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Reparenting: A Guide to Reframe and Respond to Your Child Self

Have you ever had anger or envy rise seemingly out of nowhere? Most of us are familiar with an emotional outburst we can’t fully explain. It seems like some unknown place deep inside feels hurt or scared and we react with little to no intentional response.

In situations like these our inner child may be at work.

I’ve seen many adages in the yoga community about healing our inner child or setting free the inner child, but this flowery language is sometimes misleading. In psychology, working to soothe the inner child is a practice called reparenting.
 

Reparenting is a mindfulness tool we use to re-frame some of our most basic responses to triggers.

 
Many coping techniques we use as adults were formed in childhood.

If we weren’t in a secure situation as a child experiencing fear, hurt or rejection for the first time, it’s possible the coping mechanisms we taught ourselves are not the most healthy, effective, or even appropriate as adults.

For many, a huge step in our spiritual journey is being able to mindfully respond to stress and remain present with our feelings. Reparenting is a powerful tool we can use to learn these things.

Guide to Self-Love : Acknowledging and Honoring Your Inner Child

Note: When it comes to wellness, you don’t have to do it alone! There are many certified professionals to help you reach your goals safely. Furthermore, you don’t need to be in crisis to reach out to a mental health professional. They can help you set foundations for healthy mental health propelling you into the life of your dreams.
 

 
 

What Is Reparenting? A Brief Overview

Reparenting was created in the 1960’s as a method a trained therapist would use during a regression exercise. Now, modern day psychologists like The Holistic Psychologist are teaching clients and patients how to self-reparent.

Reparenting is an opportunity to give yourself the loving support you might not have been able to get as a child.

This doesn’t have to mean you were in an abusive or traumatic environment. In fact, most people, even those in seemingly healthy and safe childhood environments, benefit from reparenting.

This is because your parents were human beings. This means they were flawed, imperfect and likely doing the best they could to give us attention and support. But our parents were only able to show up for us as much as they were able to show up for themselves, which may not have been much at all.
 

Reparenting is an opportunity to give yourself the loving support you might not have been able to get as a child.

 
For many, this means they did not feel capable of supporting the wide range of emotions children have, since they also didn’t listen to those very same emotions in themselves.

For some parents, carrying trauma from their own childhoods, they weren’t able to process their own feelings of abandonment and it resulted in either distancing themselves or over-attaching and not letting Child You experience anything on your own.

Reparenting is a mindfulness tool we use to re-frame some of our most basic responses to triggers. It uses a concept called neuroplasticity – the brain’s ability to rewire itself – to create new neural pathways between trigger and response.
 

 
 

How Does Reparenting Work? Here Is the 4-Step Process:

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These are the steps in the process of identifying and working through emotional triggers that carry a root childhood belief or trauma that led to internalized emotions that are surfacing in your life currently.
 

1. Notice When X Then Y

The first, and arguably the most difficult, step in the reparenting process is to become aware of when you are triggered before you react. Creating new pathways in the brain first requires us to set the parameters for our new understanding.
 

2. Get to the Root Cause

Typically, there are layers to our triggers. This is part of what makes transforming childhood trauma or learning new coping techniques so difficult.

Take time to ask yourself the childish question: Why? You’re angry. Why? Name an outward reason. Why? Name a deeper reason. Why? Discover a root hurt or struggle (we’ll go over this in more depth below).

This root is usually quite different from the specific trigger – it’s amazing how our internalized emotions come to the surface like a game of telephone many people log, only distantly like the origin.
 

3. Reframe In Order to Reparent

Identifying the trigger, peeling back the layers and approaching the situation with new eyes may help resolve the problem or trigger in the moment, but it won’t stop you from reacting automatically when the trigger appears again later.

Once the root need is uncovered, you can begin to reframe and reparent. Reframing is when we create the new pathway.
 

Reparenting is an act of self-love, a chance to know yourself more deeply and grow through acceptance and compassion.

 
This can express itself in many forms from journaling to letter writing, “I am” affirmations to meditations and movement, and more. Identify your Child You and speak directly to them as Adult You. Give them what they need: love, presence, validation or safety.
 

4. Respond From a New Lens of Perception

After the root hurt has been acknowledged, heard, and/or shifted, you are able to respond to the obstacle/trigger from a place of clarity.
 
 

Apply the Above 4 Steps In This Reparenting Exercise:

Here is an example of self-reparenting that you can apply in your everyday life.
 

When X Then Y

Your partner forgets to hang up their wet towel from the shower – again – and you feel anger bubbling up.
 

Get to the Root

Wet towel on the floor triggers anger. Pause and breathe. Ask: Why does this make me feel angry? What emotion is one level deeper?

Okay, I feel angry because this is not the first time I’ve asked them to pick up the towel. Why does that make me angry? I feel unheard. It isn’t about the towel at all, it’s about feeling unheard.

Why does feeling unheard make me angry? My mother would frequently multitask and I felt like she wasn’t listening to me at those times. I felt invisible, unimportant, and desperate.
 

Reframe

There are many different methods of reframing but it may go something like this:

When I was a child I felt unheard when my mother was multitasking. She was doing her best but she was unable to be present with me every moment. I am able to be with myself right now, though. Let me close my eyes and breathe.

“Child Me, I hear you. Child Me, you are safe and loved. Child Me, Adult Me hears you. You don’t need to yell to be heard. I am listening.”
 

Respond

When you feel ready, you may consciously choose how to respond to the trigger via soul-care or conscious conversation with the knowledge that it’s more important to feel heard than for the towel to be picked up (though, that would be nice too).
 
 

Reparenting Can Help You Reframe and Respond

reparent2
Reparenting may be difficult to work through. It may make you feel raw and uncomfortable. Do not push past your emotional limits and seek assistance if you find yourself feeling unsafe.

Reparenting is an act of self-love, a chance to know yourself more deeply and grow through acceptance and compassion.

Reparenting is an opportunity to connect to a childhood version of you whose needs were not being met. It is an exercise that creates new neural pathways so you may respond to emotional triggers more mindfully and in ways that serve your highest self.

Have you ever experienced self-reparenting or worked with your inner child? Is this something that you can see being helpful in your relationships and your life? Let us know! Comment, share or like.

All included information is not intended to treat or diagnose. The views expressed are those of the author and should be attributed solely to the author. For medical questions, please consult your healthcare provider.

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Teresa Adele

Teresa is a 200hr RYT, writer, and a certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. As a teacher and coach, she focuses on self-love, body positivity, and embracing challenges. She loves writing about the science behind holistic healing modalities, creative sequencing, and making whole-body wellness more accessible for everybody.

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