The Effects of Childhood Rejection

Rejection is a normal part of life that everyone experiences at some time in their lives. However, when children are rejected by their caregivers, the damage done to them is enormous.


This piece will explore the effects of childhood rejection and methods of overcoming it.


What is Childhood Rejection?



Children depend entirely on their caregivers for all their physical and emotional needs. When children experience understanding and love, they will feel understood and loved.


Rejection by caregivers does not happen accidentally; it is a repeated and purposeful act where the parent or caregiver declares they do not love their child verbally or non-verbally. Rejection by a caregiver is a horrible thing for a child to endure and, just like adults, is long-lasting and critically wounds their psyche.


A few examples of childhood rejection may include the following:


  • Extending privileges to one child but not the other
  • Preferring one child over the other
  • Spending too much time online or with your nose in your cellphone
  • A parent leaving
  • A parent not following through with what they promised
  • Lacking quality time between a parent and child
  • Making fun of a child
  • Interrupting your child
  • Not allowing your child to speak
  • Showing no interest in what your child loves or fears
  • Sarcasm
  • Withholding love, compliments, or praise
  • Refusing to attend your child’s events


There are many more examples of childhood rejection, but you get the picture.


How Does Childhood Rejection Affect Adults?




Children’s brains are pliable and developing, and they are learning to become their own person. Children depend on their caregiver’s love and attention to help them understand the world around them.


Severe trauma, such as rejection or abandonment, interrupts the child’s natural course of neurological and psychological development, robbing them of their feelings of safety and worthwhileness.


Not only are they affected by their current situation but also in the long-term, carrying the adverse effects well into adulthood. Because of hard rejection in their lives, children grow up believing they’re unlovable or unworthy of love. These feelings about themselves cause a host of negative core beliefs in children.


Below are six subtle signs you experienced childhood rejection and how it affects you as an adult.


  • You automatically assume that others are thinking negative things about you.
  • You are afraid to let people in
  • You find you have difficulty compromising with someone else
  • You are a people-pleaser
  • You never feel you are good enough
  • You have a difficult time giving and showing love to someone else and yourself


If any or all of these signs cause problems in your life, it is time to seek professional help.


Healing from Childhood Rejection



God knows people who experience dissociative identity disorder know rejection. You were a helpless child who desperately needed your caregiver to love and respect you but got rejection and abused.


Rejection leaves survivors feeling like they do not belong anywhere in their world and causes them to behave in ways that mirror, in some ways, the rejection they encountered while growing up.


Besides psychotherapy, which is extremely helpful and necessary if you have dissociative identity disorder, there are at least six methods to help you overcome childhood rejection.


Acknowledge the rejection. Try not to minimize the rejection you endured and not to pretend it didn’t happen. Doing so will lead to feelings of guilt and self-blame. It is vital to understand down deep where it counts that the rejection you endured was not your fault. Instead, see the rejection for what it was and move on. Moving on is not a magical event; it takes time and patience with yourself.


Accept what happened so you can let go. Accepting what happened does not mean you agree with the treatment you knew as a kid. Acceptance means that you are dealing with what happened and are no longer allowing rejection to rule your life and relationships.


End self-criticism. Rejection in childhood commonly causes the child, now an adult, to become their own worst critic. These folks engage in behaviors such as making mental lists of all their faults and shortcomings while denying what they have done right. Make an actual list of your good qualities and post them where you can see them often to remind yourself that you are worthwhile and do not deserve rejection then or now.


Restore your self-worth. Restoring self-worth depends on reciting positive affirmations to yourself to restore your motivation, confidence, and self-esteem. Using positive affirmations may sound like it would not work; however, if you hear them long and often enough, your subconscious will pick up on them, and your attitudes and beliefs will change.


Write essays or paragraphs about your good qualities. Write a few brief sentences about your good qualities to help you see them in black and white. Write about your strengths, your value, and what you do that is good.


Visit a Therapist. This healing method has been broached earlier in this article, but it is vital to seek professional help for rejection trauma and dissociative identity disorder. The issues are just too complex to face alone.


Ending Our Time Together


Childhood rejection is one of the most painful experiences anyone can face. The sting of rejection, accompanied by grief, sadness, and shame, carries on into adulthood and, if left untreated, can alter your life significantly.


Research has found that the same part of the brain activated when we experience physical pain becomes activated by rejection. It is no wonder rejection hurts so badly.


If you suffered rejection when you were a child and feel the effects today, there is hope. Therapy can help you to settle once and for all the fact that the rejection you experienced was the responsibility of the adults who harmed you.


“Early relational trauma results from the fact that we are often given more to experience in this life than we can bear to experience consciously. This problem has been around since the beginning of time, but it is especially acute in early childhood where, because of the immaturity of the psyche and/or brain, we are ill-equipped to metabolize our experience. An infant or young child who is abused, violated or seriously neglected by a caretaking adult is overwhelmed by intolerable effects that are impossible for it to metabolize, much less understand or even think about.” – Donald Kalsched












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