6 Signs of Affective Deprivation in Children

Imagine not receiving love from the most important people in your life. Well, this is how children feel emotionally deprived. Be a loving parent and make your children feel how valuable they are to you.
6 Signs of Affective Deprivation in Children

Last update: 26 May, 2022

Kisses, hugs, caresses, and advice are signs of affection that parents must show their children to prevent affective deprivation.

Showing affection to children is an act that contributes to healthy psychosocial development; it’s not a momentary thing and doesn’t create an unhealthy dependency. Children’s development depends almost entirely on the parents, or adults in charge. This is not just from an economic or educational point of view, but also from an emotional and psychological perspective.

There is nothing more rewarding than a parent demonstrating affection, love, and understanding to his or her children. This will allow them to grow in a healthy environment and develop habits that mimic what they learned at home.However, many children lack affection. This is either because of their family, or their immediate surroundings. When this happens, the consequences of affective deprivation appear in children, which directly influences their behavior.

What are the signs of affective deprivation in children?

During childhood, children require shows of affection from the people closest to them, not only to feel loved and protected but also to develop healthy as social beings. Sometimes a child can receive shows of affection as an infant but as they grow, parents tend to give less signs of affection.

Affective Deprivation

Occasionally, long working hours and the hectic modern lifestyle cause adults to forget some of their family obligations. This includes showing their children gestures of love that remind them how important they are.
A lack of affection causes children to constantly feel lonely or abandoned.  It also weakens the communication between parents and children and can have repercussions for their level of self-esteem.

You must read: My Child Doesn’t Listen to Me

To discover if your child needs you to show more affection, you should be aware of the following problems as described in the Chilean journal of neuro-psychiatry:

  • They’re a “troubled child” and have problems when interacting with other people.
  • The child is always on the defensive and alert to what is happening around them.
  • They suffer from childhood stress.
  • Their immune system is weak due to high stress levels.

1. Disobedience

From the emotional deprivation in children, the need to receive attention arises. To be the center of attention, children tend to disobey their parents’ orders and to present inappropriate behavior, such as tantrums, and crying in public places.
Children who want love and attention from their parents often make scenes, and if they do not achieve their goal, they increase in intensity and frequency. The typical signs of disobedience in infants are:

  • Exhausted crying.
  • Aggressiveness.
  • Rage.
  • Impulsiveness.
  • Sudden mood swings.

Let’s take a more in-depth look at some of the symptoms:

2. Aggressiveness

Aggressive behavior

When children are aggressive, it is best to listen to them and give importance to what they say. That way, they’ll feel valued and will have enough confidence to say what they’re worried about.

3. Insecurity


Faced with the emotional vacuum and lack of affection, children often feel unprotected. According to psychology experts at Centre Londres, this causes them to be scared when interacting with other people.
As they do not feel safe and constantly fear for their physical well-being, they are always on the defensive and very alert to what happens in their environment. Therefore, distrust is a clear sign that something is not going well.

4. Fear


Affective deficiencies in children that are not treated by a specialist can generate a sense of emptiness and distrust. Unfortunately, this will be present in the child’s relationships as they grow up unless it is properly addressed.
Fear of abandonment is acquired by little ones when they don’t receive the affection they require from their parents and relatives. This pattern is difficult to leave behind.
Normally, it’ s necessary to take the child to a family psychologist or therapist. This will help them overcome their fear and strengthen the relationship between parents and children.

You may be interested in reading: Nourishing Children with Love and Starves Their Fears

5. Low academic performance


The lack of attention and affection in children can result in learning disorders and lack of motivation when doing homework. According to research conducted at the University of Babahoyo, children who have emotional deprivation have language problems and poor academic performance.
They usually take longer than other children to develop language and have few social skills. They censor their emotions and usually evade any kind of affection with those around them.

6. Attachment to electronic devices

Child addiction to technology

Some parents choose to let the “digital nanny” take care of their children. This tendency to let children get distracted by electronic devices or watching television creates an impersonal parenting method. Unfortunately, little ones often get enveloped in a technological bubble that leaves human interaction aside. And, over time, it also causes them to become dependent on these devices.


A lack of affection in children generates a great fear of losing their loved ones . Unfortunately, this results in the child always being alert to what happens around him or her.
Infants who grow up in a home with a lack of affection remain in a state of permanent anxiety. They are always in search of emotional relationships that can satisfy their needs to feel loved and safe. It’s necessary to remember that children require constant displays of affection and attention, like kisses and hugs, to grow healthily.

Signs of affection are decisive in forming their personality and benefiting their brain development.  A lack of affection can cause an insecure personality, which is characterized by emotional immaturity, selfishness and identity problems. When children grow up in an environment without love, they have problems maintaining stable interpersonal relationships and often have great value conflicts.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.