The kind of upbringing we were exposed to can influence the way we see the world and who we are today. While some of our childhood experiences may be fun and positive, others may also be negative and not so great.
The latter can stem from bad parenting or lack of affection in childhood. This can cause emotional wounds or trauma that we are likely to end up carrying in adulthood.
So, how do we resolve such issues or heal these wounds? The answer is reparenting yourself. Becoming the parent to your inner child can help you work through them and become an emotionally healthy adult.
Everyone can benefit from reparenting: it is not only for those who may have experienced neglect, abuse, and trauma.
What is reparenting?
Reparenting, in its most basic sense, is the act of giving your adult self the support you didn’t receive as a child. It is originally referred to as a form of psychotherapy (psychotherapeutic reparenting), in which a therapist assumes the role of a dependable parent you never had.
Its goal is to treat any psychological issues brought on by poor or bad parenting, as well as learn what a healthy relationship is like.
In this article, however, we are using the term in relation to self-care or the things you can do to reparent yourself. This involves learning skills and strategies to heal your inner child, develop a sense of self-compassion, and take charge of your life.
A therapist can give you professional guidance or support to help you reparent yourself effectively.
What is an inner child?
Self-reparenting involves getting in touch with your “inner child”. It basically refers to the part of your personality that reflects the child you used to be. It involves the things you learned and experienced during childhood, which have negative and positive aspects.
Your inner child can act up when you don’t feel in control of your response to a conflict. If you, for instance, were neglected or hurt as a child, you may face challenges as an adult when dealing with similar situations that bring up memories of past trauma.
The negative aspects of your experiences may have also taught you to hide your pain, fear, or sadness.
Do you need reparenting?
Any form of abuse or neglect in your early childhood years can negatively affect you in the future. This can be in the form of hiding your vulnerability, having difficulty with relationships or clinging to false and self-limiting beliefs you were taught to accept as true.
The same can also happen if you have an emotionally absent mom or are dealing with a mother wound.
Here are a few signs that you have a wounded inner child and need reparenting:
- Difficulty setting (healthy) boundaries
- Struggling or feeling embarrassed when expressing pain, sadness, anger, or being vulnerable
- Difficulty trusting yourself and other people
- Constantly avoiding conflict or trying to please people
- Having a deep fear of abandonment and rejection
- Feeling shame or guilt about your past
How to reparent yourself: reparenting techniques
If you believe that you need reparenting yourself, here are a few things that can help:
Acknowledge your inner child
To start the healing process, acknowledge that your inner child exists and that it may be hurting. Explore your past to recognize and accept the painful or traumatic experiences you had.
Exposing these wounds or hurts can help you understand how they affect you now as an adult. This is beneficial in healing the wounded child inside you, as well as changing your feelings or behaviors.
Listen to your inner child
Connecting with your inner child can sometimes trigger strong emotions like anger, guilt, sadness, and insecurity. It is helpful to trace these back to the experiences you had as a child to find out where they stem from.
And as you do this, you may recognize similar situations in your adult life that bring up the same feelings or responses.
Don’t push these emotions away. Listen to them and let yourself experience these feelings. They can help you discover and validate your pain and suffering, which are both beneficial in healing and working through them.
There’s more to journaling than just writing your thoughts, feelings, and actions. It can help you sort through painful or traumatic experiences and begin healing. Consider journaling as your inner child to identify unhealthy behaviors and thinking patterns that started in childhood. It is best to just let your thoughts flow and write whatever your mind tells you.
Here are a few journal prompts for your inner child:
- What activities did you enjoy doing as a child? When and why did you stop doing them?
- What were you deprived of as a child? How does this affect your life now?
- How did your parents react when you felt sad, hurt, or scared?
- What past experiences do you think may have contributed to a fear or insecurity you have now?
- What would you say to your younger self now?
- Compare your past and current outlook on life.
- Write about your favorite subject, book, movie, TV show, etc., or your hero as a child.
Mind your self-talk
Bad childhood experiences can cause you to develop low self-esteem or even engage in negative self-talk. This only makes sense to treat yourself with kindness and have more self-compassion, especially when you made a mistake and have trouble with reparenting or remothering.
It can be challenging to stop negative self-talk if you are accustomed to it, but it’s possible to lower the voice of your inner critic.
Practice more self-love and surround yourself with positivity or engage in positive self-talk. Acknowledging your negative thoughts and applying a positive thinking twist on them is also beneficial.
Tap into your playful side
Your adult responsibilities shouldn’t stop you from having fun. If you were denied such experiences in childhood, it can be helpful to get in touch with your playful side now. Giving yourself the experiences or the things you want as a kid but were not allowed to can foster healing.
There are also other intangible benefits to giving in to your playful urges, such as:
- Contribute to happiness
- Help you cope better with stress
- Stimulate your mind
- Improve connection with others
- Boost your energy and help you feel young
While you may have had painful or traumatic experiences in the past, remind yourself that you are not that kid anymore. So, as you reparent yourself, you need to practice mindfulness to stay in the present.
This will enable you to acknowledge your feelings without judgment and sit with your emotions to fully understand them and foster healing.
See a therapist
Reparenting or remothering yourself is not always easy. This only makes sense to talk to an experienced therapist or mental health professional.
They can help you navigate your past experiences and develop reparenting techniques. They can provide professional guidance on how to reparent yourself and work toward becoming an emotionally strong and healthy adult.
The best part is you can choose to do this at home through online therapy. This means not having to travel or commute if you don’t want to. You can get the support and guidance you need through healing your inner child or even work through unresolved childhood trauma.
Other helpful tips include:
- Tell trustworthy friends that you’re starting the process. They can offer help and support.
- Set attainable goals daily, such as limiting your screen time, going to bed early, or making your bed after waking up.
- Get plenty of sleep and eat nutritious meals.
- Be patient and remind yourself that reparenting is a process.
- Celebrate your progress.
- Do something for yourself that brings happiness.
Having neglectful parents or bad experiences as a child can cause you to have issues associated with relationships, independence, and your own self-worth.
Reparenting yourself with guidance from a mental health professional on Calmerry can help you work through these issues, let go of self-pity, and accept yourself just the way you are.