Since affectivity and emotions have been placed at the center of scientific discussions, much of psychology and pedagogy has been interested in the study of how the affective experience affects the construction of the personality, especially during the early stages of development.
Thus, the affective dimension and its relation to the psychological development of childhood have had a significant impact on education. This is why we will present several of them below. signs of lack of affection in boys and girls, Followed by a brief discussion of the opposite extreme: excessive affection.
The importance of affection in childhood
The affective dimension is currently considered to be one of the keys to psychological development. In other words, how to give and share affection has to do with identity development and psychological maturation from childhood.
Affection, understood here as affinity, closeness, sympathy or affection; it is not something that is acquired in isolation. It is a process that it takes place while we relate to others, And since the first people with whom we are in relation are our main caregivers (whether they are family or not), it is also these caregivers who help us to consolidate and give meaning to our emotional experiences; experiences which, when integrated, generate frames of reference and action.
The child’s immediate environment is what the world presents to him; and the kind of affection he receives here is the same that he expects to receive in environments outside of this. Likewise, the affection that the child receives in his immediate environment is the same that he will learn to have as a resource available to offer in other environments.
So the affection that the boy or the girl receives of their main caregivers, Is an important part of what will help you identify and build relationships somehow beyond your first environment.
4 signs of lack of affection in boys and girls
As all of our relationships are mediated by an emotional dimension, talking about a lack of affection does not mean that the affective responses or emotions have completely disappeared. Rather, it means that these responses occur insufficiently or not reciprocally.
That said, lack of affection during childhood can manifest itself in several waysBut it is in the social dimension that this is usually most evident, because through emotions (among other factors) we present ourselves to the world and we relate to it.
Thus, four of the signs that may indicate that a child is in a situation of emotional deprivation are poor emotional control, adversarial relationships, personal insecurity and a negative self-image.
1. Little control over your emotions
This is perhaps the clearest sign of a lack of affection. If the child has had the opportunity to develop in a balanced emotional environment, he or she will most likely recognize the different emotions and social norms that accompany them.
If the opposite has happened, the boy or girl is likely to have difficulties, for example, in tolerating frustration or how appropriate it is to show anger or vulnerability.
Additionally, emotional impairments can affect boys and girls differently. Children are generally educated to make them more intolerant of displays of affection, so that they also develop more resources to deal with possible emotional deprivation, at least at the private level. Due to gender socialization itself, it is usually children who have less control over emotions, such as anger, in public spaces.
Girls, on the other hand, are generally educated to develop the emotional dimension in a significant way. so that they manage to be empathetic and receptive to others and towards the needs of others; thus, it may cost them more work to assimilate these shortcomings, and they channel the lack of affection towards themselves.
2. Isolation or adversarial relationships with peers
In the midst of emotional experiences, we establish a certain approach and a certain type of relationship. For example, we may tend to isolate ourselves or to be extroverted, to feel comfortable with hugs when welcoming, or to feel uncomfortable in crowded spaces, etc., in depending on the emotions that are brought into play in each context and depending on how we have been socialized and socialized.
Related to the above, emotional deprivation can cause the child to develop little empathy, so their interpersonal connections, as well as the recognition or respect for the emotions of others, can also be complicated.
3. Tendency to insecurity
Much of the scientific community agrees that the affective dimension is one of the ways in which girls and boys gain security and construct a concept of themselves. So, lack of affection can lead to an uncertain personality.
This insecurity can manifest itself in defensive behavior, or in a retirement for fear of facing new situations that generate emotions over which the child does not feel in control or seem strange.
For the same reason, a significant lack of affection it can lead to over-submission to rules and a rigid, anxious personality; or conversely, constant difficult behavior and a lack of respect for the boundaries of others, because these are the most accessible means for the child to compensate for the felt insecurity and thus to maintain a feeling of certainty which relieves him.
4. Negative self-concept and recurring guilt
Linked to the previous point, the affective dimension has an important impact on our opinion of ourselves. Lack of affection conveys a message of little or no self-recognition.
In other words, it can lead to value judgments about themselves being more negative than positive, or to insisting on blaming anything negative that is happening around them.
Lack of affection vs excessive affection
Unfortunately emotional deprivation can have unwanted consequences for boys and girls, Both at the individual (psychological) level and at the level of interpersonal relationships.
However, it is important to seek alternatives based on the idea that, in many circumstances, caregivers are unable to provide a stable emotional structure for reasons beyond their control.
For example, the major gaps in care practices that have emerged after recent socio-economic transformations; that forced them to reorganize family and productive roles and transformed the responsibilities of those who were traditional caregivers.
Faced with this, different compensatory spaces and practices are generated. For example, formal education and the role of teachers has recently positioned itself as a major source of affection.
On the other hand, one of the most common compensatory practices is that caregivers try to compensate for emotional impairments with material rewards, such as toys or electronic devices, in excess.
Of course, the material and recreational dimension is necessary, however, it is important to know that these elements do not have the same symbolic and bodily effect as affection, so they do not represent a definitive long-term substitute.
Finally, and unlike the lack of affection, many boys and girls are in an overly emotional situation. In the face of this, it is important to recognize that excessive affection, or overprotection (for example, when absolutely everything is resolved out of fear of frustration), has the same psychological effect as lack of affection or abandonment: they are given the message that they are beings unable to connect and respond to the world, which creates helplessness and can generate the signals that we develop earlier.
- Maldonado, C. and Carrillo, S. (2006). Educating with affection: characteristics and determinants of the quality of the child-teacher relationship. Revista Infància Adolescència i Família, 01 (001): 33-60.
- González, I. (2002). Educate about affectivity. Complutense University of Madrid. Accessed May 8, 2018. Available at https://guao.org/sites/default/files/biblioteca/Educar%20en%20la%20afectividad.pdf.