The Garden of Inner Children

  • by

Everyone’s personality features the aspects of a child, an adult, and a parent. Today, we will talk about the child’s aspect. It contains all of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors associate with the young age. Usually, this aspect is called the Inner Child. However, in truth, there isn’t just one child, there’s a whole kindergarten of kids living inside of us. 

1. The Adaptive Child. 

Throughout his or her whole childhood, a child adapts to their parents and other people around them. Mom and Dad tell you to say “Thank you” when you are given something, to say hello to the neighbors, even if you don’t like them, to use a handkerchief if you have a runny nose and not your sleeve, even though the sleeve is so much more convenient. 

A child might notice that his or her mother doesn’t like it when he or she screams, has fun, and runs around, so the child begins to act calm and quiet despite wanting something completely different. Nevertheless, Dad always approves of the smiles and laughter and acts discontent when the child is acting angry or crying. This is how the child learns to suppress anger and sadness in the presence of his or her Dad, despite feeling different, in order not to lose Dad’s favor. 

Even as an adult, this person continues to use the same behavioral patterns. 

He or she is in the state of the Adaptive Child when adhering to the rules of crossing the street, saying “thank you” and “please”, etc. In this case, the Adaptive Child is useful as it allows to comply with the norms and principles that help us to survive and develop our social contacts thanks to being polite. 

However, this Child also has a flip side associated with the transfer of child’s behaviors and manipulations into the adult life, which significantly complicates living and prevents the satisfaction of the real needs, actualization of desires, and experiencing pleasure.  

When Mila was a kid, she noticed that whenever she got angry, her Mom and Dad found her behavior horrible and started to ignore her. Then, the girl learnt to suppress her anger not to lose contact with her parents. Now, when Mila is 25, if someone makes her angry by hurting her or causing discomfort, she stays silent and smiles like an “ideal” Adaptive Child.

2. The Rioting Child.

Children are prone to rioting. They get tired of the rules, they want to discover the limits and impose their own rules. So, despite all the indications, a child defiantly blows his or her nose into the sleeve, calls unpleasant people bad names, and screams, swears, and stomps their feet in the presence of a mother who loves his or her child when they are calm and quiet. Feeling tired of the endless lectures on the importance of education, a child might start to skip classes and ignore homework.

An adult can also enter the state of the Rioting Child when feeling sick of all the constraints.

Andrei is tired of his controlling and demanding life and, feeling like a Riot, sends her to hell and goes out with his friends all night.

 Such a childish protest occurs when it doesn’t seem possible to find an agreement in an “adult” way, when the system the person used to live in is unbearable, and when it’s too hard to suppress one’s feelings. Then, an explosion occurs. 

However, the Rioting Child also possesses the resources and capabilities to be found. What matters is trying to notice the dissatisfaction from the start. The desire to “go on strike”, be it in personal life or at work, is a valuable signal saying that the way your life or one of its parts is organized now does not suit you. Then, you can use your adult aspect to evaluate the situation an come up with a plan of changing it. 

Oleg has been working as a legal consultant for a company for a long time, and he feels dissatisfied because his salary hasn’t increased in a while, he is often forced to stay at work after the official hours, and he cannot go on a vacation when he wants to. He captures the anger of his Inner Riot, but instead of stomping his feet in front of his boss, he has a constructive dialog with him and asks for a promotion. 

His boss refuses to satisfy Oleg’s demands, so he first switches to freelance and then opens his own legal firm where he makes 3 times more and can go on a vacation whenever he wants.

3. The Traumatized Child. 

This aspect of a personality preserves the memories of all the painful episodes that occurred when we were children and teenagers. Those are the times when the child was hurt through humiliation, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, and did not receive any support or help in living though his or her complex and intense feelings afterwards. When the emotions are suppressed rather than lived through, they remain inside of a person, and once grown up, he or she can come in contact with these emotions when the current situation resembles the childhood trauma, even if vaguely.

When Olga was little, her parents would criticize her all the time: she was doing everything wrong, “butter fingers”, an unpleasant and useless child. The little girl felt very hurt, offended and sad, but no one could support her, so she had to manage on her own, that is, to suppress everything. Then, she also came to the conclusion that something was wrong with her, and she could never be good enough. Now, whenever her boss criticizes her reports (even though he is being calm and reasonable), Olga begins to cry in his office and struggles to calm down. 

When Alyona was a little girl, her dad would always reject her. He didn’t want to spend any time with her, he could end their communication abruptly and leave, and when he decided to divorce her mother, he told Alyona that their marriage fell apart because she was born. Now that Alyona is an adult and has a boyfriend, whenever he gets up abruptly and goes into another room or takes a while to reply to her messages (usually, because he’s very busy at work), she thinks that he is abandoning her and that she is the cause.

In these examples, women encounter their Traumatized Child aspects in real life situations. They do not react adequately because they experience additional feelings coming from their childhood traumas and they make wrong conclusions based on them.

If you encounter such complex feelings and realize that it is a flash back from your childhood, it is important to pay attention to that childhood story, to grieve about it in order to free yourself from the old emotions, to ask for support from your close ones or a psychologist, but not leave it untreated. The more childhood traumas are resolved, the freer you will feel, and you will be able to perceive the world and other people as they are rather than through the prism of your pain.

The Traumatized Child has an advantage: thanks to this aspect, we can understand the pain and suffering of other people and empathize with them. 

4. The Free or Natural Child.

When a child does not adapt to the expectations of his or her parents, but doesn’t riot, and simply does what he or she wants, it’s behaving like the Free or Natural Child. You feel like drawing, so you draw; you are tired of it, so you give up; you want to run, so you run. A kid in the neighborhood pushes you, you feel angry and push him back.

When an adult is in the state of the Free Child, he or she behaves in a relaxed manner and acts on one’s own desires. Thanks to this aspect, a person shares his or her affinities or dislikes with other people. This is where the true desires reside, this is the source of the creative energy. It’s the Free Child who feels and realizes what he or she wants to be in life, while the Adult aspect decides how to achieve that and acts.

When a parent is playing with their child, he or she enters the state of the Natural Child and can enjoy the process, so the game works out. Playing with a kid while being in the Adult aspect is boring and difficult.

However, this resourceful and bright aspect of our personality has an inflection point. If all the impulses of the Child are realized, a person can start to ignore the table manners. Guided by the Free Child, one can drive at a very high speed, which is illegal. Some people constantly live in the state of this Child, and it’s difficult for them to make decisions, to take responsibility for their own life, to earn money, etc.