Frequently in my work with clients I come across the inner child – that often hidden, wounded part of us whose needs were not originally met. It is my hope that, by sharing these with you, your children will not have to seek therapy as adults, to heal wounds arising from needs which could have been easily met in the first place.
Easily met, that is, if you and I as adults do the necessary work needed to heal our own wounded inner child. It is true that we often treat our own inner child as we have been treated – we do unto ourselves as we have been done to. If we felt rejected as children, we tend to reject our inner child. If we reject our own inner child, are we any more accepting of our children?
So here are what the inner children of my clients say is most needed in childhood and the lack of which can cause problems throughout adulthood.
Talk to me: Speak to me with the same respect you would another adult. Ask me about my day, how I am feeling and what I need. Let me know you are listening through your gestures and words. Be honest with me: I sense when something is wrong. Lying to me or deny your feelings makes me not trust my intuition. Hold me: When you hold me I feel accepted, loved and secure. Let me know everything will be all right: You are the adult, take care of me. When trouble arises, let me know we can work it out.
Compliment me: Compliments give me confidence, criticism diminishes my self-esteem. Discipline me respectfully: If I have done something ‘wrong’ let me know. Help me understand that it was my action, not me that was ‘bad.’ Set firm boundaries and parent me as a team, respectful of one another. Play with me: Don’t yell at me for being in a puddle and getting dirty, join me! Let yourself be a kid with me. Share my joy. Show interest in my activities: Walk with me, ride a bike with me, ask me how my game went, what’s up with my friends. Be proud of me: Tell me you are proud of me and show it when you are with others. Trust me and support my decisions as much as possible. This builds my self-esteem.