Serious ignoring – consistent and not the kind that all parents do now and again to save their sanity – is “Failing to provide basic and appropriate responses and communication”.
It’s consistently interacting only when absolutely necessary and not ‘being there’ a significant amount of the time.
Ignoring is emotional abuse whether it’s of a child, spouse, elder, other family member or employee. Most of these forms of abuse apply whenever there is an imbalance of power – parent/child; older sibling/younger sibling; employer/employee; spouses – although it is most abusive when there is love and a component of dependence.
Ignoring is failing to give any response to or interact with a child, youth or other person at all.
- no response to infant’s spontaneous social behaviours
- not accepting your child as a precious human being and as an offspring
- denying required health care
- denying required dental care
- failure to engage child/adult in day to day activities
- failure to protect child/adult (particularly if dependent: senior or disabled)
- not paying attention to significant events
- lack of attention to schooling, etc.
- refusing to discuss youth’s activities and interests
- planning activities/vacations without adolescent
When ignored a child will very quickly assume that she or he is not worth listening to or looking at or being with and their self-esteem will very quickly take a nose-dive. Even some ignoring – perhaps due to adult migraines or depression or inability to chatter whilst working at home on the computer – will have an effect over time.
Ignoring and ‘the silent treatment’ affects a child’s development.
Reaction to any of the emotional (or other) abuses is usually either to withdraw or to become aggressive and over-compensate for the abuse. Internally the child is likely to feel similarly unworthy but externally the aggressive child will appear unaffected. In one way this is even more difficult to deal with because the child often succeeds in persuading even himself that he is just fine.
As an adult, later in life, this person will often find it more difficult to see that he is suffering from low self-esteem. An extreme example of this is the bully, who fools even himself into thinking that he is big and strong. Many bullies suffer from low self-esteem and are themselves victims of bullying, often by an adult.