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  • Writer's picture Zalman Nelson - Therapist

Inner Child Healing: How To Heal Your Inner Child And Become A Better Parent

inner child healing and parenting

As an adult, you are two: an Inner Child part and an Adult part. It's been that way since you were around 12 years of age. And before that? It was just that kid, open and absorbing messages about who he is: valid, good, worthy, safe, and loved…or the opposite. Most of us are a combination of good and positive messages, received through the words and actions we received from parents in our formative years until age 7.

Inner Child: Unmet Emotional Needs

It's the messages we missed out on getting entirely, or enough of, that continues to be our work and are at the heart of what we need to do in order to heal and mature, develop and grow, form successful relationships of all kinds, and find happiness and success. That means that our efforts at Inner Child healing need to focus on the 7-year-old us that's still much a major force and presence in all our interactions, how we perceive others and the world around us, and our sense of self. It's those long-unmet emotional needs that our Inner Child still contends with that come up when we overreact when we're emotionally triggered in our daily interactions. And it's those emotions we need to connect with, name, tune into, contemplate, and learn from, all the while treating ourselves continually as of worth, until it becomes our sense of self, and our validation and confidence solidify and strengthen.

Not Your Fault, But It's Up To You

It's not our fault for how we were raised or what we went through, and we're also not looking to blame. But it is up to us what we do with it and about it. And the way we treat ourselves becomes the way we treat others and others treat us. That goes for all our relationships. You'll see parts of yourself in others and react to it as it's in the other person, when you should be working on it as it's within you: insecurities, fears and worries, invalidation, lack of confidence, socially awkward, and more. A big upside of that fact is that by working on ourselves, connecting with our emotions, and building a relationship with our Inner Child, our relationship with our Inner Child improves, and then, naturally, our relationships with others change as well. It's like a ripple effect going outwards, impacting and uplifting everyone and everything around you.

Learning from Children

This also applies to our relationship with children. It can often be difficult to connect to the abstract idea of an Inner Child. For sure, it will help you to put a picture of yourself around 7 years of age on your phone or fridge and imagine connecting with that kid. Imagine that kid trying to communicate with you when you find yourself overreacting and emotionally triggered. But it's still abstract. The next time you're around children, however, notice and observe them and your thoughts and feelings. The ways in which we naturally treat and speak to children provide great ideas for how to treat your Inner Child. In addition, it shows you what you're already very capable of doing when it comes to interacting with children, and you can begin to apply that to your relationship with your Inner Child.

Parenting and the Inner Child

Your relationship with your Inner Child is also the key to successful parenting. How you treat your Inner Child becomes the way you treat your actual children. Until you begin to engage in Inner Child healing work, you'll see parts of yourself, that Inner Child, that need your attention, as they appear in your children. But, instead of healing yourself, you'll "work" on it as it manifests in your kids. This is where tons of people tell themselves "I'll never treat my children how my parents treated me," and then there they are doing the very same things. Until we take over as the parent in our life, build a new relationship with our Inner Child, and begin to connect with his feelings and through that, meet his long unmet emotional needs for validation, reassurance, security, safety, and love, we'll treat our Inner Child and the children in our lives the very same ways we learned growing up, and repeat many of the ways we were treated.

Instead, we can begin to heal our Inner Child and transform our parenting and relationship with our children, by noticing the triggered emotions and overreactions that often come up in our interactions. Those feelings, when named and contemplated, will give us clarity about our unmet emotional needs, and we'll start to meet them through that very same validating process of getting to know, hear, understand, and accept the feelings we keep encountering. It's like finally feeling heard and understood, welcomed and allowed to feel what we feel. That's hugely validating and makes clear our worth, when done regularly and consistently – a daily practice. Naturally, our relationship with our children changes.

Unconditional Acceptance

We can leave them space to be their own person, to feel heard and understood, and to experience the key, crucial item every kid needs from their parents: unconditional acceptance. That they are good, as is, all the time, just because they are, and not because of anything they do or did. It means that when they make a mistake, we're upset about the words or actions they did, but not that there's anything wrong with them as a person. We love them, but we don't like the behavior they did.

#emotionaltriggers #innerchildhealing #emotionalvalidation


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