By Mike Finecey, MA, LPC, LISAC

Remember being three years old? This was to be a time when what happened yesterday was forgotten and tomorrow was of no importance. A time when we truly knew what it was to “live in the moment.”
Each of us is born nearly perfect and capable of unconditional love, simply seeking to be loved. We were unconditional and entered into a life where conditional life abounded around us. These were the training lessons learned by the unconditionally loving child coming into contact with a conditional environment.
The creation of the wounded child is developed from the unconditional self entering into conflict with the way we were conditionally trained. As we attempt to make sense of the conditions of our environment as young children, we will modify our behaviors to be loved as we learn and experience our negative emotions; sad, lonely, pain, hurt, rejection and fear.
As we modify our behaviors to be loved, we learn to withhold, deny, hide, and run away from our own feelings. If our learning of negative emotion goes unattended and unresolved, we learn to repress what we feel and the wounded child is born as our authentic self diminishes in value.

Birth of the Wounded Child

In healthy family systems a child learns how to emote what is felt in a healthy manner, while learning to have empathy and sympathy for others. As we experience negative emotions, we’re able to talk to our parents, siblings and others to seek understanding and guidance on “how to deal with” our feelings.
In unhealthy family systems a child learns how to repress negative emotional feelings and pain. And those who are guiding us are often the ones who are creating the pain.  They are unavailable to relieve the pain of the wounded child. Whether coming from a healthy or unhealthy family system, we all grow upu using uses the lessons we learned, healthy or unhealthy for guidance and decision. Wounded children often have historys of trauma, abuse and deprivation, both witnessed and experienced.
Experiences such as divorce, various forms of abuse, being a child of an alcoholic or addict (ACoA), abandonment, rejection, perfectionism, unworthiness, not being loved and many other forms of woundedness create the wounded child who learns to repress and control the pain, becomes an adult without the skills of how to self-care.

Development of  Wounded Children

A child between the ages of 5 and 10 seeks to be loved and will do whatever needs to be done to be loved. If that means being quiet, hidden or to endure pain, that’s what a child will do. When we lose our authentic self, we’ve missed the lessons of how to feel our negative emotions and solve problems in a healthy manner. When we’re younger than 12 and need to repress and mask pain, our brain isn’t fully developed to problem solve so we hold ourselves accountable for what is happening. If parents are fighting, it must be our fault. The wounded child, as an adult, has two primary fears. Fear of rejection/abandonment (fear of being alone) and/or the fear of intimacy (fear of being known).

Healing the Wounded Child

As adults when we feel pain, we respond in an emotional manner and age of a young child.The trainings we need to learn as a child to become a healthy adults are safety, a sense of control over our own environment, nurturing, support, encouragement, respect as a separate person, consequences, responsibility, skills, worth and value.

To accomplish this we must be willing to re-parent ourselves in healthy ways. Re-parenting; to let go of control of repression and masking of feelings and allowing the truth of what we feel to surface. We learn to nurture and create new solutions to old behaviors. To re-parent is the ability to put the child behind the adult while the adult protects the wounded-child until trust is regained by new experiences as an adult. The goal is not to eliminate the wounded child, but to transition from wounded to emoting, where we show our feelings while having sympathy and empathy for ourselves and others. It takes time and can require support and guidance of others. Awareness of one’s woundedness is the beginning of one’s healing and recovery.

Mike Finecey, MA, LPC, LISAC is the co-founder and Clinical Director of North Pointe Counseling Center specializing in the treatment of Trauma, Abuse and Deprivation. He is the co-author and facilitator of Breaking Free…a Journey, a 20-hour intensive workshop that focuses on healing from traumatic life events. Breaking Free is offered monthly to the public and is privately contracted with organizations such as treatment centers and community-based foundations. For more information: 800-273-3429 or