I know it can sound a bit weird if you’re not super familiar with the term and the topic – but I’m a big believer in the importance of doing Inner Child work. And, if you grew up in an addictive and dysfunctional environment, then Inner Child work is basically a non-negotiable (in my opinion) for your healing and recovery.
So here are 5 simple ways to give a little “hello” to your Inner Child when you’re easing into the whole topic:
#1 – Playing!
Do you remember how to play? I know I played as a little kid but I think somewhere along the line between my dad’s 400th violent outburst and my mom’s second prison sentence, I forgot how to do it. Go figure. Learning how to play again seems to be a lot easier when you have kids you’re close with (nieces, nephews, friends’ kiddos, your own kids) that’ll just naturally show you how to do it. But if that not your situation, no worries! You can still play on your own.
Playing can be lots of different activities: It can be coloring and drawing and being creative and crafty. It can be dollhouses and toys. It can be board games. I used to be obsessed with Pretty, Pretty, Princess! And playing can definitely be outdoor fun like bubbles, chalk, and kites if you’re playing solo. You can add hide and seek, tag, and Simon says to the list if you’re hanging out with little friends outside on a sunny day…or, you know, inside the house during a downpour. You’ve gotta work with what you have. 😉
#2 – Doing stuff you loved (or you could’ve/would’ve probably loved)
Think back to being a kid. Are there certain activities you remember liking? Certain books or TV programs or movies or songs that you really enjoyed? If so, this is a great time to reacquaint yourself with them. For me, this would be watching movies like Prehysteria, Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer, & Escape to Witch Mountain. Would any of those movies be on your list?
If you don’t have a lot of memories of what you liked as a kid, you can look up what was popular during your childhood and go from there. Like how I read the Harry Potter series as an adult years after it came out. (Click here to learn how reading about Harry Potter benefited me as an Adult Child of Alcoholics)
#3 -Take your Inner Child on a shopping trip!
Look, I’m the first one to say that you can’t buy happiness and healing…but hear me out for a minute, friend. Do you remember how awesome it felt as a little kid to get a new Hubba Bubba bubble tape gum roll or a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle coloring book at the store? You may think this is silly but I totally buy things for my inner child!
If you come over to my place, you’re gonna see my sparkly Lisa Frank dolphin folder openly being put to good use at my grown up desk because I loved Lisa Frank as a kid. No shame! It makes me happy. I also get my inner child at least one chocolate-marshmallow shake every year (because that was my #1 favorite while growing up). And if you’ve read my About Me page, you know I sleep with my rainbow leopard named Leola every night. When I first started to do inner child work a couple years ago, I nervously walked into Build-a-Bear with my two daughters and when the employee looked down at my girls and said “Who is making a new friend today?” I looked right at her and said “I am.” I motioned to my girls and said “They’re here for moral supportive” and we got on with it. With my girls’ very excited help, I made my inner child the best stuffed rainbow leopard ever and I love her. Yeah, yeah. It seems a little weird. But try it for a week and tell me you don’t feel comforted! Leola really is one of the best purchases I’ve ever made.
#4 – Writing stuff down & accepting whatever pops up
Grab some paper and a pencil – if the pencil comes from your Inner Child’s Power Ranger pencil case, that’s even better! 😀 If you’re not really into writing, start small. Write down what you remember about you as a kid. Write down lists of things you liked. Write down what you remember about being a kid in general. Let yourself write whatever comes up and see what happens.
If you feel ready to go for more, try writing a letter to your inner child as the adult you are now. Then try writing a letter from your inner child to the adult you are now. Sometimes it helps if you have a childhood nickname you can use to distinguish your adult-self from your inner child but it’s not necessary. For example, I go by Cassandra as an adult but people called me “Cassie” as a kid. So when I write as my inner child, I use “Cassie” for my signature.
#5 – Meditation
Meditation is a practice that trains the mind to experience stillness and quiet – a time when thoughts that come up and are allowed to float away without interfering with the mind’s peacefulness. I’ve heard it said that prayer is speaking to your Higher Power and meditation is tuning in and listening to your Higher Power.
I know that allowing your mind to be quiet can be really hard even in the best of circumstances. When you’re dealing with childhood trauma, I think it can become even more difficult because quiet so many times was just the “quiet before the storm.” So no worries if you struggle with it. Continue to try – daily practice really does make progress here – and go into it without expectations. If you need some help using meditation as a way to connect to your Inner Child, I really enjoy Lisa A. Romano’s guided meditations on the subject.
Inner Child work can be an intense and heavy yet extremely rewarding modality of healing for Adult Children. If this concept is new to you, using these 5 simple suggestions can ease you into connecting with your Inner Child and set you on the path to continue developing a healthy relationship with your little person. Your inner child and the adult you are now are both worthy of so much care, connection, and love. Here’s to creating healthy internal relationships when our external models weren’t much help. ❤️
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