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Embracing Your Inner Child

This applies to anyone, but I really want to emphasize this to my fellow survivors who went through trauma as children and/or teenagers.


I’m so sorry you lost part, most or all of your childhood. That doesn’t mean it’s too late to give your inner child what you can. This includes comfort but it also includes doing the things you didn’t get to if you can.


Play the fun games. Buy the tasty treats. Go on adventures.


It’s never too late to feel a little more of the kind of joy you had (or should have had) as a child. You may not be able to be a child again, but you can still help and support your inner child.


You might have been told that a fun idea you had was “silly” or even “stupid.” When you have those thoughts now, instead of rejecting it, embrace the “silly” idea and let yourself enjoy it. It’s not shameful or wrong to do the things your inner child wants to do. It’s okay to be “immature” sometimes, even if you’re twenty years old. Or thirty. Or sixty. I just want to say that I don’t think any of this is immature, but I know that is a bias and judgement a lot of us might pass on ourselves. 


A short, not at all complete list of things you might do for your inner child:

  • Watch childhood movies or tv shows (Did you watch “Blues Clues”, or “Pokemon”? Maybe “The Land Before Time”? There’s no reason you can’t still enjoy them.)

  • Listen to “silly” music, maybe singing along or dancing to it (for me, one favourite is “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King” from The Lion King. I know every word and have a dance party everytime it comes on my shuffle.)

  • Go to the park and use the swings (I don’t know why, but flying up just a few feet can make me forget all my “grown-up” worries)

  • Have a treat just because (maybe that big sundae your parents never let you have, or the chicken nuggets you haven’t had in a decade). Maybe you want to fulfil your childhood dream of having ice cream for breakfast! 

  • Go to the toy store - maybe even get some stuffed animals or other toy items. (I just recently realized that I can fulfill my childhood dream of collecting certain toys that I never got to have when I was younger!) 

  • Ride a roller coaster and scream your head off on the way down (I like to try to be in the very first car)

  • Make creative, crafty stuff - like a painting or drawing, or decorating a picture on construction paper with googly eyes and glitter or a clay model with a weirdly shaped head (even if the result looks like something you’d expect to see in a kindergarten class, or the process makes a mess that looks like a glitter bomb went off)


Another aspect of embracing your inner child is trying to give your inner child the person you needed when you were a child. 


This might mean standing up for yourself when others try to put you down or take credit for things you’ve done, even (or especially) if no one else spoke up for you when you were a child. 

It might mean offering comfort and compassion to yourself, and not being too hard on yourself when you make mistakes that you would have been insulted for as a child or don’t know something that “everyone learns as a child.” Maybe now you can teach yourself that accidents happen, and spilling a drink or breaking a plate is not the disaster and failure of character that you were told as a child. 


It might mean being patient with yourself when something is harder to do than you feel like it should be (whether you actually aren’t able to do it as easily as others, or you have unrealistic expectations of its difficulty because of the expectations put on you as a child). There are lots of instructional videos out there to help you to gain basic cooking or cleaning skills. If you never really learned to read, there are programs to help you. If you weren’t allowed or able to learn to manage your emotions or relationships in healthy ways, there’s help out there for you. There is absolutely no shame in not learning any kind of skills you feel you “should” have learned as a child, and it is okay to learn them as an adult.


You may have had to grow up too fast. You may not have been allowed to do the fun things. You may have suffered trauma that shattered your childhood. I’m here to tell you that you still have an inner child, and embracing that inner child is good for you. Just because you’re an adult, at any age, doesn’t mean that you’re too old to have fun.


No one else gets to decide what’s right for you - you get to decide what you enjoy and what you want.


And it’s never too late to remember, indulge, listen to, and embrace your inner child. Let them be a part of how you choose to move forward. It’s time for us to realize that there is no one way to be an adult, and we get to decide what being an adult means to us. And if that means I want to rent a bouncy castle for my birthday, then that is my perfectly valid version of an adult birthday (a birthday which my inner child would be thrilled about, by the way).


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