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9 Ways to Self-Parent

Image of a family at a amusement park. Raleigh Psychotherapy, Counseling, Katherine Broadway

Self-parenting is the way to fill unmet needs from childhood and build a strong sense of self-esteem and self-worth. It provides new experiences designed to create long-lasting changes in you brain. These changes lead to more effective and satisfying behavior, which in turn lead to better outcomes in your life.

Last week, we looked at some of the ways good parents nurture children, and used them as models for ways we can be good parents to ourselves. This week, we will examine more qualities and functions of the inner parent.

9 Next Steps for the Inner Parent

1. Accept and acknowledge your Inner Child’s feelings and create emotional boundaries:

Children have to learn what feelings are, how to name them and how to express them. Parents and other caretakers teach children about feelings by giving those names to them without judgment.

In this way, we learn how to understand our feelings and how to use them. The purpose of feelings is to give information so we can make decisions about what is happening to us.

Children get overwhelmed when they have intense feelings. It is at that time that the parent needs to be able to be bigger than the child. Parents need to say words and take action. This teaches the child how to navigate large and overwhelming feelings.

Example: Allow yourself to have your feelings and name them correctly. Do not tell yourself that you are bad for feeling what you feel. Learn how to use your feelings to help yourself.

2. Model good behavior:

Children learn through the actions of caretakers. What they see influences them more than what they hear. Parents need to be able to control their own emotions, and behavior.

Example: When you feel angry, learn to express it in a positive way. Use the energy from the emotion to take a necessary action. Learn to express your emotions in a timely manner so that they do not build up and get out of control.

3. Set reasonable expectations and have consistent boundaries:

When boundaries are clear and reasonable and consistent, a child knows what to expect. When a child’s world is well defined, the child is safe and can explore.

Example: It is important to be clear about what you expect of yourself and live by your commitments to yourself. Set your intentions to do the best you can most of the time.

4. Keep a regular schedule:

As adults we need to be able to do the things we do not like or want to do. The way children learn to do this is through having a regular routine and schedule. It teaches discipline and responsibility. It creates an environment that is clear and not confusing.

Example: Create a daily plan. Eat in healthy ways at regular times. This gives

your Inner Child a feeling of safety and consistency.

5. Create routines and rituals:

After you have created a regular schedule, it is important to have routines and rituals. These are a way to prepare your inner child for the daily, weekly monthly and yearly transitions in life.

Example: There needs to be a bedtime ritual that prepares your Inner Child to wind down from the day. Turn the television off, dim the lights, play soft music. You can also have a routine in the morning to prepare yourself for your day.

6. Don’t neglect or hurt your Inner Child:

Children learn they have value by the way you talk to them, treat them and speak to others about them. When you see a child through the eyes of love, they believe themselves to be worthy and lovable.

Example: Learn to say good things about yourself to others. This is not bragging but acknowledging your worth. Learn to speak lovingly to yourself. See yourself as a person of worth and value. It will make your life more satisfying and less lonely.

7. Teach your Inner Child what you value:

Many adults who come from neglectful and abusive homes were not taught values or even morals. Look around and learn what it takes to be a loving, helpful member of your community. Talk to yourself about the importance of being honest, respecting yourself and others. Think about the value and role of helping others and contributing the welfare of others.

Example: Doing good, behaving well and caring about others, will add to your self-worth and self-esteem.

8. You need a break from your Inner Child:

If you do not take care of yourself first, you will not have the resources you need to do the hard work of parenting. Don’t spend all your time thinking about healing and parenting your Inner Child. Nurture your whole self.

Example: Find healthy distractions and hobbies. Read a book and fill your mind with something interesting. Learn something new and absorbing.

9. Strengthen your support system:

You cannot and do not have to do this alone. Surround yourself with positive supportive people who admire you and accept you for who you are.

Self-parenting is extremely important in our growth and healing. It is important to become your own best friend. Parents are not their children's friends. Self-parenting is a little different in that you need to be both your own good parent and your own best friend. This is the true antidote to loneliness.

There are many ways to parent yourself. It is not an easy task, but it can be done and will get easier over time. If you are struggling to find healthy ways to re-parent yourself, I can help you learn new and fun ways. Call me at (919) 881-2001

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