Healing Your Inner Child Starts With These 9 Tips

The following article includes discussion about childhood trauma.

When most people talk about their inner child, they're often referring to that childlike part of themselves that stays youthful, hopeful, and innocent, no matter how much they age. It could be the part of you that still gets the same joy out of baking cookies as you did when you were 10 years old. Or for you, getting in touch with your inner child might mean going back home for a while and finding a sense of comfort in the safety of familiarity. There are a few ways that you might define or interpret exactly what your inner child is, but when it comes to the practice of healing your inner child, this refers to working through childhood trauma that you may still be carrying with you through adulthood.


Better Up explains that the scars imprinted on us in childhood (physical and metaphorical) can go on to dictate our feelings, our thoughts, and ultimately, our behaviors as adults. In this sense, inner child work begins with recognizing the needs we had as children which went unmet. It involves a lot of reflection and sometimes uncomfortable trips down memory lane to work out what happened back then, and how it's still affecting you today. Once you've uncovered where your inner child is hurting, you can begin to reparent yourself and rewrite the narrative that's been etched into your mind. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Look at your present behavior

The first step in healing your inner child is to recognize the impact that the trauma you experienced as a young person is having on your life now. This may seem like you're working backwards, analyzing the effects of the trauma before figuring out where that pain actually started. But looking at your present behavior and the areas of your life that you'd like to improve will often help you pinpoint where those problems began.


Identify triggers or recurring issues that you're experiencing and trace them back as far as you can. Think about your early memories that may be related to present problems without discounting anything. It may seem like your parent yelling at you as a child has nothing to do with why you keep dating people who treat you poorly now, but there may be a connection. This isn't about rewriting those memories or picking them apart. Begin by simply recognizing in what ways you are suffering now, and where that may have come from.

Keep in mind that pain and trauma are relative. Just because your experiences as a child weren't as severe as what others have had to go through, it doesn't mean they haven't affected you. For vulnerable, innocent children, things that may seem insignificant — like a parent yelling at you — can indeed go on to leave a mark. All pain is valid.



If you have identified the ways in which your inner child is hurting, but can't work out what incidents provoked this pain, you can try meditating. A regular meditation practice is useful for inner child work because it teaches you to be more mindful in your everyday life (via Healthline). This means you'll be more likely to notice your own feelings and triggers, which can help you to understand them more effectively. Quietening your conscious mind through meditation can also help you to find the answers that you couldn't hear before, because of your never-ending stream of thoughts.


Aim to meditate for five or 10 minutes at first, slowly building up time as you get more comfortable with the process. Mindful advises beginning by finding a quiet place where you won't be disturbed and sitting down. Notice your breaths and how your body feels as you sit. Keep focusing on your breath and notice when your mind has trailed off, without any judgment. Gently return your focus to your breathing. Repeat the process until the time is up.

Furthermore, meditation or mindfulness can teach you how to notice and sit with uncomfortable feelings that may come up. Your inner child may be hurting because you have repressed negative emotions that you should have processed when you were younger, so this practice can be extremely helpful in working through that built-up pain now.


Observe, but don't judge

A huge part of healing your inner child is learning to notice and observe things without judging yourself. This applies when you're combing through your memories and looking back on your life, just as it does when you're meditating. As you're dealing with trauma and negative experiences, uncomfortable memories and feelings are often part of the package.


This is often harder than most people imagine it to be. It can help to visualize yourself as an objective second person as you observe your feelings and memories. Imagine that you're an archeologist studying ruins. You're not making judgments about the artifacts that you find or drawing emotional conclusions; you're simply taking note of what you discover.

It can be painful to replay old memories that caused you long-term pain, particularly if you have suppressed them until now. Remember that healing your inner child requires you to understand what happened, even if it's uncomfortable. It's okay to feel uncomfortable. Notice whatever emotions come up and accept them without trying to stop them or push them away.


Write a letter

An effective way to understand, process, and accept pain from your childhood is by writing a letter. Sometimes, we're able to express things in writing that we didn't even know we felt, at least on a conscious level.


Author and research psychologist Dr. Diana Raab explained to Healthline that it's particularly helpful to write a letter addressed to your younger self from your adult self. Discuss negative memories that you may not have fully grasped as a child, analyzing them through an informed adult lens. For example, if a teacher at school told you that you'd never amount to anything, explain to your younger self that the teacher did not actually have the ability to make that assessment. Perhaps they were unhappy or stressed in their own life and took their emotions out on you. Whatever the situation is, talking through those incidents with your inner child from an objective, adult perspective can help to ease some of the pain.


Along with explaining things to your inner child, you can also ask them questions to better comprehend their pain. Asking questions about how your inner child feels through a letter will give you the opportunity to absorb those questions and find the answer within you, even if it takes a little while.

Challenge limiting beliefs

Limiting beliefs are false beliefs we have that hold us back from reaching our potential (via Mark Manson). For example, you might believe that you're terrible at playing football because you were always told that girls don't play sports. This kind of belief is likely to stop you from ever playing a game and finding out that you're actually incredibly talented. Often, limiting beliefs stem from negative experiences, which is how they relate to inner child work. Your inner child may be clutching on to the limiting beliefs holding you back today, because they first came about when you were just a child.


Start to challenge your limiting beliefs by first identifying them. As you look back through your memories, meditate, and start a dialogue with your inner child, those limiting beliefs should start to come to the surface. If you need help figuring out what they are, remember that limiting beliefs often begin with the words, "I can't" or "I am not." Whether it's "I can't play football" or "I am not lovable," look out for those restrictions you're placing upon yourself.

One you've found your limiting beliefs, challenge them with the facts that you now know, as an adult. If you're thinking you aren't lovable, write down a list of reasons why you are. Then replace the old limiting belief with a new affirmation: "I can play football" or "I am lovable." Repeat the affirmations frequently until they sink in.


Show yourself love and compassion

The trauma that we carry with us through life can often be traced back to a lack of love and compassion we experienced as children. As a child, you deserved to be loved and cared for. If that fundamental need wasn't met, it wasn't your fault, but you can work to meet that need now. Experts often refer to this as "re-parenting."


Speaking to PsychCentral, Florida-based therapist and founder of Lifescape Integrative Therapy Dr. Charity Godfrey, LMHC, explained that this is the crux of healing your inner child: "Inner child work is the process of re-parenting the 'littles' that were neglected, abused, abandoned, etc. during childhood."

It can feel a little strange to practice self-love and compassion when you're in the habit of being hard on yourself, or if you feel unlovable. But there are several techniques that you can use to show yourself love, even if you don't fully believe that you are worthy yet. One of these is mirror work, which involves stating powerful self-love affirmations while looking into your own eyes in the mirror. You could also try hugging yourself, rocking if you feel like it, to show your inner child the love they deserve.


If those steps still feel too overwhelming, start by simply monitoring your negative self-talk. When you catch yourself saying or thinking something negative about yourself, come to your own defense by challenging those critical comments.

Focus on happy moments

Negative memories can have a lot of power over us, but there's a silver lining: Positive memories can be powerful, too. Sometimes, remembering and focusing on your happy memories from childhood can be a huge step in healing your inner child, per PsychCentral. This is because those happy memories provide a safe and comfortable space for your inner child to retreat to. These memories are particularly helpful to revert back to when you're feeling stressed and overwhelmed.


Think back to your favorite memories and pay attention to the details of them. Maybe your best memories were days at the beach with your family. Or they might even have been going on school camp. Picture the scene as if it's happening in front of you. What can you see, hear, touch, and smell? Replay the moments and make them real again.

If you don't have any happy memories, it's also okay to imagine one. Conjure up a happy scenario that you would have loved to experience as a child and let your inner child spend some time there.

Rekindle what you loved to do as a child

Many people feel that they're truly getting in touch with their inner child when they do something that they loved to do as a kid. According to LonerWolf, rekindling the things you loved to do as a child can teach you things about your adult self. At the same time, you can nurture that childlike part of you by reinforcing that their needs and wants matter.


The responsibilities of adult life often make us feel guilty for having time to ourselves or enjoying activities that aren't "mature." But it's absolutely okay to still enjoy and make time for things that used to make you happy, even if you have to adapt them a little. Loved finger painting as a kid? Maybe you can take an art class. Miss playing soccer? Take a ball to your local park and have a kick, or join an amateur team.

By the time many kids reach their teens, they're taught to abandon extra-curricular activities that they aren't going to pursue professionally. So you may have to remind yourself that you're allowed to spend time on things that aren't for financial or social gains. You can play soccer after work, even if you're never going to be a professional soccer player. Give yourself that permission.


Speak to a professional

These exercises and tips can all be helpful in healing your inner child. But unfortunately, there's not a one-size-fits-all approach because everyone is different. When you're carrying significant childhood trauma, or you've been taught to repress all your emotions, it can be very difficult to unpack that on your own. If you are struggling to identify the sources of your pain or process them, you can try reaching out to a professional.


A qualified, experienced, and trained therapist can help you get to the bottom of the problems appearing in your life. An objective voice is especially helpful if you find that you're judging yourself for your memories and feelings. They can help you to identify sources of trauma and limiting beliefs, and give you the tools you need to overcome them.

Ultimately, the goal of inner child work is to heal the pain you're carrying around in your everyday life. You deserve to leave that baggage behind you, and there's no shame in doing whatever you need to in order to achieve that goal.