8 Tiny Things I Do To Heal My Inner Vulnerable Child

Are you honoring the inner child in you?

Woman honoring her inner child, hugging her inner child Grusho Anna | Shutterstock

Everyone says we should take care of our inner child. For some of us, that may involve reparenting or learning to prioritize self-care. For others, it’s a way to tap into joy, confidence, and creativity. Whatever our motivation, it’s clear that being in touch with our inner child is beneficial to our lives.

There are parts of my grownup life that would have surprised me as a child. Most of it involves technology we didn’t have then, but some of it involves the changes I’ve made through the years. The younger version of me might be mystified about how I got here, but I know that I’m honoring my inner child now. It gives me a glow of satisfaction every time I do something that would make that child in me proud of the adult I’ve become.


Here are 8 tiny things I do to nurture my inner vulnerable child:

1. Saving the Earth

The younger me was very concerned with saving the Earth. I was passionate about all things nature-related. I picked up litter off the side of my street, preached the benefits of recycling, and urged people to make choices that would contribute to a healthier planet.

I know that my inner child is so proud of the adult I’ve become — the one who recycles and reuses to avoid waste, the one who still picks up litter on the side of the street, and the one who has made a garden that is an actual wildlife habitat. I feed the birds and make homes for bees, bats, and frogs. I compost, use rain barrels, and make sustainable replacements. I’m living a life that attempts to contribute to a better, healthier Earth. I can feel the glow of pride of my inner child with every choice that honors her concern.


2. Growing a beautiful, wild garden

My inner child also takes pride in my beautiful, wild garden. I remember reading The Secret Garden for the first time and longing for a place like that. I grew up with gardening — shelling peas and shucking corn with my mother. My grandmother was always out puttering in her garden, and I remember my great-grandmother doing that as well.

For a little while, I was sure the green thumb had missed me entirely. I couldn’t keep a succulent alive. But then, the pandemic happened, and I realized that the problem wasn’t my lack of gardening talent, but the lack of time and attention I had given it. I spent time learning how to grow things, and I know my wild, beautiful garden is something that delights my inner child.

3. Taking care of a menagerie of pets

One of my earliest memories is being a very small child sitting out on a porch swing and having a conversation with my cat. You may say it was one-sided, but my active imagination would have vehemently disagreed. I always had a strong affinity for wildlife, and my inner child would be delighted at my adult choices.


I have a dog, four cats, and ten chickens. I planned for the dog. The cats and chickens were a delightful surprise to me. I didn’t know I wanted them until I did. They add so much joy to my life, and I don’t even mind the responsibility of them. I know my inner child is tickled that I have such loving relationships with all my pets. When I’m toting around a chicken and talking to it, my inner child is glowing with glee.

RELATED: 7 Scientific Ways Having A Pet Makes You A Better Person

4. Staying friends forever

My history is dotted with relocations. I wanted my friends to be friends forever. I know that my inner child is happy that I have kept in touch with so many of my friends over the years. While I’ve lost touch with some and others have opted out of my life over the years, I’m happy to say that I’ve stayed forever friends with so many of the people I knew and loved in childhood. Maybe we’re spread out and don’t get to spend time together in person, but I love that they're a mere message away.

5. Having life adventures

My inner child is so proud of me for having adventures and traveling. It seems like such a small thing, but I had such big dreams considering how I grew up. The younger me would be thrilled that I’ve done things and seen things she was always afraid would be out of reach.


My inner child has jumped out of airplanes with me and traveled to Ireland. She’s gone to New York City many times and sat wide-eyed with wonder watching Broadway shows and strolling through Central Park. She’s accompanied me on cruise ships and delighted in the wonder that is scuba diving. So many of my choices have been possible because my inner child's delight is still so fresh. I’ve stayed connected to the things that always brought me joy, and every new adventure is a chance to make my inner child proud.

woman scuba diving adiprayogo liemena / Shutterstock

6. Breaking cycles

Even as a child, I could spot what was functional and dysfunctional. Long before I studied to become a mental health therapist, I understood how people worked because I was always watching them. While childhood trauma likely contributed to that sort of hypervigilance, it’s also possible that having empathic tendencies exacerbated the trauma. Chicken and egg, as it were.


I know my inner child would be proud that I’ve become a breaker of cycles. I didn’t just follow the carefully trodden path. I thought about the why of it, and I made healthier choices along the way. My healing journey has made it possible to look at the world without victimhood or blame. It’s helped me create healthier habits that I’m teaching my children.

RELATED: 8 Ways To Break Generational Curses & Trauma

7. Enjoying a more functional family

I know my inner child wanted a family that felt functional and close. We might not have always succeeded in that regard during my childhood years, but as an adult, I’ve enjoyed closer family relationships. If I’m honest, I wasn’t sure it would ever happen. If there’s “one in every family,” I’m that one. I didn’t quite fit in. My belief systems just didn’t mesh with everyone else’s. I was afraid I would never be loved and accepted just as I am.

What my inner child didn’t know then — but has learned now is that healing past trauma can help facilitate stronger, healthier relationships. I can’t say that I fit in or ever will. But I’ve made a place for myself. I’ve learned to have closer relationships even though there’s much we don’t agree on. I’ve centered those relationships on love, and they aren’t contingent on agreeing with one another at all.


8. Telling stories

My inner child is delighted that I’ve become a storyteller. When I’m not writing a blog or a novel, I’m telling a story to get a laugh from friends. I always liked to entertain people, and writing was my first love. Every time I do something to live that dream, my inner child is proud.

My dreams never just died, even if there were years when they were dormant. I know that every story I’m telling isn’t just one I’m sharing with others. It’s a story I’m telling that inner child whose imagination never, ever dims.

RELATED: 23 Questions I Had To Ask To Heal My Inner Child

The benefits of being in touch with your inner child

There are many benefits of inner child work. They aren’t just anecdotal. Studies have shown that this work can reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety, improve daily functioning and quality of life, foster authenticity, and contribute to healthier relationships.


There’s also an important element of healing in inner child work. It’s not just about embracing playfulness, authenticity, and joy. It’s equally important to address childhood wounds. For some, this requires a total reparenting. For others, it could simply mean recreating childhood experiences they missed out on. I feel like my inner child journey involved aspects of reparenting but primarily focused on healing past trauma.

Being able to heal and integrate past experiences has allowed me to look back on my childhood with a renewed perspective. I can get in touch with the creativity and joy without fear of past shadows haunting my footsteps as I do. That healing has contributed to a better quality of life and has helped keep my inner child alive and well.

To me, making my inner child proud means validating how she felt then — and how I truly feel now. In childhood, we haven’t yet learned all the messages society will push on us. We can be a little understandably feral, but when we grow into adults, there’s an expectation of conformity. “Childish” becomes an insult. We’re told to leave the old things behind and embrace a whole new existence without ever acknowledging the importance of the past.


So, yes, I feel pride every time that I’m able to do things that my wild inner child would appreciate. Every time I stand up for myself. Every time I make a choice that honors who I am even if it goes against the grain. Every time I show that I’m still me, no matter how much time passes.

The alive inner child

I’ve kept my inner child alive and very close to me. I try to honor her whenever and wherever I can. Sometimes, my children talk about being afraid to grow up and leave childhood behind. I tell them that it’s a choice. We don’t have to leave it behind at all. I know that I’ve carried it with me.

I'm 42 now and still feel all the ages and stages behind me. I'm still the girl sitting in the treehouse dreaming dreams or running wild through the neighborhood with a pack of friends. I'm the one picking cherries in my grandmother’s yard and dreaming of my very own secret garden. I am curled up with a book and escaping with an adventure or laughing so hard tears run down my face. I am her, and she is me. So, when I say my inner child is proud of who I’ve become, I feel that glow of pride, too.

RELATED: How To Nourish And Heal Your Inner Child


Crystal Jackson is a former therapist and the author of the 'Heart of Madison' series. Her work has been featured on Medium, Elite Daily, Thought Catalog, The Good Men Project, Elephant Journal, and Mamamia.