This article is a real life case study of a child and their family and how communication and neglect impacts the individual long-term.
Why is it that some people are so good at expressing their emotions and others are not?
Why can some people regulate their emotions and others internalise their struggle?
How can you develop a stable relationship with everyone around you and be an active participant?
In this 3-part series, I’m going to take you through 2 different case studies that I’ve had real world experience with that will provide an example of an ‘ideal’ case about a family that practices communication and mindfulness and a ‘not so ideal’ case about a family that is perceived to have the ‘perfect recipe’ for great development but is lacking something. We will explore the case-by-case comparison and we will do an expert review on the two.
We will break down the issues between both cases, the problems that may cause this, and the solutions to what a more successful and enjoyable future may be.
Case Study 1
Let’s take a client that I’ve worked with for almost a year now, David*.
*Not their real name
David is only 18 and has been battling through school, has a mum and dad that are together, have stable and respectable job and are always present at home. David’s parents are also very flaky and disinterested. Whenever David tries to speak up and tell his parents about his day, he gets shut down, instantly! When he makes a request, he feels like his voice isn’t heard.
David’s family have adopted a habit of spending ‘quality time’ together in front of the tv, including when they are eating dinner there which prevents any opportunity for engaging in mindful conversation. David feels that he has always been treated like this and says that he is never able to do anything he wants to do and must always follow the line.
From The Outside
When David is completing 1:1 training session with myself, he struggles to hold a conversation and appears to feel awkward, as if there is always something on his mind. He finds it hard to develop strong relationships with others and always feels like people take is advantage of him. I can see a level of anxiety in him that is more prominent than many his age. Even when he lifts weights and does the recommended training, it takes some time before he feels comfortable enough to push himself or to actually start enjoying himself. Once he gets moving, he absolutely loves it and always wants more. But he doesn’t throw himself into the session like he could.
You can see David in this particular scenario has two parents that are still together, they have a stable income and are not absent from home. Just looking at some of the objective measures of time, wealth and also marital status, this perceives to be the ‘ideal scenario’. But as you can recognise, there are a few themes. The biggest one is of neglect.
- To fail to give due care, attention, or time to.
- To fail (to do something) through thoughtlessness or carelessness.
- To ignore or disregard.
David shows signs of neglect, he has not been given attention and time through what is perceived thoughtlessness and possibly carelessness. Potentially his parents have the best of intentions however haven’t had effective modelling for themselves to know another way of relating to their son. One thing is for certain, he feels IGNORED.
Neglected children in general are associated with more severe cognitive and academic deficits, social withdrawal and they limit peer interactions and internalise their problems as opposed to externalising them (Hildyard & Wolfe, 2002).
So if you can imagine what David feels, he seems so tied up with his own internal emotion, not feeling capable enough. He struggles to construct a proper sentence because of his anxiety leaving him feeling more insecure and vulnerable.
Most of the time this type of behaviour can be associated with “a phase” or just the complexities of going through adolescence and young adulthood. Long-term issues of neglect are associated with personality disorders, criminal behaviour, substance abuse and stressful life events (Hildyard & Wolfe, 2002). Many of these issues of neglect are developed earlier in life before the stronger symptoms mentioned above ensue.
What I would like you to do right now, is to pay attention to your next conversation, your next interaction, your next spur of the moment thought that you have when you speak with your children and your family. Put yourself in their shoes and let them be expressive and emotional and see what you learn.
Next blog ‘Case 2’ will be breaking down a completely different case and provide you more detail into what more care and attention can do to a child even when the odds are against them. For an example of this see a previously written article 3 Things A Family Program Needs for Growth.
Until next time,
Hildyard, K. L., & Wolfe, D. A. (2002). Child neglect: developmental issues and outcomes. Child Abuse Negl, 26(6-7), 679-695. doi:10.1016/s0145-2134(02)00341-1