Being a Caring Parent to Your Inner Child

Soothing Your Inner Child

Mother and Daughter
Parenting Your Inner Child. Cary Jobe / Getty Images

Getting in touch with our inner children is not always easy. At first it might seem that they just want to cry and cry. This is natural. The parts of us that were split off at a young age had to go away for good reasons—abuse, fear, neglect, misunderstanding. These young parts were not allowed to express their overwhelming feelings, so they took the feelings away with them.

When we invite these lost inner children back into our lives, we have to be ready for them to express a lot of distress.

But what do we do then?

How Do We Soothe the Inner Child?

First of all, it is a process and it won’t get done all at once. You need to learn how to parent your own particular inner children. They will teach you what they need as time goes on. You will have to be just as patient as if you had adopted a real child with a troubled background.

Second, you need to take those feelings extremely seriously. “Soothing” the child does not mean saying, “There, there, dear. It’s OK. Stop crying.” You may have heard voices like that in your past, but your job is to be a different kind of parent, one who really listens to the child’s feelings. The first part of soothing is to hear the feelings. The child might not be able to tell you why she or he feels sad or angry or scared. Your job is to pay attention to the feelings.

If you can, find a safe a quiet place where you can literally sit down and listen. Let the feelings emerge.

Accept all of them, even though it is painful. If you can’t bear all of it at once, tell the child that you will listen for ten minutes, or five, or two minutes. Then promise the child to make another time later to listen some more.

Here’s Where the Soothing Comes In

  • Value all those difficult feelings and validate them.
  • Let your body express the love you have for this child by holding a pillow or stuffed animal, rocking, humming, stroking, doing anything you’d do to comfort an actual child.
  • Trust your instincts on this. Let the child tell you what feels good to her or him.
  • Don’t let any critical voices tell you that it’s silly to rock and hum a lullaby. It’s not silly—it is valuable practice in loving yourself.

You will need to do this practice over and over as your inner child gradually learns to trust you.

Over time you will learn to be the caring parent that this child never had. You will share your future with the wonderful, free, and loving spirit that is your inner child.

Jane Rowan (a pseudonym) is a survivor of childhood trauma and betrayal. She is passionate about sharing her healing experiences with others. This includes her own Inner Child work. She is a New England writer and poet.

Readers Share Different Ways They Soothe Their Inner Child

My Inner Child Teaches Me - One of the ways I practice loving my inner children is inventorying my childhood which gives her an opportunity to feel & express her grief and loss and fears. Doing mirror work invited her to share herself with me. It is quite powerful to see her pain, to witness her energy bursting forth from me. I recently bought a rocking chair at her suggestion. I sit in it and rock and look up at the sky since she had me put it on my porch outside. She comes up a lot when I play especially if she might look foolish/stupid as she did as a child. I listen to her, witness her fear and pain and we go back to playing together with a healthier energy. I am doing breathing exercises by Deborah Blair on YouTube and EFT with Brad Yates which helps facilitate a connection with all my inner children. They help give me the grace and strength I need to be a loving witness to them all. Watching movies can bring up emotion and that is another way I connect with them and allow them to express. ~Judith

Climbing Trees - As a child I remembered climbing trees, picking fruit from our garden and laying on a sheet in my back yard eating strawberries and plums, making preserves with my grandma and collecting bugs. Anything that has to do with nature awakens my inner child. ~Keneda

Creative Memories - When I want to nurture my inner child I go and carry out an activity like colouring in, drawing, painting, making things with Play Doh - all these remind me of activities I did when I was a child that made me feel happy and calm. I also had a lot of stuffed toys way back when, now I only have a few, but there is nothing like cuddling up to one of my teddy bears when I need comforting. I hope this gives readers some more insight into ways of soothing the inner child. ~Sherry

Finding the Child Within You - In our creative pursuits if we wish to let creativity flow then we really to become more childlike. This is of-course different to being childish, which is what most likely happened when our parents wounded us --- we were childlike and they were childish. So yes I suppose that I am saying to be fully adult is to be childlike. I wrote a seven sentence blog called finding the child within you. Take a look if you wish (http://sevensentences.com/2011/06/13/child-within-you/). ~GeoffTalbot

Toy Blocks - I used to play with them every afternoon till I started going to pre-school. Then when I come home, I would still play. You can build anything you like - towns, villages, homes. ~ordinarysoul

Childhood Pictures - I have several pictures of me between the ages of 2-6 years. I keep them in places where I can see them often (next to my bed, on the wall above my make-up table, in the bathroom, etc.) These are sweet reminders that she is with me always. I send her love each time I see her precious face and that shy smile! ~Sandee

Stuffed Animals - I have three stuffed animals I keep around for my inner child. I'll carry them around the house. ~Kelly Gray

Cuddle-Time - When my inner child needs some extra love and care, I cuddle up under a quilt and read her a book. ~Shannon

Milk Toast - When I was little my mother use to make me milk toast whenever I was feeling sick. She would make me a slice of buttered toast with cinnamon sugar sprinkled on top. Then warm milk is poured over the toast in a shallow bowl. I would slurp up the soggy warm bread and milk with a spoon. Milk toast is a true comfort food made with love for a sick child. As an adult I have made milk toast for myself a few times when my inner child needed nurturing. It isn't quite as good as when my mom made it for me, but it conjures up loving memories. Good stuff! ~Linda