Child Modes in Schema Therapy: 3 Basic Child Modes

Schema therapy is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on the present and past to help people understand their thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and life. Within schema theory, there are some basic child modes. These modes play out through various scenarios in our lives as adults. 

Schema therapy is an effective way for psychologists to better understand what’s going on with their clients or patients that might not be able to verbalize it themselves. It also helps them see how they are impacted by childhood experiences while growing up within society today. The goal of this blog post will be explaining these modes in detail so you can learn more about Schema Therapy!

Can child modes be seen in adult people?

There are definitely child modes in adult people, but they usually aren’t as visible as they are in kids. That’s because most adults have learned to suppress those modes and to operate more from their adult mode.

But there are definitely times when the child mode comes out – for example, when we’re feeling really happy and playful, or when we’re angry and trying to fight back. In those moments, we can see the child mode very clearly. And sometimes it can be really helpful to tap into that child mode, especially if we need to be really creative or energetic.

In this content, where you will find very important clues on our understanding of ourselves, we will elaborate on child modes, which is an important part of modal therapy.

The concept of the child inside us is extremely important in schema therapy and mode therapy methods. In order for us to understand the child modes, it is very important to understand the concept of mode. For a more detailed reading, you can visit our page where we discussed mood therapy in detail.

child modes
Child Modes @deep_roots_at_home

In order to understand the concept of child mode, it may be helpful to repeat the meanings of the word child.

  • Little boy or girl
  • A boy or girl in the developmental period between infancy and adulthood
  • The one who does not suit the adulthood, who acts more like the little ones can do
  • Someone who does not have enough experience and skills in a certain job

When we look at the last two definitions, we can see that the concept of a child is not only related to age, but also to behavioral criteria.

child modes in schema therapy: 3 basic child modes 1
Child Modes in Schema Therapy @parental.crianza

For example (I cried like a child.)

What makes a child a child?

It will be useful for us to understand the child modes if we describe the emotions and behaviors that help us to define a child as a child.

  • Impulsivity: Children tend to act on their impulses. At that moment, they take steps to do whatever comes to them. They can do or say whatever comes to their mind, right there at that time.
  • Not being able to delay gratification: Children may find it difficult to delay gratification, depending on their developmental stages and levels. They may want something that they want to happen immediately.
  • Neediness: The child is in absolute need of the existence of another person (the other) in order to survive, depending on his age. While demanding his needs, he does not restrict himself and takes what he needs.
  • Emotional: Children tend to evaluate life events and situations through their emotions. For the child, anything is good if it feels good at the time, and bad if it feels bad. Children can experience every emotion without hesitation.
  • Intolerance to pain: Children want to reach pleasure immediately, as well as to avoid pain immediately. A child may want to get rid of something or situation that is hurting or bothering them immediately.
  • Self-centeredness: The child can put himself in the center of life. According to a child, everything can be for him or because of him.
  • Curiosity: The child can be very inquisitive, as long as their curiosity is not blocked or they are not having trouble because of their curiosity. He may want to know and understand everything.
  • Excitement: The child is enthusiastic and excited about what life has to offer.
  • Assertiveness: Unless prevented, the child wants to jump into life and be in flux. Depending on his age, he may not be afraid of anything other than what is visible; therefore, it may not worry like adults.
  • Creativity: Children have the ability to create something new from an existing one.
  • Expressing oneself with the body: The child may tend to express his feelings and experiences more with his body. They frown, sulk, cry, slip, etc.
  • Optimism: A child can see the better side of things. This optimism may be far from reality.
  • Difficulty in self-regulation: Children find it difficult to regulate their difficult emotions. Therefore, they want to be comforted and may cry as a sign of anticipation of consolation. When they are bored, they expect someone to go through their boredom.

Although the above definitions are not a definite statement, they are aimed at getting to know the concept of a child.

It is not the same for a child to exhibit the above items and for an adult to do so. A normal attitude in a child can be considered childish in an adult. For example, it cannot be expected that the crying response of a child who is left alone for a moment by his mother is the same as that of an adult left alone by his lover.

The Child Mode issue comes into play right here, when the grown-ups take on childlike attitudes.

What Are Child Modes?

We all tend to feel like a child and act like a child at times. However, as adults, we may feel the need to control these aspects of us when childish behavior is not appropriate. Some of us may find it difficult to manage these childish states.

The state of perceiving like a child, thinking like a child, feeling like a child, acting like a child is called child mode.

In child mode, we think like kids, feel like kids, act like kids, and build childish relationships. For example, it cannot be expected that the reaction of a child who gets angry when he cannot reach the toy that is just beyond and the reaction of a man who cannot be successful in his work cannot be expected to be the same.

To be sad, angry, crying, etc. is not a problem. Even though we are an adult. We are talking about child mode when we show the responses that a child can give when we feel the emotions a child can feel (or feel like a child). Otherwise, we may be sad, angry, happy, or cry at any age.

Children’s modes are activated when emotions are felt that are too strong and intense to be explained by the current situation alone. The person himself or those who look at the person from outside may be aware that feelings such as unhappiness, anger, shame and loneliness are actually exaggerated. However, when people are in child mode, they have a hard time coping with those emotions.

Kids modes are often activated when we feel rejected, left alone or oppressed by others. In these situations, we feel that our most basic human needs such as security, closeness and freedom are blocked.

The more severe an individual’s psychological problems are, the more likely they are to enter an unhealthy child mode.

Inner Child Situations: 3 Basic Child Modes

Schema therapy (and mod therapy deriving from it) is not talking about the child within us, but the children within us. Although the child state is a general definition, more than one childish state or child mode is defined in the literature. In general, we can define children’s modes in three categories:

• Hurt (vulnerable) child mode: A mode in which we find ourselves in “painful” situations such as abandonment, loneliness, embarrassment, fear, humiliation, exclusion, unhappiness.

• Angry and impulsive (undisciplined) child mode: There may be situations where we are angry like a child, act without taking into account the result of what we are doing, and behaving aggressively when we are in an impulsive child mode.

• Happy kid mode: We can call “happy kid mode” when our basic needs are met, we feel happy, we are cheerful and curious, and we can enjoy life. Although the first two child modes are not considered healthy, the happy child mode is considered a healthy mode and attempts are made to improve it in therapy.

What is Hurt Kid Mode?

As the name suggests, when we are in the hurt child mode, we generally experience hurtful and painful emotions such as sadness, fear, anxiety, disappointment, emotional deprivation..

It is not just the way we feel painful emotions, but the way we experience those emotions that makes a mood hurt child mode. We, as adults, can also be sad, anxious, afraid, ashamed and in pain; However, when we are in the hurt child mode, we feel sad, afraid, anxious and painful like a child rather than an adult.

In what situations can hurt child mode be triggered?

I invite you to take a look at the following case studies of the mod to better understand the hurt kid mod.




Shame and / or Humiliation

Hurt Kid Mode Test

1. I feel inadequate, incomplete or flawed.

2. I feel lost.

3. I feel helpless.

4. I feel alone.

5. I feel humiliated.

6. I feel lonely even when there are people around me.

7. Most of the time I feel alone in the world.

8. I feel weak and helpless.

9. I feel pushed aside or left out.

10. I feel like nobody likes me.

Last Updated on December 11, 2022 by Lucas Berg


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