Inner adult vs. inner child

By David Joel Miller MS Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Sad child

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Have your inner people made peace?

Lots of people talk about their need to do “inner child” work. Not many tell me they need to work on their inner adult. You need to get these two parts of you to live in peace. One rule of parenting is that parents need to be parents and children need to be children. Make sure your “inner family” gets its roles straight.

Don’t let your inner child take over running your adult life.

Your inner adult needs to run the adult parts of your life. We all have those childish parts of us. They have their good and their bad. Preserve that childish wonder about life. Children experience everything for the first time. Keep that open spirit. Children can be very creative. They can also be very selfish and hurt.

The inner child may need to cry and grieve over the past. They can stay stuck in the pain and the not wanting things to be the way they are for a long time. That childish part of you wants things to have been different.

The inner adult needs to recognize that now is not then. The past may have made you who you are but you don’t need to continue to live in the past. You need to find ways to stop letting those childhood experiences control your life now when it is the adult in you that needs to take the lead.

The inner child is that unknowing part of us that sees possibilities instead of rules. For a child, the soup dish might also make a good hat. The inner child knows that a box makes a great toy. The inner child can cry for hours over dropping a cookie in the sand.

The inner adult becomes a censor, they know toys are for playing and boxes are containers to put things in. The inner adult may be less creative unless they force themselves to stay open to other possibilities.

The inner adult is the one that picks up the sandy cookie and throws it away. The inner adult is the one that goes and gets another cookie or tells the self that “self you really don’t need another cookie.”

Your inner child does not know how to forgive its self for making mistakes. The inner child can be so afraid of criticism that it punishes itself before an adult can punish it.

Your inner adult will need to tell that inner child that it was OK to make mistakes. Your inner adult is the part that does the forgiving, the letting go and discovers that you are far more than the sum total of all the errors you have made so far.

The inner adult can have compassion and can care for the whole of you.

One way you know your inner adult is in control is when your behavior begins to become more mature and responsible.

Inner child and inner adult are only two of many possible roles you may enact each and every day. Sometimes you will be a parent or partner. Other times you will be an employee or a boss. None of these roles it the full and total you.

Get all these roles, all these potential inner selves to cooperate and work together on the same team. Just make sure when it is time to be a responsible adult you have the inner adult in control of the actions.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch intends to kill them.

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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at

2 thoughts on “Inner adult vs. inner child

  1. Pingback: Self-Doubt – silencing the inner critic | counselorssoapbox

  2. I’m feeling a little low today. *sigh* this post is interesting to me as I’m always fighting this adult child thing with myself! I suppose that doesn’t make sense. Today I don’t think I can articulate any better than that. I know my mood will change, so I have to get off the computer and go do my adult responsibilities! I just want to thank you for all the time you spend writing these posts. I just want you to know I’m listening and I’m learning! Thanks David:) …Paula x


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