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.
This painting is of me as an infant. After working through the exercises for this developmental stage of my inner child, I could paint myself as a happy infant.
According to Cathryn Taylor in The Inner Child Workbook, There are several steps involved in dealing with childhood pain which are used at each level of child development AKA with each of your inner children.
Identify the pain
Researching your pain
Regressing to the feelings of your self at that level of child inner self
Objectifying your pain
Grieving your inner child's pain
Healing your pain and reclaiming your joy
Each of these steps is accompanied by numerous exercises to help you through this journey. If you are really interested in healing, many of our adult issues come from needs from some part of our inner child development, here is the link.
This year I have been doing some inner child work (see my other blog posts) and came to the point in the process where I am supposed to create a Guardian to look over and protect my inner children as I do this work. I happened to be participating in a free mini-class by Ivy Newport ( https://ivynewport.com/spring-fever ) in which we use our own portrait to create a guardian angel. While I was working, it just hit me out of nowhere that I should be my own guardian angel- my grown self. So, I finished the painting and call her "The Guardian" and she will join my other inner child paintings to watch over and protect all of the inner children.