It’s a controversial opinion but I think the inner child needs more than compassionate unconditional love.
It’s not enough to just provide gentle understanding … after all, children need more than just simple acknowledgment. They need discipline to thrive. So while it’s tempting to give your scared and wounded inner kid everything it demands, it’s not going to help either of you. Just like a kid demanding more candy – your inner child will create many excuses as to why it needs to keep engaging in self-harming behaviors (think: addictions, codependency, lashing out, shutting down) to protect him or herself.
But the inner child can keep us trapped in cycles of self-defeating behavior or encased in fear & and unable to branch out behind familiar patterns of engagement. The inner child will always keep us on the road of familiar because it feels SAFE….even if it’s not the best or most successful way for us.
Training your inner mind or inner child is just like giving a child compassionate discipline – firm, loving and consistent. Acknowledge (don’t try to ignore or push extreme feelings of the inner child) and then say: “we’re working together now, you’re safe but I’m in charge & I’m going to guide us through this.”
Ultimately, you can work with your inner child and educate them enough that they will begin to trust you. But you must be an engaged, confident leader and you must not let your inner child run amok … keep serving them the truth of your new reality and helping guide them when they want to act out or freeze up. This will lead to a more harmonious and integrated relationship between you and your inner child and lead to a happier more peaceful existence overall.