Like many of the articles we publish on the web here at the Dads In Business site I feel the urge to preface the article with the fact that I am far from perfect when putting in to practice the ideas and experiences that we share. Like you, the articles here are lessons for me too and from each of the pieces within I find comfort in the fact there is opportunity to develop and improve but also the understanding this isn’t just me!
Ruby Philips, our content writer here really probes in to the concept of the inner child, what is means for us busy working Dads and what we can do about it. I’ve also punctuated the article with some further reading and video resources to help further your understanding of the topic.
What is your inner child?
Before we get stuck in, let’s define the ‘inner child’…
Our inner child is the childlike, spiritual and creative parts of ourselves.
Often, the inner child is accompanied by feelings of hurt, anger and fear that originated in childhood.
We all have one, and despite ageing on the outside, we will always carry our child self within us! We are but a grown version, still learning as we go and finding our way in this crazy world.
It’s not a secret that the events of our childhood shape us. Because of this, our inner child is triggered by certain things. Inner child work provides ways to recognise where emotions are coming from, and thus cope with them better.
How do I know if I need to work on my inner child?
You are highly reactive – you find yourself getting angry easily, jumping to conclusions or starting fights
Repetitive patterns in relationship – being avoidant during conflict, arguing over the same things, feeling jealous or insecure without reason, fearing abandonment, being destructive
Overly Independent– Not allowing anyone to see your emotional side, feeling like you can’t ask for help, feeling like you must ‘be strong’Mental health problems – Excessive feelings of anxiety, guilt and shame, depression.
Consider reading ?: An introduction to mindfulness for Dads.
Ok, so what actually is inner child work?
We all have trauma from childhood (that’s for sure!). Whether it be grief, harsh parenting, arguments, abandonment, bullying etc. These things shape us massively when we are young and keeps shaping us continually. However, the more aware we are of this happening, the more we can guide it.
Example: If you were bullied as a child, instead of projecting this anger or turning it inward, inner child work would invite you to take a new perspective. This could be writing down: “I did not deserve this treatment. I do not want to hold onto this anger any longer. The people who bullied me must have been having a hard time at home too.”
Example: Lots of people have experienced parenting that has disrupted their lives down the line. Talking to your child self, you can promise to give yourself the things you missed when you were young and give them to your kids too. Forgive the past the best that you can and plan for what you can do differently to your parents in the present.
Revisiting painful things from childhood from a kind, understanding perspective can help you to rewire how your brain has processed these memories, and how they affect you now. Inner child work involves being more compassionate with ourselves. This self-compassion can look like asking yourself: Does my child self-deserve this? What would my child self need in this situation? It can be as basic as going into nature to stimulate senses or resting more – AKA consciously nurturing yourself more.
This is also known as ‘reparenting’ yourself – being gentle to yourself as you would your own child.
Consider reading ? : How can Dads have better conversations with their kids?
Reparenting: the four pillars to support inner child work
There are four pillars of reparenting: Discipline, Joy, Emotional Regulation, and Self-care. Reparenting doesn’t happen over night and will need some commitment, but it is a great way to better yourself and work on things long term. It can also help strengthen your own parenting skills!
Reparenting involves accepting that our parents only taught us what they knew already, and that we can be different. It’s a way to step out of subconscious learned behaviours from our parents that might be holding us back. For example, the ways we were disciplined. Through this work, you can identify parts of yourself that may still be suffering from your early years. Once identified, they can be worked on!
Why is inner child work important for Dads?
Doing inner child work can benefit dads in several ways:
- Helps you to be the best version of yourself as a parent / partner / friend
- Makes you to be more self-aware of behavioural thoughts and patterns
- Helps you get in touch with feelings / root causes
- Can help you reform your identity
- Helps you to self-soothe using compassion
How to Start Inner Child Work at Home
- The first stage of inner child work is acknowledging your inner child exists.
- Now you are thinking about the child-you, choose some ways to nurture them. This could be practicing playfulness, noticing your senses through mindfulness, creative tasks and hobbies such as cooking, reading, making things
- Make time for things you might have missed out on in your childhood – or just miss in general.
- Really get involved with playtime with your kids, keep it fun and exciting, be a kid with them
- Journaling. When you are feeling something, try to write about how your inner child feels. Journal your progress with the ways you are choosing to nurture your inner child.
When you are ready for deeper work, have a look into Healing Trauma Through Inner Child Work
Consider watching ?
Pause. Play. Connect. How play is important for better relationships with our kids.
The Take Away…
Inner child work has different layers. You can use it to be more playful with your kids, and consciously get back in touch with your creative side. It can also be used on a deeper level for healing trauma and moving past blockers in your life. Working on your past can be tough, but it’s an incredibly caring thing to do for yourself (and your loved ones!). Everyone has room for a bit more kindness, and no one deserves it more than you!