The same can be said for ourselves. I know I'm grumpy when I have too many pastries.
While I was rearranging the 4 year old's star chart recently, the thought occurred to me: if I were parenting my own inner 4 year old, what would I put on my star chart?
This of course led to tangent thoughts: What reward would I want to earn with my stars? What if it weren't just about a star chart and I were constantly parenting my inner child?
When our kids ask us for, say, an extra cookie, or another new toy even though he just got a new toy (because Daddy really wanted the new toy, too), when is the answer yes, and when is the answer no? How do you explain to your kid why this time it's okay, but next time it may not be? And, what occurred to me this morning, when your kid yells at you and demands that extra cookie or new toy, do you give into his demands or do you dig your heels in and demand right back that he ask nicely for things or he Does Not Get Them?
I'm a dig-my-heels-in, I'm-just-as-stubborn-as-you-are mom, personally.
So why, then, when my inner child demands I WANT THAT PASTRY RIGHT NOW BECAUSE, UM, BECAUSE IT'S THERE AND I WANT IT, do I say, "Oh, okay Inner Child! Here's your pastry!"? How could I handle that, instead?
If I were talking to my kid (and having a Good Mommy day, and this wasn't the 50millionth time I had to answer this question), I would explain that eating sweets without eating something healthy is bad for your body, and I know it tastes good, but later with lunch we can have some strawberries instead. So, what would it be like if I were to catch my inner child's demands, realize them for what they are, and explain things in the same way? "Okay, Self, I know you'll like that cherry tart, but you're gluten intolerant, remember? And remember that you're trying not to eat processed sugar? Is that pastry worth getting a headache and being grumpy? You have gluten free cookies made with organic sugar at home! Let's wait until we get home, okay?"
Honestly? My inner child would throw a temper tantrum and say BUT I WANT IT NOW, THOSE COOKIES AREN'T THE SAAAMMMMEE AS A CHERRY TART.
And then I would tell my inner child that it's being rude and now it absolutely can't have it because of how it's acting.
So just as parenting your own actual child requires a lot of trial and error, bargaining, and explanation of consequences, what would it be like if you were to put that kind of effort into "parenting" yourself?