How To Heal And Re-parent Your Inner Child

Your Inner Child is the echo of the child you once were. We each have our own history and we have all been influenced by our environment, events and the significant people around us. Our inner child has stored those memories, and their impact upon us.

Go to the profile of Maxine Harley
Jun 19, 2017
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You may have heard the term 'inner child' and thought it was just another bit of ‘psycho-babble’ - even though the term has been around for many years now.

Your Inner Child is the echo of the child you once were.

We each have our own history and we have all been influenced by our environment, events and the significant people around us. Our inner child has stored those memories, and their impact upon us.

Up to the age of six years, our brain was functioning at a relatively slow pace —the Theta brainwave frequency of 4-7 cycles per second—which is a very ‘receptive’ brainwave state, and we would have been profoundly affected by our experiences.

We will have made ‘decisions’ at a sub-conscious level, about how we ‘should’ be and what we ‘should’ do in order to be seen as OK, and to be allowed to stay around and to ‘survive’ in our families.

Our later experiences will have reinforced these beliefs and formed our own ‘Script’ for how our life ‘should’ be. We carry these immature scripts and decisions with us into adulthood — when they run our lives more than 90% of the time.

It therefore makes sense that we should revisit the experiences of the child we once were, and to find out what our own script says about our life and the unfolding drama we have been re-creating and repeating.

Not doing so will result in our playing out of the same unexamined script and drama over and over again.

We cannot change the script by talking about it, or by conscious effort alone. It was designed to keep us safe—albeit in ways that now hinder us—and so it isn’t given up that easily!

Most of the time we are living life like a child inside a grown-up's body - and the child within us yearns for attention, understanding, care and support.

We may try to silence these deeper longings with alcohol or drugs, by promiscuity, gambling, over-spending, over-eating, work-a-holism, self-harming and other ways of avoiding the real and deeper needs we have. Needs which we haven’t allowed ourselves to become fully aware of, or to find a way to have sufficiently met.

Where does it begin?

We have all been influenced by our environments since the time we were in our mother's womb. 

The sounds around us, our mother's stress levels, the abundance or deficit of the ‘feel-good’ hormones and neuro-peptides, our nourishment or lack of it, complications, twin pregnancies, drugs, alcohol, and infections will all have played their part in how safe we felt even before we were born.

Then the actual birth experience, and our early infant care, and the ‘emotional availability’ of our mother will have either reinforced or soothed the impact of those first pre-natal influences.

As small children we will have been absorbing a great deal from our extended families, our caregiver(s), friends, pre-school and early school years, and religious institutions.

We may not have had words for these experiences but they will have been ‘logged’ in our sub-conscious minds and bodies.

This all creates the pool in which we float, or sink. Inevitably, the water will be a bit dirty - or it may even be like thick mud.

In this pool resides our self-esteem, body-image, family trauma, shame and secrets (even if not spoken about—as they all affect the quality of the care our caregivers are able to show to us).

We will sink down into this pool, or mud, whenever we are overwhelmed by our negative thoughts, emotions, self-doubt or self-loathing.

In therapy the aim should be to sensitively lift out this dirt and mud, bit by bit, until we are left with just a stain of what was once there.

We must also learn how not to ‘top-it-up’ with more mud—either by doing that ourselves, or by being around other people who want to dump some of their own mud onto us, instead of dealing with it, and cleaning it up, for themselves.

Signs that your Inner Child is wounded

These will be shown in low self-esteem, poor body-image, mood and emotional imbalances, problems with boundaries being too rigid or too weak, problems with eating, harming yourself, psycho-sexual difficulties, being ‘false’ and wearing ‘masks’, identity problems, being a rebel/ a hoarder/ a bully/ a perennial victim or a super-achiever, intimacy problems, commitment problems, a general lack of trust in yourself and others, criminal behaviour, excessive lying, being ‘overly-responsible’ for others, being fiercely competitive and a poor loser, dependencies and addictions, a lack of genuine friends, obsessive and needy behaviour, fear of authority figures, being manipulative, being passive, or being aggressive.

That’s a long—and sadly not exhaustive—list. It is the stuff that brings people into psychotherapy. To repair and heal the wounds caused by parents, and others, who didn’t know any better. It is always about the unmet needs of the Inner Child - the place of both our early wounding and the most profound healing!


What can we do to help our wounded Inner Child?

We can learn how to meet, rescue and ‘adopt’ this wounded child who still lives deep inside us. After all, you are the only person who you can guarantee never to leave you!

We can then emotionally contain and soothe our Inner Child, and allow the Competent Adult inside us to ‘attend to business’ out in the world.

However, we must regularly keep in touch with what our Inner Child still needs from us—which is, to be truly cared for by someone who wants the very best for them—that's you!

If you have a photograph of yourself as a small child, this will help you to empathically reconnect with him/her— the aim of which is to now understand their plight and to show them/yourself the compassion which has been missing.

It is often easier to feel compassion for other people than it is for yourself and you may have been rejecting and ignoring the yearning of your Inner Child - who has been calling out to you, over many years, for your interest, attention, compassion and love.

It may mean you now allowing yourself to have ‘treats’ and rewards that you would never have allowed yourself, or have been allowed by your parents, in the past.

The sensible competent Adult part of you should be able to set fair and sensible boundaries around this, so that you do not over-indulge yourself, or use any rewards as either a distraction or as a cover up for your deeper pain.

[If you have difficulties accessing this Adult part of your inner psyche then psychotherapy will be of help to you, providing that it includes this aspect of integrating the hidden or lost aspects of your character and personality, to help you on your path to becoming a more well-rounded and complete person.]

Rescuing and re-parenting your Inner Child will allow you to ‘fill in the gaps’ and enable you to live a more positive and rewarding life—with fun, laughter, spontaneity, authenticity, and most importantly, with love.

I want to heartily encourage you to re-parent yourself and your inner child by lovingly caring for her and by doing these things as often as you can (these apply to both boys and girls)...

  • Remind yourself how special and wonderful you were as a child

  • Have a safe place that you can bring to mind where you and your inner child can meet and play together

  • When you speak kindly to your inner child each day, have a loving and soothing inner voice – one that is supportive, soft, nurturing, patient and comforting

  • Tell her/him she is now loved, valued, and appreciated by you

  • Be sure to tell your inner little girl that shedoesn't have to prove herself to anyone

  • She has nothing to feel guilty or ashamed about. None of what happened to her was ever her fault. She didn't deserve to be treated badly.

  • She was just in the wrong place and had no means of escape – but she is now free at last!

  • There is nothing wrong with her/him.Tell them how proud you are of them

  • She needs to feel respected. Don't tolerate disrespect ever again

  • Tell her that you will be her guardian, champion and protector from now on. Things will be OK and you will never let her come to any more harm

  • She need never again fear being alone because you are always there for her now

  • Apologise for not being aware of her pain and needs in the past, and of pushing her too hard sometimes to try and impress others

  • Assure her that you will only allow safe, trustworthy and respectful people into your/her world now. Notice loving mothers who are caring for their babies and absorb that loving energy between a mother and child

  • Reassure her that you will be alongside her either to speak up on her behalf, or to support her when she speaks up

  • Agree upon a symbol of her freedom...something for her to summon up whenever she feels the need to escape and be alone with her thoughts. This might be (as some of my own clients have imagined) a ladder, a floating bubble, a sci-fi teleporter, a hot air balloon...anything that comes to mind that you/she can associate with release and freedom

  • Regularly ask her how she's feeling and what she wants. Imagine sitting alongside that little girl, putting your arm around her shoulders and gently pulling her close to your heart.

  • She has a home in your heart that she will never have to leave. She is safe with you now

  • If she wants to cry let her cry, and be there as her new mother to wipe her tears and soothe her pain or fear. Accept all her feelings and don't react negatively to what comes up. Be patient with her

  • Remember that healing happens in different ways and time-frames. Promise to do your best to bring her the joy that has been missing from her life – and this will be profoundly healing for you both.

  • Show respect to your body - the home of your inner child. Keep it clean and toxin free. Keep it safe and happy... like a good caring home should be

  • Think of her emotional healing as being like the physical healing of a wound – one step at a time. Keep the wound free of further contamination. Avoid toxic people and environments. Don't ever let her swallow any more poison – particularly if you still keep in touch with toxic/unhealed family members

  • Get back those things that brought you joy as a child – no matter how fleeting. Be sure to make a big thing of her birthdays and Christmas, holidays and achievements

  • Set up creative activities for your playful inner child to enjoy! Bouncing, dancing, crafts, finger painting and anything else that takes her fancy. Drawing – from the right brain – is a great way to express your inner child's feelings. Allow doodling and unstructured drawing and see what emerges when you're in the 'zone' of childlike creativity. Don't judge her efforts... just as you wouldn't judge a child bringing her art work home from school to show you. Be proud and show it!

  • Sing songs from childhood (whether you could sing well back then or not). Release any shame dumped on you for your singing ability - and instead enjoy stretching your vocal chords and making your own sounds that come from your heart and reach out into the world

  • Encourage her to loosen up and allow physical and emotional intimacy (this will enhance your own sexual intimacy too). She must feel safe and unconditionally accepted to be able to do this. Show her that she can trust her own instincts and be guided by her own 'antennae' as to who is safe. She may doubt her ability based upon her mistakes in the past. You are healing now and as you grow in love for yourself and your life you won't want or allow anyone close to your inner child if they don't align with that self love and a conscious caring relationship

  • Whenever you have to leave your deliberate connection with her, always imagine placing her back inside the warmth and safety of your loving heart.

Please remember that your inner child is a real part of your sub-conscious mind – a wounded child who needs your love, care and compassion...because no-one else can heal her pain and help her to make peace with the past.


Maxine Harley (MSc Integrative Psychotherapy)  MIND HEALER & MENTOR

www.maxineharley.com – for lots of FREE resources to inform and support your inner child's healing and recovery, including How To S.H.I.E.L.D. Yourself From A Toxic Parent, and How To Detox From A Toxic Parent, and the childhood recovery programmes called 'RECOVER FROM YOUR MOTHER', and 'CAST OFF YOUR FATHER'S SHADOW'

www.maxineharleymentoring.com – helping women who want to understand and manage their emotions, boundaries and behaviours – and to FEEL better, so they can BE, DO and HAVE better!

www.the-ripple-effect.co.uk – a series of 10 online self-help workshops covering a wide range of emotional and life difficulties – helping you to help yourself to a calmer happier life

www.qpp.uk.com - changing the sub-conscious belief system and S.C.R.I.P.T. (c) - Sub-Conscious-Rules-Infuencing-Present-Time 

Go to the profile of Maxine Harley

Maxine Harley

MIND HEALER & MENTOR - Psychotherapist (MSc), Author, Columnist & Blogger. Please see www.maxineharley.com and www.maxineharleymentoring.com, S.E.L.E.C.T. Your Life Company Ltd.

I help women to FEEL better - so they can BE, DO and HAVE better! As a MIND HEALER I specialise in helping women to recover from a troubled childhood and toxic parents, to heal and transcend their emotional wounds, re-parent their inner child, and make peace with their past. This enables and empowers them to become better parents, partners, professionals - and all round happier calmer people :-) As a MENTOR I offer different levels of therapeutic self development - including MINDING YOUR BUSINESS, MINDING THE GAP, and MIND MASTERY...please discover more at www.maxineharleymentoring.com

15 Comments

Go to the profile of Salisha Paccione
Salisha Paccione 12 months ago

Thank you Maxine. I'm just becoming aware of my inner child. This was good info.  I hope to see more of your posts in the near future. I think you can help me and a lot of wounded folks. 

Go to the profile of Maxine Harley
Maxine Harley 12 months ago

Thank you so much Salisha for taking the time to comment on my post - I really do appreciate it.

If you'd like to read more about inner child healing, and recovery from a troubled childhood, there's a whole page full of free resources on my website.

www.maxineharley.com/free-resources

Please get in touch with me if I can be of any further help to you and your inner child.

Warmest regards,

Maxine - maxine@maxineharley.com

Go to the profile of Julie Reynolds
Julie Reynolds 12 months ago

i have just been sent this link, and my inner child is screaming to be nurtured and heard altho I have a hard time revisiting that place where she was abused and the forgotton child, what you wrote made total sense to me, how can I heal myself if I don't help the little girl still hurting inside me, thank you for such wonderful insight into what I need to do x

Go to the profile of Maxine Harley
Maxine Harley 12 months ago

Thanks for commenting Julie and I'm delighted to read that you'll be taking care of 'little Julie' now - so that you can heal and recover from your childhood experiences.

I've created several free e-booklets, videos and articles that you might find useful in helping you to get started.

You can find these on my website www.maxineharley.com/free-resources.

Please feel free to contact me again if I can be of any further help to you. maxine@maxineharley.com

My warmest wishes,

Maxine

Go to the profile of Georgio Mosley
Georgio Mosley 11 months ago

hi Maxine, im Georgio. Im not sure if you will see this comment or not but i found your beautiful article here by accident. Cuz earlier this week i had an emotional breakdown. Which tends to happen every once in a while but not all the time. 

Sometimes i feel like imma scare people off or that im scare people will abandon me. Which has happened before for no reason on my part. So i looked online & i found a YouTube video on abandoment issues & i found out i may have them. Then when the video was over; i saw a recommended video called healing your inner child but it didn't quite give me what i need although the information was good & it lead me to google search & i found your article.


 I realised my inner child needs a lot nurturing, he aka little Georgio feels scared & has been treated bad a lot growing up not by parents but people. So i wanna thank you for what you posted here to help me. I still need more help cuz i don't think i can do it all by myself to heal my inner little boy self. Is it ok to get other people to help? My friend Joanne has helped me a lot by making me personal attention & Mom roleplay videos. I appreciate your insight & im sorry this comment was long. Have a lovely day 🌺

Go to the profile of Maxine Harley
Maxine Harley 11 months ago

Hello Georgio and thanks for contacting me here and by e-mail.

Someone ele can help you to heal your inner child's wounds - but they must know what they are doing and why. No matter how well meaning someone is, if their own history (and wounded inner child) gets in the way they can do more harm than good.

Ideally you will learn how to become the loving, stable and secure 'parent' to your inner child - so that he doesn't feel that acute pain of emotional abandonment as much in the future. It's a step by step process.

I do have more free resources that you can look through from my website page www.maxineharley.com/free-resources - 

and on that website you'll also find a self-help online guide/course called '3 Steps To Sort Yourself Out  without therapy!' here - https://maxineharley.com/3-steps-to-sort-yourself-out-2/ 

This does include some inner child recovery work as well as 21 audio tracks. (It's usualy £37 - but if you put the code TENOFF in the checkout it's only £27)

I hope that helps you on your own journer to healing and a feeling of inner stability and self-compassion.

Warmest wishes,

Maxine

Go to the profile of Dee Ann Evans Pease
Dee Ann Evans Pease 9 months ago

Hi Maxine, thank you for this post. I have been working on my inner children for a little bit in therapy. I came upon this post while looking for information on how to find out what my inner is needing as she is very closed off and avoids talking about her traumas.  I found this very helpful with how to stay connected and try and gain her trust so maybe she will let the wall and anger down to let me in. Thank you so much!

Go to the profile of Maxine Harley
Maxine Harley 9 months ago

Hi Dee,

Thanks for taking the time to comment - and I'm delighted that you found the article helpful. 

Your inner child is withdrawn and protecting hersef from further pain - and in time she will know and feel that you are all she needs to keep her safe now.

Enjoy the rest of your lives together in harmony and love. MX

Go to the profile of Christine fraser
Christine fraser 5 months ago

I have had an experience where I had recently allowed myself to heal from childhood trauma. My inner child energetically guided me To someone  I hardly knew. I felt from the first time I saw him, an amazing connection. It took some time for him to be open to me as much as I was with him. But my inner child wanted to share everything with him! She kept encouraging my vulnerability which has felt amazing. The newer friend and I have a growing relationship 

Go to the profile of Jeaneen Andretta
Jeaneen Andretta 4 months ago

I have been working with my inner child and inner teenager for a while. I come from a physical and sexually abused childhood, so much work is needed. Thank you for helping.

Go to the profile of Jeaneen Andretta
Jeaneen Andretta 4 months ago

I notice that most Inner Child healing calls for looking at your photo when you were small. I get very frustrated, as my parents never wanted me so they never took my photo. I admit it makes me feel sad.

Go to the profile of Jeaneen Andretta
Jeaneen Andretta 3 months ago

I am working on healing my Inner Child and it is rough. I heard my little one the other night ask " why everyone was better than she was" " the other night she asked if she was a loser". I am feeling very alone with no support. Being a rejected child, who was abused both sexually and physically, she needs help which I am trying to give her. I am reading as much as I can about healing the inner child and playing Louise hay cd's about loving the self and songs for the inner child. Any other suggestions would truly be appreciated. Thank you.

Go to the profile of Virginia Simpkins
Virginia Simpkins 12 days ago

I have been doing extensive inner child work. I found the many detailed examples of how to help her feel safe, loved and to bring about healing absolutely fantastic...it stirred in me more "stuff" that needs to be examined. I am happy to have read this. It will help me with my focus when with my therapist. Thank you, Maxine!

Go to the profile of Ashley Dalton
Ashley Dalton 11 days ago

Having had CPTSD for so long, this is all so very true as it really Hits home and hard! I wish it were easier to find therapist that understood to this level CPTSD and how it's different than PTSD. Thank u for your post (: I tear up just reading through it as it connects to my own childhood so much. 

Go to the profile of Polly Perkins
Polly Perkins 8 days ago

Hi Maxine, thanks for this work. I'm interested in working on healing my inner child but I feel there are some basic barriers for me, in that I don't really understand how to begin 'making contact's and I worry that working in the manner suggested above will increase my dissociative tendencies-that feeling of being more than one person and disconnected from my current experience. 

I can't quite see how to treat my inner child as a separate but connected entity nor how to re-parent her in the shadow of my adult self.

I'm in the middle of an investigation into my car so can't seek therapy as no one will treat me while I'm 'in crisis' but I don't think I can survive the minimum 2 years years of this investigation without doing more work on healing myself and moving forward with my life while the investigation continues 'in the background's.

I am also an impoverished lone parent, an orphan, type 1 diabetic and currently unemployed, so not in a position to seek private treatment (though when I looked into it no therapists would treat me anyway, until this 'crisis' is over, even if I found the money)

How can I begin this work to heal and finally grow up myself, where can I read about the practical process, the actual practice?

Thanks again,

Polly