Disclaimer: Before we start I want everyone who reads this to know that I’m not a therapist, professional, or any kind of licensed person. I’ve had D.I.D most my entire life, I’ve been co-parenting a child for 10 years, and I’ve been in specialized intensive therapy for three years now… take my advice with a grain of salt.
Now on to the post.
Part One; Help! I’ve found a kid part and don’t know what to do!
We were there at one point, having kid parts just come out of the void at a rate that seemed more than we could handle. Maybe that isn’t the case for you all and you’ve just found one with therapy. Great! You know why that happens? Because they feel safe enough to come out.
We had (and still have) a great therapist. Our system was finally connecting with with one another safely and healthily. We had a stable living condition.
Note: this can be the case for parts who aren’t kids too. Having them come out of the void when they feel safe enough. Though it can seem random to others in the system.
But what are you supposed to do with a bunch (or one) probably traumatized kiddo?
First things first, find a care taker in your system. Someone (or many people) who they feel safe around, who can help take care of the kiddo(s).
Clean the kiddos off if they need it, bathe them, give them food and a warm blanket. Clothes and maybe toys. I’ll talk about the importance of play later one, but play is very important.
Don’t pressure them to tell any trauma or even speak if they aren’t ready yet.
If they are, give them a listening ear. For our system with all of us being in relationships with one another already, we all kind of adopted kiddos as they came. They would chase us of course and we’d welcome them with open arms.
Be sure to make them feel like they made the right decision coming out of the void. Keep them safe. Give them a safe space they can go to relax if they need it away from the commotion of the system.
Part Two: How to treat kids and the importance of how you treat them.
With kindness and gentleness. Even if you aren’t the most nurturing person in the world, kids will connect with you if you make an effort.
You have to remember that they are mentally actual kids. Medically speaking, they are a part of your brain stuck in a time where you were a child. They are obviously a child because they (and in turn you) need something chemically that you didn’t receive has a child.
My therapist says that when you treat a child part with kindness, you’re not only treating yourself with kindness but also filling a void that wasn’t filled as a child by your parents/guardians/etc. It’s all chemicals and medically speaking.
So going in and buying that toy may seem silly a first, but if your kid part(s) really deeply connects with it, then it’s fulfilling a need you all have.
That’s how you heal!
That’s not to say you should buy every toy you see, though it is tempting. Sometimes kids have a chemical need for boundaries too. You’ll find the happy balance for yourself. It could be buying a cheaper toy, or even having them work on a points system.
Toys and buying things aren’t the only important things you need to do though. I can’t stress enough how important cuddling and loving eyes are.
Babies, children, and adults need certain amounts of cuddles and human touch in their day. Though it may differ for all people, for children and babies, it’s usually a pretty steady high number.
I’m going off on a bit of a tangent here but it all loops back into the importance of cuddles I promise!
When babies and children don’t get enough cuddles/love it causes their brain to develop incorrectly. Chances are if you’re an abuse victim with child parts it fits in that you didn’t get the correct amount/kind of love and attention.
(I don’t have links to these studies and if I ever get them I will post them!)
Studies show that we can rewire the brain and help it heal by taking care of your “inner child” which for someone with D.I.D is kid parts! It can heal the brain in such a way that it prevents future anxiety and health issues as an adult.
But, you say, how do I do that? How do I cuddle a baby or kid part? What’s loving eyes?
Just do what feels natural. Hold them in comforting ways, speak to them softly. Loving eyes is where you look at them (in Headworld) with literal loving eyes. You know how in fanfictions or romance novels they say “their eyes lit up with love”, make your eyes do that.
Send positive loving feelings towards them with your eyes or your cuddles. Play games or toys with them if they’re able to relax enough to play. Be gentle and kind.
Send out those good vibes and feelings towards them.
Part Three: Fronting
The question now comes up of what to do if they front front, if you should let them front, and how to keep them safe when fronting.
Though they felt safe enough to come out of the void, you may not be in a place where they can safely front. Don’t worry there are still things you can do that let them fill any needs they may have.
Co-Fronting is always an option, and always something you can work on!
There is also trying to find a space where it is safe for them to front and play a game of watch TV. Maybe scheduling a time for them to come out when you’re alone and try keeping a watchful eye of them.
But what if they just come out?
Like any part they can just … front randomly! My kiddos know not to do that mostly because the few times they have our IRL stuff has been too yucky or boring or loud.
If your alone it’s better to try and plan to give them time. Better in the sense that you can have stuff for them to do ahead of time and you can (hopefully) watch them front to keep them from harming the body.
Like any part sometimes they just get triggered out. In that case it’s important to note the trigger(s) if you can and try to avoid them. Especially if the kid does something harmful.
Part Four: Outlets
Having an outlet for your kid parts can be very important. Especially if they don’t talk. Not everyone can use Twitter and it’s best if kiddos don’t anyway.
Outlets for kids are simple, creative, sensory, and play (fidgeting counts as play in this post).
Crayons are the best thing I’ve found for creative because they aren’t as messy as markers and don’t normally need sharpening like colored pencils. I can’t stress the importance of printer paper as a cheap alternative to your expensive sketchbook either. Be sure to keep them together so kiddos know which one to use if they from with out help.
Sometimes kids may draw out their trauma as a release. It can be important to keep that (with the kiddos consent!) in order to show a trusted therapist at a later date to see if they can help work out the trauma.
Sometimes it can be freeing for the kid part (and you) to destroy it too!
That’s up to you and the kid part in the end.
As for sensory, that all depends on what your kid parts and your adults can enjoy/stand. Some people don’t like slime, others don’t like itchy. Find what works for you and pick some things up!
Ideas are: Squishes, slime, orbees, sand, soft blankets/stuffies.
Play and toys can be a good release of stress too, and like I talked about earlier it’s important to the brain chemically too! Even play in Headworld is important.
Fidgeting is a great way to ease anxiety which brings me to my next part.
Part Five: Anxiety and Kid Parts
Sometimes kid parts will be around and there’s nothing you can really do about it. It may be because they want to hang out with whoever is fronting, or it may be because they’re just an anxious little bean who needs attention.
Either way, if they’re hanging around they can get easily triggered and it’s important, especially if you’re out and about to have something ready to ease their anxiety.
If it’s a physical anxiety fidgeting is great. With the huge influx of stim toys into the general market it’s easy to find things like fidget cubes, chewies, tangles, and spinners at places like Target and Walmart. Carrying one around with you is a good idea even for adult parts.
For more anxious kid parts it can be important for them to have something they connect with as a comfort with them too. That could be a stuffie, a blanket, a good luck charm. Whatever it is try and take it with you, especially if the kid part is asking for it.
That’s not to say you need to carry every stuffie you own with you, they need a boundary to pick one or have a special small one to take with you. Tell them that they will be safe even if their special thing stays home that day. Remember it’s okay to take them with you though.
In the end no one will think twice about an adult with a stuffed bear sticking out of their bag. If they do, who cares? You need to think about you and your system first.
Another big thing to talk about when talking anxiety and kid parts is having them be able to be tucked in when doing something that may be triggering.
Tucking in could be having them go to their (Headworld) room for a nap or to play a game. Or having you go to a space in headworld after telling them to not disturb you. Be sure they have some adult parts with them to keep them company.
It’s important that child parts don’t get retraumatized or have vicarious trauma because they saw/heard something they shouldn’t have.
Part Six (Final): Aging and Kid Parts
Aging should be entirely up to the part and shouldn’t be forced onto them. In some ways yes, aging is a part of healing, but sometimes they just want to be a kid and that’s important.
You can always heal them and have them stay a child. It might seem harder but in the end, if they feel more comfortable being a kiddo then they should be allowed to be a kiddo.
If anyone has any questions, comments, etc please feel free to ask them!
Originally written by Axel and Adam on our vent twitter. Transcribed and edited by Kenny.