When I write children’s stories, I know I need to go scuba diving into my subconscious mind to search for understanding from a child’s perspective to understand as an adult with an adult perspective. Doing so can help my inner child and set her free from her bondage, and she can reclaim her growth process. For example, in real-time, we adults must empathize with the child when children are experiencing big emotions. And allow them to express their feelings freely, such as, “I am feeling sad, happy, excited, silly, angry, scared, or frustrated without shame. Even if we disagree with them, their emotions are valid. We can help them understand why they are feeling big emotions and teach them how to self-regulate with the tools of child psychologists such as, Ned Johnson and William Stixrud’s Ph.D. book, The Self-Driven Child (2018) and others.
Most adults miss their childhood development which is essential for a fully developed brain. Childhood development is a vital process in growth—however, neglect, abuse, or dysfunction can stunt the growth of a child’s brain. The authors state that we can take back our internal locus of control as adults. That was good news for me because the knowledge that I could rewire my brain and begin living the life God intended for me was a light that shone brightly on my path to recovery.
My relationship with the Lord was the beginning because He was already doing the work within me, and reading His word was becoming apparent. Also, after reading the Self-Driven Child I began experiencing child like behaviors. I thought I was losing my mind, however, that was not the case. My inner child was being restored.
” So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust.” (Joel 2:25).
First, however, I had to recognize the little girl who sat alone in the dark; me. She needed me to acknowledge her. Then, like a mother, teach, nurture, empower, comfort, and allow her to be herself.
When I wrote my first book, Out of the Pit with Mizar and Millo (2007), I had no idea what the Lord was trying to teach me. Yet, the story flowed from within the depths, as though my inner child was rewriting my story. The Lord began healing my inner child by using these little characters to minister to her within, and He continues to do so as she reframes my story from the one I have been telling myself since childhood. As this may seem childish, we must remember the child within needs to catch up with us in adulthood. They cannot think like an adult until they are released from the captivity of shame. Shame names given to children such as stupid, ugly, crybaby, unlovable, unworthy, and the likes need to be changed. For example, through story retelling, I give my inner child a new name in every scene.
Mizar Biblical meaning: Little mountain, Psychological significance: External Locus of Control blames outside forces.
Mizar is a little pig stuck in the pit of hopelessness; she could not grow because she was not free to experience healthy childhood development.
Behaviors are learned behaviors through the actions of caretakers. She did not discover healthy behaviors from those who were supposed to love, affirm, and validate God’s love for her regardless of her failures or shortcomings, so she sat in the mire of self-pity and blamed others for her fate. These things are modeled on children by the actions of adults when they are treated harshly, judgmental, condemned, shamed, and feel unlovable.
“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
One day, when my grandchildren came to visit, my grandson ran ahead of my granddaughter, exclaiming that she got in trouble; she went in an afterword, she was shaking and began crying.
Finally, she said, “no, don’t tell nana, she will hate me!”
I sat her next to me and said, “Look at me, Look at me” She would not look at me. I lifted her little chin and softly said, “Nothing will ever stop me from loving you.” “Nothing will ever take my love from you.” I held her in my arms and began crying because, at that moment, God was talking to me through my granddaughter, and I broke into tears; I felt God had rejected me my entire life because of my many failures. Jesus says we cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven unless we become like little children (Matthew 18:3-4). My question to the Lord was, how can we become like a little child if we have not experienced childhood? I didn’t know what that meant because I did not experience a healthy childhood. As many children continue to suffer today by the choices of their caretakers, this curse continues because we refuse to acknowledge and heal ourselves. Therefore, our children suffer collateral damage from the iniquities of our ancestors.
The Bible says,
“Train up a Child in the way he should go, and his ways will never part from him.” (Proverbs 22:6).
Even today, many caregivers condition children using corporal punishment with the end of a belt, withholding love, disproval, or worse, tongue lashing. Adults train children by their actions in the home, society, schools, etc. Children are watchful and absorb what we teach them by our actions.
Also, when a child misbehaves, most caregivers shame the child into compliance instead of explaining the consequences of the choices. Products of good decisions produce good fruit, and the effects of bad choices produce destructive behaviors. When I did not meet the expectations of my caretakers, they withheld love and approval from me. Children need guidance with love, acceptance, affection, allowance, and support, not by the end of a belt. Therefore, my guides were fearful, compliant, and perfectionism to gain their love and acceptance.
My other character is a small bird named Millo: Bible meaning: Favored, Merciful, Peaceful, Psychological sense: Amygdala, Fight, Flight, Fold, Freeze: Internal locus of control.
In my imagination, Millo feared abandonment, so he tries to be perfect, but in doing so, he is constantly harming himself; however, not intentionally, it is because his little brain is on high alert (Amygdala). Childhood experiences shape who we become as adults.
Recently a child I work with was upset and crying because she earned point losses for negative behaviors. She said her mother told her not to get any point losses. I knelt beside her and said no one was perfect; even Ms. Lisa makes daily mistakes. She was instantly relieved from the expectation of perfectionism. Through our program, our school uses the Boy’s Town Model to help the students learn how to manage and take responsibility for their behaviors and help them make better choices. However, the goal is positive reinforcement by noticing them making good choices, acknowledging their efforts, and rewarding them no matter how small the action; it should be recognized and rewarded accordingly. We also model humility when we make mistakes towards them, apologize, and ask for forgiveness.
They earn points for behaviors such as staying on task, showing kindness by helping other classmates, taking responsibility, problem-solving, and the like. When they choose to misbehave, they lose points; however, instead of withholding from them, we want to immediately begin the repair process by asking them what would be a better choice next time. If the child becomes destructive or tries to harm themselves, intervention is a must; but by the interventionalist, social worker, and other professionals. When they take responsibility and ask for forgiveness, we accept, forget, and heal quickly without ever bringing up the behavior again. One day a little boy in the classroom went to intervention, and when he returned to class to apologize for his behavior toward me, I asked him if he would do that again. He said, “yes, probably.” I laughed, hugged him, and thanked him for his honesty. We are human and will make mistakes!
Another example is if the child gets angry because I gave him a point loss for playing games on his computer instead of doing his work, he begins throwing his pencils and calling me names. We call out the emotion by saying, “I understand you are frustrated, and I will give you a minute to calm your emotions. Then, we walk away, giving them time to breathe and collect their thoughts. We want to help them call out their feelings, not suppress them. Perfectionism, in my opinion, is a cruel taskmaster.
Ministering to Your Inner-Child
You may have read several of my children’s stories here on Day’s Journey and thought maybe I was creating a child’s blog; however, know that Day’s Journey is not necessarily a children’s blog; the children I am telling stories to are my inner child and your inner child. So, the next time you read a children’s story here on Day’s Journey, or another storybook, put your hand on your chest and read the story aloud. Then, reframe and imagine your adult self reading it to your inner child. I will close with a cute story I made up for my grandchildren.
The Giant Octopus
One day while driving home from my niece’s birthday party, my grandkids realized we had forgotten my granddaughter’s beach towel. Their mother explicitly reminded us not to forget the new beach towel; of course, we forgot it. The kids were upset their mommy would be mad at them and looking through the rearview mirror, I was trying to reassure them it was OK. After all, I bought the new towels and would buy them another. I wanted to cheer them up, so I came up with a story. My story went like this,
“OK, we will tell your mom that we were all swimming and having a perfect time until a giant Octopus came out of the water. It lifted Jayden in the sky with her towel tightly wrapped around her, and we couldn’t free her from its grip.
Nana jumped in to save Jayden, but the Octopus picked her up and put her in the jacuzzi with all the other grandmas. Finally, Jeffry walked up to the Giant Octopus and asked him if he would choose between the towel and Jayden; he couldn’t have both. The Octopus said it liked the beach towel, which was a perfect fit because it had armholes, and the Little Mermaid was his favorite character. So Jeffry agreed to let him have the towel if he gave us back Jayden. So the Giant Octopus gently put Jayden down, waved good-by with all of his eight arms, and happily took the towel with him as he swam away.
Jayden and Jeffry looked at me like I was nuts!
Jayden finally said, “Nana, I have a better idea. That’s a lie; let’s tell her the truth”!
Jeffry laughed, said he liked my story, and agreed. But, he said,
” Yes, Nana, that’s a lie. Tell mommy the truth, except about the cake and candy”!
“That’s my story, and I am sticking with it.” Said Nana Lisa.
Holy Bible, NIV
The Self-Driven Child by Ned Johnson & William Stixrud PhD, 2018