9 Signs You’ve Had an Invalidated Childhood (With Ways to Heal)

Last Update on April 5, 2024 : Published on April 7, 2024

Our childhood is the most important phase of our lives. That experience is what shapes us into who we become as an adult. In an ideal world, our childhood years are filled with love, support, joy, and the freedom to express our thoughts and feelings authentically. Unfortunately, for many, this isn’t always the case.

Childhood invalidation is a reality in many people’s world. It’s the act of dismissing or minimizing a child’s emotions and experiences. Childhood invalidation is also something that can leave long-lasting scars on your psyche and well-being as an adult.

Today, we’re exploring the signs of an invalidated childhood, how it impacts us, and how we begin our healing. Knowing the signs of an invalidated childhood can help you reclaim your voice and move forward into a fulfilling future.

Also Read: Is My Child Getting Burned Out? Major Signs To Recognize Child Burnout

What is Childhood Invalidation?

Childhood invalidation occurs when a child’s feelings, thoughts, and experiences are constantly dismissed, minimized, or ignored by their parents or caregivers. This kind of traumatic childhood experience can take many forms – from being told “you’re overreacting” to having a child’s need unmet. The message a child receives through such actions is that their emotions are wrong, unimportant, or even a nuisance.

Imagine a child who comes home after a fight with a friend. Instead of receiving a hug or a listening ear, their parents brush them off with, “You’re just a kid. You’ll get over it.”

This kind of statement invalidates the child’s feelings and teaches them that their emotions don’t deserve attention. Eventually, this pattern can erode a child’s sense of self-worth and create confusion about their emotional reality.

Signs You Had An Invalidated Childhood

The impact of childhood invalidation can manifest in your adulthood in many ways. Here are some common signs that you might’ve had an invalidated childhood;

1. Difficulty Understanding and Expressing Emotions

You struggle with your emotions. You feel numb or disconnected from your feelings, or can’t express them as you want to. For example; You feel overwhelmed by your emotions but can’t pinpoint what you’re feeling. You dismiss your feelings because you don’t feel that they matter.

2. People-Pleasing Tendencies

You have an almost desperate need for external validation. You find yourself constantly seeking approval from others and putting others’ needs before yours. For example; You volunteer for extra work, even when overloaded with tasks, because you fear disapproval and disappointment.

Also Read: The Silent Struggle of Traumatic Invalidation (And How to Cope With It)

3. Poor Self-Esteem

You feel insecure and often question your self-worth. You doubt yourself and your abilities, giving birth to a bitter inner critic. For example; You constantly compare yourself to others and feel like a failure, even when you have nothing to feel bad about. You downplay your achievements and dismiss compliments.

4. Perfectionism

You have perfectionist tendencies and have high standards for yourself and others. This causes you to feel chronically stressed and disappointed. For example; You have impossibly high standards for yourself and get disappointed in yourself when you make minor mistakes.

5. Trouble Setting Boundaries

You can’t set healthy boundaries and have trouble saying “NO” to others. This can make you feel resentment in adulthood. For example; You feel almost obligated to help everyone, even when it comes at the expense of your well-being.

6. Fear of Being Vulnerable

You can’t open yourself up to your emotions, as you see being vulnerable as a risk not worth taking. You can’t initiate or keep up with intimacy and connection, fearing you’ll get hurt. For example; You avoid close relationships because you fear getting hurt. You keep people at arm’s length and can’t open up emotionally.

7. Self-Sabotaging Behaviors

You believe that you don’t deserve happiness and, thus, engage in self-sabotaging behaviors. You subconsciously create situations that lead to failure, confirming your negative self-perception. For example; You secretly procrastinate and miss deadlines, as this behavior reinforces your belief that you’re unreliable.

8. Feelings of Loneliness

You have a deep-seated feeling of loneliness as an adult. Even in relationships, you feel lonely. You can’t trust others easily or build genuine connections with others. For example; Even when surrounded by your loved ones, you feel a profound sense of loneliness.

9. Anger Issues

You frequently experience anger issues and outbursts of resentment. This is because of the years of suppressed emotions. You struggle to express your negative emotions such as anger constructively. For example; You experience episodes of anger over the smallest of things.

How to Deal With Childhood Invalidation in Adulthood?

Healing from the impacts of an invalidated childhood can take some time, but it’s a recovery that can make you feel a little less burdened with emotional baggage.

Here are some things you can do to deal with childhood invalidation

  • Validate yourself. You can start by acknowledging your feelings. Allow yourself to feel whatever you feel without passing judgment on your emotions.
  • Challenge your negative beliefs. The messages you receive as a child can continue to shape your voice as an adult. Identify those negative beliefs and challenge them with contrary evidence.
  • Practice self-compassion. Another way to deal with an invalidated childhood is to treat your inner child with kindness and compassion. Forgive yourself for any past mistakes and accept yourself as you are.
  • Work on your boundaries. Start setting healthy boundaries in your relationships – parental and otherwise. Learn to say “NO” and prioritize your needs before others.
  • Seek support and help. Reaching out to others, especially a therapist, can help you gain support as you process your past. Your therapist can also help you develop healthy coping mechanisms.
  • Practice self-care. Make sure you take time and prioritize your well-being by engaging in activities that bring you joy and reduce stress. This could include exercising, spending time outdoors, or pursuing creative arts.

Wrap Up…

Childhood invalidation can leave deep wounds on your psyche as an adult, but it doesn’t have to define your adulthood. Recognize the signs of an invalidated childhood and take active steps to break free from the past patterns. Keep in mind that healing takes time, patience, and support. Be patient and kind to yourself as you work on reclaiming your peace.

Most of all, don’t be afraid to reach out for help and support when you need it. As you learn to validate your emotions and experiences, you’ll gradually find your voice to carve an authentic and worthy life for yourself.

I hope this article helped you learn the signs of an invalidated childhood and how to heal from that experience. Let us know your thoughts on the blog in the comments below.

Until next time, take care!

About The Author

Swarnakshi Sharma
Swarnakshi Sharma

Swarnakshi is a content writer at Calm sage, who believes in a healthier lifestyle for mind and body. A fighter and survivor of depression, she strives to reach and help spread awareness on ending the stigma surrounding mental health issues. A spiritual person at heart, she believes in destiny and the power of Self. She is an avid reader and writer and likes to spend her free time baking and learning about world cultures.

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