Consequences of Unmet Childhood Needs

Our core childhood needs are:

  • Attachment
  • Freedom to be yourself and to have your emotions and needs validated
  • Appropriate limits so you learn self-control
  • Independence, competence and self-identity
  • Play

When triggered by one of these needs not being met, you may feel and act as you did when you were a child.

This is the reason going home can be challenging for so many people. I often hear people say, “I have done so much work on myself, and I have improved in so many areas, but when I go home, I find I am totally triggered and end up acting like a child.”

This is because there is still a child-like part of us in our psyche. If our need for secure attachment was not met as a child, and we experience this again in our intimate relationship as an adult, the child part will react. When a child is trying to establish a secure attachment, the child might become incredibly anxious and follow the caregiver around. The child might throw tantrums to get their needs met. This might have worked as a child, but it is not likely to work as an adult.

The problem is that when we are in this state it is hard to reason with ourselves. It is our pain body doing the talking. It is likely that after these episodes, you feel a deep sense of shame, self-criticism, and judgment for not being ‘mature’. This is an excellent opportunity to practice self-love and self-compassion.

Please know that these responses are natural when your needs were not met as a child. Know also that you CAN learn to understand your needs and meet them. This reactiveness subsides as you get to know yourself in this new way and grow your inner core of stability. I have seen it happen over and over again.

If you feel called to start working with your inner child, a great place to start is with my “Inner Child Healing Meditation”

Wherever you are on your healing journey, it is perfect for you right now.

Much love, Jen

Reference: Farrell, J. M. & Shaw, I, A. (2018). Experiencing Schema Therapy from the Inside Out. The Guildford Press: London, UK.