The Inner Child Project:
The Toddler Self
18 months-3 years
The Toddler is mobile enough to walk away from the caregiver and verbal enough to refuse and protest. They are learning how to establish and maintain personal boundaries- emotional and physical separations from the caretakers. This teaches you how to be independent. Testing how much you can participate in the outside world and still come back to your caretaker and be loved is a dynamic you will carry into every relationship.
In The Inner Child Workbook, under the section for the Toddler Self, exercise #1 asks 5 questions which deal with saying and being told no as well as honoring boundaries. These question are meant to make you think about your ideas and behaviors now and how they effect your relationships. Exercise #2 is an extension of thinking about how we carry these issues into our lives today. This exercise was very eye opening and ends with a short summary of problems you need to address with your Toddler Self.
I found that I needed to work on:
- Boundaries- taking on the feelings of others and becoming one person Possibly I had rigid boundaries from my caregiver.
- Saying No- maybe I wasn't allowed to say no or I was made to feel shameful when I did.
- Independence- I don't feel safe enough to be independent and separate. Possibly an aggressive caregiver.
- Trust - Supposed to be able to be independent and go away from your caregiver but come back and check in and trust that when you do you are still loved. One of my biggest issues is with trust so maybe this was not happening.
At this point I decided to stop the exercises and create a quick mixed media painting of a toddler who feels the way that I would at that stage in life under the above mentioned conditions. As I am drawing and painting, I am acknowledging the pain of the Inner Toddler. Then I use my words to sooth and fix the concerns, issues, and behaviors of this Inner Child.