“You’re going to be ok darling , I love you” –
Parenting My Inner Child .
I count myself lucky. My childhood was not perfect by any means , but it was certainly a childhood where I felt loved and safe. My previous belief was that once you were an adult if you didn’t get what you needed as a kiddie , then the rest of your life was a battle to struggle through , to try to get those unfulfilled needs met through work , relationships, or hobbies. But in essence a void that never really gets filled. Never being able to fill that huge gap in your development. You just learnt to paper over it with as much fun, achievements and good relationships as possible . A bit like grief really , you learn to integrate that hole into your being somehow, but it’s never going to be fully healed.
The idea of parenting or healing that inner child sounded to me a bit weird and woo woo when I first heard it . When I curiously picked up some books online about it , it was such an interesting topic it , and I realised that there are so many people out there who did not get the love nurturing and unconditional love that they needed from their primary care giver . Even Mums and Dads who did love their child, sometimes were not able to give their child what that particular child needed to thrive not just survive due mental illness , trauma , physical illness, or separation.
So, what does inner parenting work look like and where do you start ?
Parenting your inner child involves nurturing and taking care of the emotional and psychological aspects of yourself that may still carry unresolved issues from your past. So basically, it means talking to yourself the way a parent would talk to a child they were soothing and caring for , particularly that dialogue that happens when a child becomes dysregulated, and the parent gently calms and soothes that child with kind loving words understanding and care.
Here are some ways you can engage in this process:
This may mean some reading to get an understanding of how and where the gap in your childhood world were . Start off with some easy consumables. Reading great epitomes may get over whelming really quickly and it might put you off . After you have some done some preliminary reading , write down these questions and ponder over them for a few days…
- Did you get your feelings validated when you were hurt ?
- Did you receive support and kindness when you were frustrated or angry about something ?
- Could you speak your mind when upset with your parents?
- Were you listened to ?
- Were you made to feel guilt or shame , or blame for things that were out of your control or you did not understand yet ?
- Did you get an apology from a parent when they did the wrong thing ?
- Were you punished , criticised, or guided when you did the wrong thing ?
Some of us grew up in a time when children were seen and not heard which mean they had little if no emotional and psychological autonomy . Adults were always right, and the child needed to kotow . Unfortunately, this mean that a lot of adults got away with preaching to us about how to behave but did not exhibit that respectful and courteous behaviour that they expected from their children themselves. How adults could possibly expect a child to be regulated when they
were really angry after they had experienced a parental role model who was a Tasmanian Devil when he/she was angry .
We may have had a loving parent who was away working a lot and so we were left with our own thoughts , bullied at school and no other parenting role model around to talk it out with . This meant we could easily spiral into a litany of negative self-talk, with no one to challenge or correct our faulty thinking . When there is no one to test out our inner thoughts on, we can see how quickly those thoughts could become cemented core beliefs that ferment away over time, eating away at our self-esteem and self-identity .
Hypocritical really, and confusing for a child with an active creative mind and a good sense of self . Easy to see how that self of self could become crushed.
Once you have done that , reflect on your childhood history and experiences and
and identify any emotional wounds or traumas that may still impact you. You may identify some triggers and realise why you get so angry over seemingly innocuous things Acknowledge and accept your emotions without judgment. Remember this is not about blame or shame it’s about recognising what has happened and that you were a child and not to blame for how you were treated .Irrespective of how Naughty a kid you might have been . Even rebels deserve understanding and good parenting not just the angels !!
Treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding you would offer to a child. Be gentle and patient with yourself as you navigate challenging emotions.
“ I can see this is upsetting and frustrating for you and that’s ok. Take some deep breaths , let’s just slow ourselves down and take a moment to thin k this through carefully . It’s going to be ok , you just need some space and time “
Understand that your feelings are valid, and it’s okay to experience a range of emotions.
Yes you did lose your temper a bit there, but that’s ok everybody gets overwhelmed . Once you have calmed down and taken some time , you can come back to repair that rupture . It’s going to work out ok.
Acknowledge any pain or sadness and allow yourself to express those emotions in a healthy way.
My mum really hurt me when she moved away from me at 12 and left me with Dad . I felt lonely and rejected . It still hurts sometimes. I guess it’s why I get so hurt when boyfriends leave me. I know that I will feel deep sadness when this happens, but I know to write in my diary , talk to my friends and organise get togethers . This way it will ease the pain a little of being alone.
Imagine yourself as a child and visualize providing comfort, love, and support to that younger version of yourself.
I’m sorry this is difficult; I am here for you . I know this is going to be tough, but you are tougher , you have so much to offer the world and you are so capable . I am here to walk with you and hold your hand . you are not alone.
- Write a letter to your inner child, expressing love, understanding, and encouragement.
Dear self :
You are such a great kid. You deserve the world. You can do this , it might be a little scarey but that’s ok , its ok to be scared, you know that facing your fear will help you to achieve more. You are smart and kind, and funny and warm, you are enough.
- Establish healthy boundaries in your life to protect yourself from situations that may trigger negative emotions or memories.
Its ok to not go to Mums house . I was not safe there as a child and she did not protect me . I have a right to say no and if that is bothersome for some people that is not MY concern . I will take care of ME , nobody else comes first before me anymore.
- Learn to say no when necessary and prioritize your well-being.
Example : I can’t look after your dog sorry . I have had a busy and stressful week and I need to take care of myself by sleeping and doing yoga.
- Positive Affirmations:
- Use positive affirmations to counter negative self-talk.
Example I am enough , I am at peace with myself, I value myself as a person “
- Remind yourself of your worth and capabilities.
I am caring, inquisitive , loving ,supportive and I am capable of anything I put my mind to
- Inner Child Activities:
- Engage in activities that bring you joy and reconnect with the playful and creative aspects of yourself.
I used to love horse riding as a kid, I might try that again.
Explore hobbies or interests that may have been neglected.
Consider seeking professional help if you find it challenging to work through deep-seated issues on your own. A counsellor is trained to help you unearth unconscious patterns of negative thinking , core beliefs and distorted narratives that keep us “ stuck “ . Moving forward requires that we recognise our internal dialogue and how it affects our thoughts our feelings and thus our wellbeing . Therapy can also provide a person to co regulate with , and work through our painful feelings and emotions , in a safe way , especially if we have emotional business form the past that has not been processed with our family of birth or with others Therapy can provide a supportive environment for healing and personal growth.
- Mindfulness and Meditation:
Practice mindfulness to stay present and focused on the current moment.
Meditation can help calm the mind and promote self-awareness.
- Celebrate Achievements:
Acknowledge and celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small. It’s really important to recognise how far we have come after we have decided on our journey to heal our inner child. Small wins are not only worthwhile recognising in of themselves , but they also help to create momentum to continue on the journey by providing benchmarks and a sense of satisfaction. The journey is evidently yielding results and therefore is worth the struggle sometimes. Recognize your growth and progress in your journey of reparenting.
Remember, reparenting is a process that takes time, and it’s okay to seek support from others, including friends, family, or professionals. Be patient and compassionate with yourself as you work towards healing and nurturing your inner child.
Youve got this !!!!