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One Big Idea: Self-Reparenting

What does self-reparenting mean?

Within our minds, we have child versions of our self from different contexts in our lives. There may be a 4-year-old in you that experienced harsh and unloving criticism, and today that 4-year-old comes out when someone challenges you or reacts angrily.

Self-reparenting is an internal process of non-judgmentally listening to and coming to understand what that 4-year-old experienced and needed at that age. And now, you can use your highest adult self to “reparent” that 4-year-old with whatever it is asking for, from unconditional love and acceptance to protection and encouragement.

Where did the idea of self-reparenting come from?

The term was first used in a 1974 academic journal article by the psychotherapist Muriel James. She argued we all have internalized our caregivers' voices and behaviors to some degree. If these inner voices and behaviors are overly critical and self-destructive then we can heal our inner children by developing a new inner parent based on values we prize today, such as acceptance and compassion.

There is an alternate use of the word “reparenting” in psychotherapy where the therapist takes on the role of the parent and “reparents” the patient through developing a therapeutic relationship or alliance.

To date, neither self-reparenting nor “reparenting” have been clinically studied, however, components of self-reparenting are used in Internal Family Systems therapy, which has been studied and is evidence-based.  

Why should parents care about self-parenting?

Our unresolved childhood emotional wounds can influence our parenting, whether it’s being over-protective, anxiously critical, or occasionally exhibiting emotional withdrawal or outbursts of anger. These behaviors may surprise us and leave us wondering why we acted this way.

The process of self-reparenting not only provides insight into our own parenting behaviors, but it also may heal these childhood emotional wounds. This healing allows us to act in alignment with our highest values as parents.

How can parents use “re-parenting” in their daily lives?

Common suggestions by therapists include:

  • Breathwork, mindful meditation, and other relaxation techniques will help put your body into a safe emotional space to authentically examine your inner children, what they experienced, and what they need now.
  • Build trust between your inner children and your core adult self by making and keeping small promises to yourself every day.
  • Create and state positive affirmations that your inner children need to hear. These should be specific to your situation.  
  • Talk about this process with a trusted individual. Do not discuss this with your parents because 1) they did their best with their own internal emotional wounds, and 2) they can’t go back and change what happened. We need to grieve and do the internal work of healing ourselves.
  • Do daily check-ins with your inner child(ren) who are most active. Ask: what do you need to hear? What do you need from me now?


If you liked this article and want to know more about mindful practices that can build thriving emotional and mental health, join our cofounder, Justin Wilford, PhD, and Director of Community, Alicia Samaniego Wuth, PsyD for
Wednesday Wind-Down.

Also, be sure to check out our Flourish Masterclass that dives deep in to mental and emotional health for parents.

One Big Idea: Self-Reparenting

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One Big Idea: Self-Reparenting

Self-reparenting is the act of your adult self giving your inner childhood self what it needed in childhood but never received.

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What does self-reparenting mean?

Within our minds, we have child versions of our self from different contexts in our lives. There may be a 4-year-old in you that experienced harsh and unloving criticism, and today that 4-year-old comes out when someone challenges you or reacts angrily.

Self-reparenting is an internal process of non-judgmentally listening to and coming to understand what that 4-year-old experienced and needed at that age. And now, you can use your highest adult self to “reparent” that 4-year-old with whatever it is asking for, from unconditional love and acceptance to protection and encouragement.

Where did the idea of self-reparenting come from?

The term was first used in a 1974 academic journal article by the psychotherapist Muriel James. She argued we all have internalized our caregivers' voices and behaviors to some degree. If these inner voices and behaviors are overly critical and self-destructive then we can heal our inner children by developing a new inner parent based on values we prize today, such as acceptance and compassion.

There is an alternate use of the word “reparenting” in psychotherapy where the therapist takes on the role of the parent and “reparents” the patient through developing a therapeutic relationship or alliance.

To date, neither self-reparenting nor “reparenting” have been clinically studied, however, components of self-reparenting are used in Internal Family Systems therapy, which has been studied and is evidence-based.  

Why should parents care about self-parenting?

Our unresolved childhood emotional wounds can influence our parenting, whether it’s being over-protective, anxiously critical, or occasionally exhibiting emotional withdrawal or outbursts of anger. These behaviors may surprise us and leave us wondering why we acted this way.

The process of self-reparenting not only provides insight into our own parenting behaviors, but it also may heal these childhood emotional wounds. This healing allows us to act in alignment with our highest values as parents.

How can parents use “re-parenting” in their daily lives?

Common suggestions by therapists include:

  • Breathwork, mindful meditation, and other relaxation techniques will help put your body into a safe emotional space to authentically examine your inner children, what they experienced, and what they need now.
  • Build trust between your inner children and your core adult self by making and keeping small promises to yourself every day.
  • Create and state positive affirmations that your inner children need to hear. These should be specific to your situation.  
  • Talk about this process with a trusted individual. Do not discuss this with your parents because 1) they did their best with their own internal emotional wounds, and 2) they can’t go back and change what happened. We need to grieve and do the internal work of healing ourselves.
  • Do daily check-ins with your inner child(ren) who are most active. Ask: what do you need to hear? What do you need from me now?


If you liked this article and want to know more about mindful practices that can build thriving emotional and mental health, join our cofounder, Justin Wilford, PhD, and Director of Community, Alicia Samaniego Wuth, PsyD for
Wednesday Wind-Down.

Also, be sure to check out our Flourish Masterclass that dives deep in to mental and emotional health for parents.

What does self-reparenting mean?

Within our minds, we have child versions of our self from different contexts in our lives. There may be a 4-year-old in you that experienced harsh and unloving criticism, and today that 4-year-old comes out when someone challenges you or reacts angrily.

Self-reparenting is an internal process of non-judgmentally listening to and coming to understand what that 4-year-old experienced and needed at that age. And now, you can use your highest adult self to “reparent” that 4-year-old with whatever it is asking for, from unconditional love and acceptance to protection and encouragement.

Where did the idea of self-reparenting come from?

The term was first used in a 1974 academic journal article by the psychotherapist Muriel James. She argued we all have internalized our caregivers' voices and behaviors to some degree. If these inner voices and behaviors are overly critical and self-destructive then we can heal our inner children by developing a new inner parent based on values we prize today, such as acceptance and compassion.

There is an alternate use of the word “reparenting” in psychotherapy where the therapist takes on the role of the parent and “reparents” the patient through developing a therapeutic relationship or alliance.

To date, neither self-reparenting nor “reparenting” have been clinically studied, however, components of self-reparenting are used in Internal Family Systems therapy, which has been studied and is evidence-based.  

Why should parents care about self-parenting?

Our unresolved childhood emotional wounds can influence our parenting, whether it’s being over-protective, anxiously critical, or occasionally exhibiting emotional withdrawal or outbursts of anger. These behaviors may surprise us and leave us wondering why we acted this way.

The process of self-reparenting not only provides insight into our own parenting behaviors, but it also may heal these childhood emotional wounds. This healing allows us to act in alignment with our highest values as parents.

How can parents use “re-parenting” in their daily lives?

Common suggestions by therapists include:

  • Breathwork, mindful meditation, and other relaxation techniques will help put your body into a safe emotional space to authentically examine your inner children, what they experienced, and what they need now.
  • Build trust between your inner children and your core adult self by making and keeping small promises to yourself every day.
  • Create and state positive affirmations that your inner children need to hear. These should be specific to your situation.  
  • Talk about this process with a trusted individual. Do not discuss this with your parents because 1) they did their best with their own internal emotional wounds, and 2) they can’t go back and change what happened. We need to grieve and do the internal work of healing ourselves.
  • Do daily check-ins with your inner child(ren) who are most active. Ask: what do you need to hear? What do you need from me now?


If you liked this article and want to know more about mindful practices that can build thriving emotional and mental health, join our cofounder, Justin Wilford, PhD, and Director of Community, Alicia Samaniego Wuth, PsyD for
Wednesday Wind-Down.

Also, be sure to check out our Flourish Masterclass that dives deep in to mental and emotional health for parents.

What does self-reparenting mean?

Within our minds, we have child versions of our self from different contexts in our lives. There may be a 4-year-old in you that experienced harsh and unloving criticism, and today that 4-year-old comes out when someone challenges you or reacts angrily.

Self-reparenting is an internal process of non-judgmentally listening to and coming to understand what that 4-year-old experienced and needed at that age. And now, you can use your highest adult self to “reparent” that 4-year-old with whatever it is asking for, from unconditional love and acceptance to protection and encouragement.

Where did the idea of self-reparenting come from?

The term was first used in a 1974 academic journal article by the psychotherapist Muriel James. She argued we all have internalized our caregivers' voices and behaviors to some degree. If these inner voices and behaviors are overly critical and self-destructive then we can heal our inner children by developing a new inner parent based on values we prize today, such as acceptance and compassion.

There is an alternate use of the word “reparenting” in psychotherapy where the therapist takes on the role of the parent and “reparents” the patient through developing a therapeutic relationship or alliance.

To date, neither self-reparenting nor “reparenting” have been clinically studied, however, components of self-reparenting are used in Internal Family Systems therapy, which has been studied and is evidence-based.  

Why should parents care about self-parenting?

Our unresolved childhood emotional wounds can influence our parenting, whether it’s being over-protective, anxiously critical, or occasionally exhibiting emotional withdrawal or outbursts of anger. These behaviors may surprise us and leave us wondering why we acted this way.

The process of self-reparenting not only provides insight into our own parenting behaviors, but it also may heal these childhood emotional wounds. This healing allows us to act in alignment with our highest values as parents.

How can parents use “re-parenting” in their daily lives?

Common suggestions by therapists include:

  • Breathwork, mindful meditation, and other relaxation techniques will help put your body into a safe emotional space to authentically examine your inner children, what they experienced, and what they need now.
  • Build trust between your inner children and your core adult self by making and keeping small promises to yourself every day.
  • Create and state positive affirmations that your inner children need to hear. These should be specific to your situation.  
  • Talk about this process with a trusted individual. Do not discuss this with your parents because 1) they did their best with their own internal emotional wounds, and 2) they can’t go back and change what happened. We need to grieve and do the internal work of healing ourselves.
  • Do daily check-ins with your inner child(ren) who are most active. Ask: what do you need to hear? What do you need from me now?


If you liked this article and want to know more about mindful practices that can build thriving emotional and mental health, join our cofounder, Justin Wilford, PhD, and Director of Community, Alicia Samaniego Wuth, PsyD for
Wednesday Wind-Down.

Also, be sure to check out our Flourish Masterclass that dives deep in to mental and emotional health for parents.

Enjoying this? Subscribe to The Family Thrive for more healthy recipes, video classes, and more.

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