Healing Your Inner Child Wounds Can Support Your Growth as a Family
Most people wouldn’t claim their childhood was perfect. Almost everyone has at least some emotional inner child wounds. Some wounds occur from one humiliating experience, or a notable instance of broken trust, for example. How deep your inner child wounds are, depends on the levels of consistency, validation, and attention received from your parents. Healing these wounds is a process and not typically a linear one. When you heal your inner child wounds, you can, in turn, help your child do the same, too.
What Are Inner Child Wounds?
Before we talk about how to heal inner child wounds, it will help to define what is meant by the inner child. It is the most vulnerable, innocent part of ourselves. Healthy, consistent, loving childhood experiences result in being comfortable enough to express and embrace those aspects of the self. It translates into good boundaries, trust, and self-confidence.
However, when inner child wounds go untended, they can show up as triggers or trauma responses. Here are some common ones:
- Not asking for help
- Saying ‘I’m fine’ when you’re not
- Feeling like a failure
- A strong need to be in a place of power/control at all times
- Passive-aggressive behavior
- Needing constant validation
- Struggling with being alone
- Using guilt to manipulate
- Fears being vulnerable
- Feeling left out
Upon recognizing familial triggers, parent and child can work together towards healing. Parents can start by acknowledging their inner child wounds first to do this successfully.
Healing Inner Child Wounds as a Parent
You can’t change your child’s behavior or treat their wounds without understanding your own first.
The first step is self-reflection. Consider your desire to change your child’s behavior may stem from your own unmet needs. For example, your kids tend to talk or play loudly after dinner. It’s not their bedtime, but you feel frustrated and tell them they need to go to bed. However, what may be unrealized is that you, the parent, need quiet time for yourself. Or, you get annoyed or angered when your child expresses themselves in a way that you may consider unconventional or odd but isn’t harming themselves or anyone. Your emotion doesn’t suit the situation. Reflect on why you feel this way before reacting to them in the future.
Every family has high-stress situations — Homework goals, bedtime habits, and screen/social time, to name some common ones. Are all of them a power struggle? Acceptance of your child’s behaviors doesn’t mean you agree or will continue to allow sidestepping of the rules. However, stopping to address how you emotionally engage in each of these can be connected to your own inner child’s needs for validation and control. Ask yourself what accepting these behaviors means to you.
Healing together as a Family
Once you’ve acknowledged your trigger responses toward your child’s actions and they, in turn, are following your lead, you can both begin to make a shift together into a calmer way of engaging. In this space, you can explore the emotions that spurred a behavior, talk about options for future scenarios, and exercise making amends. This activity creates new neural pathways between the emotional and learning parts of our brain. Done with regularity, it will support your child in remembering a feeling, connecting it to an experience, and sharing it with you.
You and your son or daughter can apply multiple methods and tools to heal your inner child wounds. You can use affirmations, meditation, and journaling, to name a few.
Here are some examples of healing affirmations:
- It’s okay to tell the truth.
- You are loved/lovable.
- You are worthy.
- It wasn’t your fault.
- You have a right to explore and play.
- I’m sorry we went through that.
- You are enough.
In addition to affirmations, journaling daily could include feelings you and your child have longed to express. It could take the form of a written letter to the wounded inner child and how you’d love and support them. Such letters offer words of compassion, validation of suppressed thoughts and emotions, a space to grieve, and, if necessary, provide forgiveness.
Healed Wounds = Personal Growth.
When inner child wounds are addressed and healed, it supports greater productivity, confidence, trust, and self-love. Less time is spent worrying or seeking validation based on past expectations. Feelings of guilt or shame about what you think you should’ve done dissipate, and there is an appreciation for what is accomplished. There is comfort in quiet moments of solitude that allow for rest and reflection. Overall, the growth you experience leads to more balanced relationships — with yourself and your children.
Have you worked with any of the tools or practices mentioned earlier to heal yourself and or your kid’s inner child’s wounds for some time? If you have and are still struggling, you may need more in-depth, personalized modalities to make a breakthrough. Consider Deschutes Wilderness Therapy as a way to greater personal growth for healing the inner child as a family. Learn more about us here or contact us with any questions.