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4 signs of lack of affection in boys and girls

4 signs of lack of affection in boys and girls

January 29, 2023

Since affectivity and emotions were placed at the center of scientific discussions, much of psychology and pedagogy have been interested in studying how affective experience affects the construction of personality, especially during the early stages of development.

Thus, the affective dimension and its relationship with psychological development in childhood have had an important impact on education. That is why we will present below several signs of lack of affection in boys and girls , followed by a brief discussion about the opposite extreme: the excess of affection.

  • Related article: "What is affection and why does it mark us throughout life?"

The importance of affection in childhood

The affective dimension is currently considered one of the keys to psychological development. In other words, how it is offered and shared affection has to do with the development of identity 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 each other , and given that the first people with whom we relate are our primary caregivers (whether family members or not), it is also these caregivers who help us to consolidate and make sense of our affective experiences; experiences that, when integrated, generate frames of reference and action.

The close environment of the child is the one that presents the world; and the kind of affection he receives there, is the same one that he will expect to receive in environments outside of this one. In the same way, the affection that the boy or girl receives in his next 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 girl receives on behalf of their primary caregivers , is an important part of what will help you identify and relate in one way or another beyond your first environment.

  • Maybe you're interested: "The 6 stages of childhood (physical and psychic development)"

4 signs of lack of affection in boys and girls

While all our relationships are mediated by an affective dimension, speaking of lack of affection does not mean that affective responses or emotions have completely disappeared. Rather it means that these responses are occurring in an insufficient or little reciprocal way.

Having said that, the lack of affection during childhood can manifest itself in many ways , but it is in the social dimension where it is usually more evident, since, through emotions (among other factors) we present ourselves to the world and relate to it.


Thus, four of the signs that may indicate that a boy or girl is in a situation of emotional deprivation are the little emotional control, conflicting relationships, personal insecurity, and negative self-concept.

1. Little control of their emotions

Perhaps this is the clearest sign that there is 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 the social norms that accompany them.

If it has happened to the contrary, it is likely that the child has difficulties, for example, to tolerate frustration or to know how it is appropriate to express anger or vulnerability.

In addition, affective deprivation can have a different impact on children. Children are usually educated to be more intolerant of affection, with which they also develop more resources to face a possible emotional deprivation, at least at a private level. For the same socialization of gender, 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 in an important way the affective dimension, so that they become empathetic and receptive towards others and towards the needs of others; with which, it can cost them more work to assimilate these deficiencies, and channel the lack of affection towards themselves.

2. Isolation or conflicting relationships with their peers

In the midst of the affective experiences we engage in an approach and a certain type of relationships. For example, we can tend to isolate ourselves or be extroverted, to feel comfortable with hugs when greeting, or to feel uncomfortable in spaces with many people, etc., according to the emotions we put into play in each context and according to how we have been socialized and socialized .

Related to the above, affective deprivation can cause the child to develop little empathy, with which, their interpersonal links, as well as recognition or respect for other people's emotions, can also be complicated.

3. Tendency to insecurity

A good part of the scientific community agrees that the affective dimension is one of the ways in which girls and boys acquire security and build a concept of themselves. Thus, the lack of affection can cause an insecure personality.

This insecurity can be manifested through defensive behavior, or, through a withdrawal due to fear of facing new situations that generate emotions over which the child does not feel control or seems strange.

For the same reason, a significant lack of affection can cause excessive submission to the rules and a rigid and anxious personality ; or otherwise, constant challenging behaviors and a lack of respect for the limits of others, since these would be the most accessible ways for the child to compensate for the felt insecurity and thus maintain a sense of certainty that relieves him or her.

4. Negative self-concept and recurrent guilt

Related to the previous point, the affective dimension has an important impact on the opinion we are forming about ourselves. The lack of affection transmits a message of little or no recognition of themselves .

That is to say, it can generate that the judgments of value on themselves are more negative than positive, or that they insist on blaming themselves on all the negative that happens around them.

Lack of affection vs Excessive affection

Unfortunately affective deprivation can have some undesirable consequences for boys and girls , both at the individual (psychological) level and at the level of interpersonal relationships.

However, it is important to look for alternatives starting from considering that, in many circumstances, caregivers are unable to offer a stable affective structure for reasons that exceed them.

For example, the great deficiencies in care practices that have emerged after recent socio-economic transformations; that have forced to rearrange family and productive roles and have transformed the responsibilities of those who have been traditional caregivers.

Given this, different spaces and compensatory practices are generated. For example, formal education and the role of teachers has recently been positioned as a source of important affection .

On the other hand, one of the most common compensatory practices is that caregivers try to compensate for emotional deficiencies through 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 that affection has, with which, they do not represent a definitive substitute in the long term.

Finally, and in contrast to the lack of affection, many children are in an excessive affective situation . Given this, it is important to recognize that excessive affection, or overprotection (for example, when everything is solved for fear of frustration), has the same psychological effect as lack of affection or abandonment: the message is transmitted to them that they are beings incapable of relating and responding to the world, which creates helplessness and can generate the signals we developed earlier.

Bibliographic references:

  • Maldonado, C. and Carrillo, S. (2006). Educate with affection: characteristics and determinants of the quality of the child-teacher relationship. Childhood Adolescence and Family Magazine, 01 (001): 33-60.
  • González, E. (2002). Educate in affectivity. Complutense University of Madrid. Retrieved May 8, 2018. Available at //guao.org/sites/default/files/biblioteca/Educar%20en%20la%20afectividad.pdf.

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