inner child work - reparenting your inner child

Embracing Inner Child Work: Reparent and Heal Your Inner Child

Natalie Buchwald, LMHCKnow Your Self

By Natalie Buchwald, LMHC | Last Updated: June 15th, 2023
Reviewed by Steven Buchwald

Introduction to Inner Child Work

As you journey through life, you may find that you’re not quite living up to your full potential. Perhaps you struggle with relationships, feel emotionally unbalanced, or find it difficult to make decisions that truly align with your values. These issues can often be traced back to unresolved emotions from your childhood. This is where inner child work comes into play.

Inner child work is a therapeutic approach that focuses on connecting with and healing the child within you. By addressing the emotional wounds of your past, you can transform your life and relationships in the present.

In this article, we’ll explore the concept of the inner child, the signs and symptoms of an unhealed inner child and the importance of inner child healing for personal growth. We’ll also discuss various inner child therapy techniques and approaches and provide guidance on how to connect with and reparent your inner child for lasting transformation.

Embark on the journey of inner child work and discover how it can unlock your full potential.

What is Inner Child Work?

The inner child is the part of your subconscious mind that holds onto your childhood experiences, emotions and beliefs.

It represents the child-like aspects of your personality, such as creativity, vulnerability and curiosity.

While the concept of the inner child may seem abstract, it’s important to understand that this part of you greatly influences your thoughts, feelings and behaviors.

Within each of us resides an inner child, a reservoir of emotions, memories and beliefs from our past, as well as the aspirations and dreams that guide our future.

Though we grow into adulthood, this childlike essence remains an integral part of our unconscious mind. Our inner child represents our child-like essence. You can think of your inner child as one of your sub-personalities or a part of your personality.

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The inner child springs to life when we encounter moments that mirror our childhood memories.

Until we actively engage with and integrate these memories, our inner child wields a powerful influence over our thoughts and actions, shaping our responses to life’s challenges.

When your inner child is healthy and well-integrated, you’re likely to feel emotionally balanced, secure and capable of forming healthy relationships.

Some children experience challenging situations such as abuse, neglect, parental loss due to illness, poverty, or divorce, which may impact their ability to manage their emotions and understand their distress.

When your inner child is wounded, you may experience emotional instability, low self-esteem, PTSD, eating disorders, or difficulty connecting with others in your adult life.

Inner child work is the process of healing these wounds and integrating your inner child into your adult self. By doing so, you can experience a greater sense of wholeness and emotional well-being.

Whether or not you’ve experienced childhood trauma, integrating inner child healing as part of therapy often results in improvements in clarity, well-being and treatment progress.

Signs and Symptoms of an Unhealed Inner Child

If you’re feeling stuck or frustrated, it might be your inner child throwing a tantrum.

When our inner child feels neglected or suppressed, it may come out in surprising ways, creating conflict with our adult self. This disharmony between our adult self and our inner child can take a toll on our emotional well-being, relationships and our capacity to present our best selves to the world.

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If your inner child lived with instability, uncertainty, or danger, it may hold you back from making changes.

It’s essential to recognize the signs and symptoms of an unhealed inner child in order to begin the healing process. Some common indicators include:

  • Persistent feelings of inadequacy or unworthiness
  • Recurring feelings of shame or guilt
  • Difficulty trusting others or forming close relationships
  • Fear of abandonment or rejection
  • Difficulty setting and maintaining boundaries
  • Self-sabotaging behaviors or patterns
  • Chronic anxiety or depression
  • Addictive behaviors or substance abuse
  • Emotional outbursts or difficulty managing emotions
  • Feeling disconnected from yourself or others
Love Sculpture depicting adults connecting via their respective inner child by Alexander Milov. Burning Man 2015. Photo by Alec Kondush.

The Importance of Inner Child Healing for Personal Growth

Healing your inner child is an essential part of personal growth and self-improvement. By addressing the unresolved emotional wounds from your past, you can create a more balanced and empowered adult self. Some benefits of inner child work include:

1. Improved emotional regulation: By healing your inner child, you can develop a better understanding of your emotions and gain the skills to manage them effectively.

2. Increased self-awareness: Inner child work can help you become more aware of the patterns and beliefs that are shaping your thoughts, feelings and behaviors.

3. Enhanced self-esteem: As you address the emotional wounds of your inner child, you can begin to build a healthier sense of self-worth and confidence.

4. Healthier relationships: Inner child work can help you understand and resolve the underlying issues that may be affecting your relationships with others.

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5. Greater resilience and adaptability: By healing your inner child, you can develop the emotional resilience and flexibility needed to navigate the challenges of life.

6. Expanded creativity and playfulness: A healed inner child can bring more joy, creativity and playfulness into your life, enriching your experiences and relationships

By addressing the unresolved emotions of your past, you can transform your present and create a brighter, more fulfilling future.

Inner Child Therapy Techniques and Inner Child Healing Exercises

There are several therapy techniques and exercises that can be used to heal and nurture your inner child. Our inner child therapists use a combination of these inner child healing exercises in and out of sessions:

1. Guided imagery and visualization

The first inner child healing exercise we recommend is guided imagery and visualization, which involve using your imagination to create mental images and scenarios that can help you access and communicate with your inner child.

For example, you might visualize yourself in a safe, comforting environment where you can meet and interact with your inner child.

2. Journaling and letter writing

The second inner child healing exercise we recommend is journaling. Writing letters to your inner child and asking questions about their needs and desires can help you explore and express your thoughts and emotions.

3. Art therapy

Art therapy offers a unique opportunity for self-expression and emotional exploration by tapping into your inner child through creative outlets such as drawing, painting, sculpting, dancing or singing.

Your inner child serves as a vital connection to your inherent creativity and imagination.

Reconnecting with your inner child through artistic endeavors can help rejuvenate your adult self, infusing it with the youthful energy and creativity that lies within.

Engaging in art-based activities allows you to access the child-like aspects of your personality, enabling you to examine your emotions from a different perspective.

4. Inner child dialogues

This inner child work exercise involves engaging in conversations with your inner child, either aloud or in writing, to understand their needs and feelings better.

5. Affirmations and self-compassion

Replacing negative self-talk with positive affirmations can help you develop a kinder, more compassionate relationship with your inner child.

6. Mindfulness and meditation

Practicing mindfulness and meditation can help you become more present and attuned to your inner child’s needs.

7. Inner child therapy

Working with an inner child therapist can provide guidance and support as you explore your past and work towards healing. An inner child therapist might use some or all of the exercises described above as well as other therapeutic techniques, such as the “empty chair technique,” inviting you to talk to your inner child as if it was right in front of you.

Strengthening the Connection with Your Inner Child

To start the process of inner child healing, it’s crucial to establish a connection with your inner child. Here are some techniques to help you connect and communicate with this integral part of yourself:

1. Creating a Safe Space

To effectively connect with your inner child, you need to create a safe, nurturing environment where you can comfortably explore your emotions and vulnerabilities.

This may involve designating a specific time and place for your inner child work, such as a tranquil room in your home or a serene outdoor setting.

2. Engaging with Openness and Compassion

Connecting with your inner child necessitates a gentle, non-judgmental approach.

Cultivate a sense of curiosity and openness towards your inner child. Be receptive to the stories and emotions they wish to share.

3. Trusting Your Intuition

Learn to trust your intuition and access the deep wisdom, thoughts, beliefs and dreams that your inner child holds for you.

By visualizing yourself interacting with your inner child or participating in creative activities, you can forge a stronger bond with this part of yourself.

Ask open-ended questions such as “Is there anything you’d like to share with me right now?” or more specific ones like “Inner child, what brings you joy, excitement, sadness, or pain? What are your hopes, dreams and wishes?”

When you approach your inner child with presence and curiosity, it will gradually open up, facilitating inner alignment and positive change.

Reparenting Your Inner Child for Profound Healing

Reparenting your inner child involves providing the love, support and guidance that your inner child may have lacked in your early years. By becoming the nurturing, protective parent your inner child needs, you can foster profound transformation and healing.

The process of reparenting yourself is essential in inner child work. By assuming the role of a caring parent, you offer your inner child exactly what it needs.

Working with an inner child therapist can be invaluable to reparent your inner child. Their guidance and expertise can significantly contribute to the success of this process.

Reparenting involves nurturing your inner child. Safety and unconditional love are two ingredients that children absolutely need for their well-being. By giving these to your inner child now, you are reparenting yourself, supplying the attention, safety, and love it needs most.

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Reparenting also entails recognizing when the inner child is triggered or activated and asking it what it needs in those moments of intense emotions.

Another essential aspect of inner child work consists of creating structure, discipline and boundaries, even if your inner child initially resists.

Approach these conversations with attentiveness and compassion, aiming for a resolution that benefits both your adult self and the inner child.

By addressing the inner conflict and reaching a harmonious understanding that works for both your adult and child parts, you allow your entire being to work in unison towards shared goals.

Signs Your Inner Child is Healed

Healing your inner child is a continuous journey that requires time, patience, and dedication. Nevertheless, there are several signs that indicate progress in your inner child healing:

1. Enhanced Self-Worth and Self-Esteem: As your inner child heals, you’ll likely experience an increase in your sense of self-worth and self-esteem.

2. Heightened Emotional Intelligence: You’ll develop a greater ability to manage and navigate complex emotions, demonstrating improved emotional intelligence.

3. Healthier Relationships: As healing progresses, you’ll cultivate more balanced and nourishing relationships with yourself and others.

4. Effective Boundary Setting: You’ll become more adept at establishing and enforcing healthy boundaries in various aspects of your life.

5. Increased Emotional Resilience: As your inner child heals, you’ll develop greater emotional resilience, equipping you to better cope with stress and adversity.

As you pursue in your inner child work, you’ll likely notice continuous improvements in your emotional well-being and relationships, indicating that your are adequately nurturing and reparenting your inner child.

Nurturing Your Inner Child Through Play and Creativity

One of the essential aspects of inner child work is reconnecting with your innate sense of playfulness and creativity. Engaging in activities that bring joy and spark your imagination can help you build a stronger connection with your inner child. Some ideas for nurturing your inner child through play and creativity include:

  1. Engaging in artistic pursuits, such as drawing, painting, sculpting, or photography.
  2. Writing poetry, stories, or journaling as a creative outlet.
  3. Dancing, singing, or playing a musical instrument.
  4. Participating in sports or physical activities that you enjoyed as a child or have always wanted to try.
  5. Engaging in imaginative play or role-playing games.
  6. Exploring nature, such as going for a walk, hiking, or birdwatching.
  7. Trying new hobbies or activities that spark your curiosity and interest.

Remember that the goal of these activities is to have fun and connect with your inner child. Let go of any expectations or judgments and simply engage in play for its own sake.

Keep in mind that the goal of these activities is to have fun and connect with your inner child. Release any preconceived notions or judgments and immerse yourself in the pure joy of play.


Inner child work is a potent therapeutic approach that can transform your life and relationships. By connecting with and healing your inner child, you can surmount emotional traumas from your past, foster increased self-awareness and personal growth, and nurture deeper, more meaningful connections with others.

If you grapple with low self-esteem, challenges in forming healthy relationships, or intense emotions, inner child work can offer the healing and transformation necessary to unleash your true potential.

Embarking on your inner child healing journey is possible with the assistance of our therapists.

With perseverance and patience, you can reparent your inner child, nurture emotional resilience and well-being, and experience a more satisfying life and relationships.

Remember, healing your inner child is an ongoing process that requires dedication and self-care. But with the right guidance and support, you can overcome past emotional wounds and embrace a brighter, more fulfilling future. Our therapists offer inner child guidance and support through online therapy.

Are you ready to unlock your full potential with inner child work? Reach out to our mental health professionals today and begin your journey towards greater emotional well-being and personal growth. Contact us today by calling 212-960-8626 or by filling out our contact form, and take the first step towards healing your inner child.