At age 8, I was already building my very own empire.

A paper empire, to be exact.

I have a paper doll, Analysse, who had a paper mansion and custom tailored clothes (I drew them myself).

She was living The Dream, I’m telling you!

But the thing was, her house was empty. She needed to eat the most delicious food and have the most beautiful things. She could even have her very own elephant, I thought as I look at my thick coloring book given to me by my uncle. It’s filled with the exact things Analysse needed – hair brush, hand bags, elephants and ice cream. Tons of ice cream.

I grabbed a pair of scissors and was about to cut them when a hand held my wrist. It was my aunt.

When she asked me what I was doing, I told her I’m going to cut out a few of the pictures so I could play them with my paper doll.

That’s not how you use coloring books, was what she told me then. Coloring books are for coloring. It isn’t meant to be cut out.

I’m sharing this story now, not because I have a grudge on my aunt for not letting me play back then (I don’t hold grudges) but because, remembering all those years ago, I realized that I was held back. I wasn’t allowed to play however I wanted.
And just like 8-year-old me, my inner child has also been held back. And it stayed that way for years.

I’ve only allowed my inner child to play freely recently. Like 2016 recently. And even to this day, there are still times when I hold myself back.

Here’s the sad truth:

inner child quote

We somehow have this idea that adulthood meant shoving your inner child into the deepest, darkest recesses of your subconscious. That we would no longer need it when we’re adults. Add to that, we live in a world where child-like behaviors are frowned upon.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been told to “grow up” after doing something fun and carefree and completely un-adult-like.

That’s one aunt holding you back from your play. But really, it’s the aunt inside us that we listen to the most.

Why you need to let your inner child play | adulting, personal growth, creativity, grow up, happiness, personal development

Back in the 1970s, psychologist Eric Berne theorized that we all have three parts in us all the time: the parent part, the adult part and the child part.

The idea is, in order to live a happier life, you need to find the balance between these three parts. By age 15, however, (and I’m guesstimating here ok??) we let our adult part take the reins completely. Because that is what’s expected of us – to be adults.

Sure, we’re all adults now. We have far more responsibilities than we did as eight-year-olds. But that does not mean you need to shove your inner child onto the back corner. I have 4 reasons why you need to unleash your inner child and make friends with it.

WHY YOU NEED TO LET YOUR INNER CHILD PLAY

1) It Relieves Stress

As a kid, you usually don’t care about falling down or getting bitten by ants or having dirty hands. You just play and have fun and enjoy yourself! Who cares about dirt? (Adults, that’s who.)

Plenty of studies have shown that the carefree, playful attitude that’s often found in kids can increase happiness and reduce stress.

I’ve had tons of impromptu dance parties with my brother at home and I know this to be true. Play with your pet! Stop for a sec and smell the flowers. Get on your knees and get dirty.

Small yet super fun activities like these can help you forget, even just for a while, the stress that comes with adulting.

2) Strong Fearlessness Muscles

I have these two distinct memories from two different periods in my life:

The first one was when I was around six or seven, dancing my butt out in the middle of the makeshift dance floor at my mom’s office Christmas party.

The second one, I was a sixth grader in our school’s bathroom with my friend, showing to her that I could dance the Spaghetti dance in secret.

I’m a college student now in my senior year, and the only place you could see me dance is inside my house with my brother. (And it only takes me about two minutes and I start wheezing. Gosh I’m old.)

My fearlessness muscles that were super active when I was a six-year-old have become super, super stiff. And I’m sure I’m not the only one in this.

Letting your inner child out to play is a great exercise to your fearlessness muscles. Neither your parent part, and especially not your adult part, has any courageous streak in them. Only your inner child do.

clear jar with buttons

3) Creativity and Inspiration

If there was one word that you could associate with kids, I’d say it’s “why.” Children are curious little potatoes. You’ll probably remember those times when you were a kid and you either thought to yourself or asked an adult why.

Why is the sky blue? Why are Tom & Jerry always fighting? Why do my friend Jenny only have a mom and no dad? Why do ants march in a single line? Why can’t those children go to school? It’s asking these questions that will foster your creativity. It will inspire you to think, to empathise, and to be more aware of the worlds both inside and around you.

The connection between your inner child and creativity has also been scientifically-backed. The Mission made a list of how unleashing your inner child can make you creative.

There’s also this amazing Ted Talk by then twelve-year-old Adora Svitak about how “childish” thinking inspires bold ideas and unhindered creativity. It’s a lovely talk and you should definitely check it out here.

4) You Become a Better Adult

Did you know that narcissistic behaviors and temper tantrums seen in adults are the result of your inner child “acting out”?

Mind = blown.

When you don’t give it play time, your inner child will find its own way to play by acting out. And, as things often do when restrained for too long, they act out in an awfully ugly way.

So all those so-called adults with negative child-like behaviors? You know. Those who are like a child in a grown man’s body (one of which you may know has an orange-y skin and hay-like toupee)? Those adults have not befriended their inner child or are even aware of it.

Mind = blown. Again.

Look, I’m not saying being an adult sucks. (Although adulting is definitely hard, not gonna lie.) If it weren’t for our mature and adult self, the world would be in total chaos. Like far more chaotic than it already is. True adulthood means taking your responsibilities seriously.

But remember: it is also important to let your inner child out to play. It is your inner child’s job to be creative, curious and courageous. Things that I’m sure we all need to cultivate as we also start our journey into adulting.

I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

Have you let your inner child out to play? What are your thoughts on inner child and how it’s affecting your life? Share them below!

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Photos from Jess Watters (via unsplash). Check out the photographer’s website here.

6 thoughts on “Why you need to let your inner child out to play”

  1. I LOVED this post! I’m a huge child at heart, which usually means I ignore ALL responsibilities. (oops!) However, I love all of these scientificcy (that’s not really a word, but we’ll go with it!!) reasons on why releasing your inner child is GREAT!

  2. Brilliant post! It’s so important to even just sit and reflect on things like this. It’s so easy to get caught up in “adulting” and we all need to take a step back on a regular basis!

  3. Oh kate, what a reminder. I have to admit, since I’ve had my daughter I’ve been both more and less playful. In some ways, she pulls it right out of me. I get goofy, laugh, spend time on my hands and knees playing. I try to show her the little things about life.

    But on days like today (poor thing has her first stuffy cold right now, shes 8mo). She’s so much to handle, and it brings out the parent, the serious adult. The “have to take care” of it person inside.

    And as the last few days have been so difficult, I’m struggling to keep positive and playful for here.

    I needed to read this post in this moment. As I look over and see her crawling around, just to turn and smile up at me. A reminder that I wanted her so badly, and now that she’s here… It’s time to play!…

    Written with love,
    Lee Bowden

    PS I’m falling in love with your writing style yo!

  4. This is such a great article. And so true! My husband and I will make time to be silly and play games because we have found it so important for relieving stress and generally lifting our mood. I encourage everyone to do the same!

  5. I love this post, Kate! It’s so true that our inner child is full of creativity and inspo. Thanks for sharing this insight!

  6. You’re so right that it can be hard to ignore the inner voice telling you to “act like a grown up”. So many of us miss out on fun because we worry too much. I know that I often guilty of this. As I was reading your post, I was struck by your mention of dancing at home with your brother. It made me think about the difference between taking chances in public and in private. If we (and by “we” I mean “me”) aren’t ready to take the risk of being “childish” in public, why not start by letting our guard down with our friends and families? I’ve never really thought about it in quite that way.

    The post also reminded of one of C.S. Lewis’s most oft-quoted statements, “When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up”. What a great way of thinking about maturity.

    Also, that Adora Svitak TED Talk is amazing. A friend sent me the link about a year ago, and I’ve watched it at least three times.

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