Reparenting is a term used in holistic therapy, talk based therapies, counseling and psychotherapy based practices. Using a model not dissimilar to how we parent in the external world, reparenting is an internal process whereby we parent ourselves.
The main distinction is that a parent self is created within and acts as a support, nurturer and interface to the inner child. Inner child work is becoming more prevalent in therapy and counseling based settings as a means of integrating and healing the past.
Learning a technique to parent oneself requires discipline, patience and persistence. Every one of us has fundamental needs that do not change over the course of our lives. Due to the way we were parented, we inevitably didn’t get our needs met one hundred percent of the time.
Our parents did the best they could, with the capacity and resources they had at the time, as well as the choices they made. Now in adulthood we have the opportunity to revisit how we were parented and make sound, conscious choices about how we wish to parent ourselves.
It’s an extremely effective and illuminating exercise and practice. As you become a parent to your inner child, you provide them with what they needed and did not receive during childhood. The role of the parent is to meet the needs of the inner child and build a lasting trust relationship.
This article presents an outline and offers some considerations for where to get started and what to build on for implementing parenting techniques for the inner child work and holistic therapy based practices.
Getting started with Reparenting
Researchers have found links between long term psychological benefits of self esteem with children who received affection early on in their childhood development. The impact on the primary years of childhood development highlights the importance of having our needs met as children such as receiving love, attention, support and affection.
As a parent to yourself, you become the person who gives your inner child (you) what you need. This enables you to heal the past, including wounds, trauma, energetic imbalances and create a healthier present and future.
Taking on the role of a parent involves being the listener, communicating effectively with your inner child and being available to receive valuable and insightful information from them. A significant part of building a trust relationship requires commitment to provide for and remain open to connect with your inner child and respond accordingly.
Beginning with checking in with your inner child daily is the first step. This can be taking an intentional pause, eyes open or closed, and ask your inner child how they are.
Inner child work is a life practice and as a parent you learn and grow as a result too. Learning the technique can be achieved during Inner Child Workshops.
Reparenting raises awareness, provides space to the inner child and allows one to be receptive to their needs. Reparenting therapy can be thought of along the similar lines of parenting; ask yourself the question, how do I want to parent myself?
Reparenting is an important aspect of integration healing that supports individuals towards wholeness; physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
Reparenting in practice
Begin by noticing your inner dialogue, or self talk
- How do you talk to yourself throughout the day? Are you using kind, supportive, compassionate words to yourself?
- Become aware of any negative self talk, such as the inner critic.
- Use mindfulness based practices to help you let go of critical or negative thoughts.
Create positive affirmations to boost resiliency
- Affirmations are a great tool to use to cultivate mindfulness based practices.
- They can be created by you, searched online for ideas and collect the ones that resonate and help with what you wish to bring in more of in your life.
- Doing affirmations first thing in the morning or last thing at night is a positive reinforcer to your inner child and self esteem.
- Examples include: “I am loving, loveable and loved”, “I am bringing confidence and compassion into my life” “I am worthy of unconditional love”.
Be present and validate your inner child
- The role of being a parent provides holding a safe space for your inner child to express freely and openly to you. Therefore not directly identifying with emotions as they arise enables the inner child to have space to release energy and express themselves.
- During an energetic or emotional release, the inner child may be crying and you might experience these tears as real, however, the parent is firmly rooted in the present, able to uphold the container for the inner child to release their emotions.
- This sends the important message to your inner child; you are seen, heard and witnessed.
Following an emotional or energetic release:
- Leave adequate time for your inner child to recover, calm down and then check back in with them afterwards to see how they are.
- Like in regular parenting, a child needs to feel safe and secure so checking in with them supports the trust relationship between you.
- Reassure your inner child they are safe and thank them for sharing with you.
- Reparenting involves supporting the inner child to let go of past wounds, old trauma, coping mechanisms and stories that are no longer serving you or needed.
- Explaining to the inner child that emotional and energetic release are part of the journey and most importantly that they are ok, acceptable and normal reassures them again of safety, which is paramount.
Remember to have fun!
- Spend time with your inner child doing things together that you both enjoy.
- You can ask your inner child for ideas and make time to do it. This builds further on the growing trust relationship that needs nurturing.
- You may rediscover activities you used to enjoy as a child and have long forgotten about.
Look after yourself; apply self care
- Doing one thing each day that is solely for you that refills your cup and restores your sense of well-being is an integral aspect to inner child and holistic healing.
- Begin small and take ten minutes each day, adding on to your routine to let it become natural and nourishing.
- Some examples may include a timeout for a herbal tea, relaxing bath, walk in nature, meditating, preparing a delicious meal.
- To identify what you need, ask yourself “What can I give myself?” “What do I need?”
- Self care is part of a healthy practice for overall well-being and health. It’s part of maintaining a mindful relationship with yourself.
Ready to begin parenting?
Remembering that reparenting is a life practice, so learning, healing and integration unfolds as this journey does with your inner child. It is a primary technique when beginning to integrate past wounds and trauma with your inner child.
The inner child holds a key to reveal the areas of childhood development that need support, reframing enabling personal growth and transformation in adulthood. An opportunity to make different choices for ourselves that weren’t available to us growing up during childhood is an aspect that makes this approach unique.
Learning to parent yourself opens up a space for those parts that have been hidden away, forgotten, ignored and experienced pain and suffering to be alleviated, released and freed. A technique that can be applied universally, it is accessible to all.
It is recommended that you find a practitioner, therapist or an appropriate, considered setting to support you in your reparenting journey. Once learned, the practice begins and is supportive for improved relationships, beginning with yourself, then extending to others.
If you enjoyed this article you can read more about internal dialogue and self talk which are also features of reparenting techniques.