Even when we are well aware that our strong emotions might be awakened memories from childhood, we might still find it very difficult to focus inwards to resolve those emotions. The urge to blame people around us and seek to change or control them can be overpowering. Why is it so difficult to recognize the truth even after spending much energy in vain, causing stress to ourselves and others by trying to change who they are? Even if we know that the real cause of our emotions is probably in our pasts?

As babies and toddlers, it’s our biological instinct to turn to other people to solve our problems. Hungry? Mommy will nurse you. Wet yourself? Somebody will change your diapers. Bored? Scream loudly enough and they will do their best to amuse you. Tired? They will do just about anything to avoid waking you up and enjoy some well deserved peace. Even children of toxic parents inevitably learn that sooner or later, no matter how much pain and struggle experienced in the meantime, at least their basic needs would be fulfilled by others. Thus the biological instinct is reinforced and grows into an emotional habit.

When we age regress into childish emotions, this instinct can be awakened alongside them. Age regression includes forgetting or temporarily losing touch with our adult resources. What would be more natural in such a state than to turn to the solutions experienced in childhood? Thus we may once again feel as if our emotional well-being or even survival depends of those around us. This essentially means that we confuse other people around us with our parents.

This is visible in many parts of adults’ lives. People try to solve their emotional problems through all kinds of external means. For some people, money can be a weird substitute for parents, as it provides safety, comfort and toys (often other people’s attention, too). Others might turn to religion (heavenly father), magic or esoteric bio-energy approaches. Food can be a temporary emotional comfort, reminding us of the pleasure of being fed on our mothers’ breasts.

The more our parents tried to please us when we were little, the more we as adults will expect it from others. This is even more pronounced if the parents used to solve minor problems and challenges instead of us (see: Children need challenges). Some people can, like children, expect that they only need to cry, shout or get angry enough, and someone else will solve the problem. They can feel that it is also the responsibility of other people to solve their problems and please them.

Intimate relationships are where this instinct to seek external solutions is most obvious. They are often created as substitutes for parent-child relationships from the start, and when problems arise and we regress into childish states, it can be extremely difficult to take responsibility for our feelings. The old instincts from childhood awaken again and we can start expecting our partners to provide solutions – which usually means expecting them to change.

It never rains but pours – and usually in an intimate relationship, both people experience childish states from time to time. This means that both start demanding the other to change. The problem is, even if our partner tries to change, the childish parts of us will always want more – just like, as children, we always needed more from our parents.

Depending of how much time people spend in such states, their relationships will deteriorate and they will start accumulating resentment. If good communication skills are lacking, too, a crisis is almost inevitable. If an age-regressed state is intense, it can take exceptional self-awareness and responsibility to avoid blaming your partner and pull yourself back into an adult frame of mind.

I hope this can help you understand an aspect of relationship behavior which very few people are aware of. Simple understanding won’t bring automatic change – but it might help you deal with your childish issues in the moments when this is most important.

As far as raising children is concerned, it is good to note that it is not a good idea to go to any extreme – just as it is not good to overindulge and protect children, it is also not good to ignore their needs and leave them to fend for themselves most of the time. As always, it’s important to follow your sense of balance.

Related articles:

Children Need Challenges

What Happens When a Love Partner Is a Parental Substitute?

Emotional Logic

All articles 

Online coaching 

Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.

Kosjenka Muk

I’m an Integrative Systemic Coaching trainer and special education teacher. I taught workshops and gave lectures in 10 countries, and helped hundreds of people in 20+ countries on 5 continents (on- and offline) find solutions for their emotional patterns. I wrote the book “Emotional Maturity In Everyday Life” and a related series of workbooks.

Some people ask me if I do bodywork such as massage too – sadly, the only type of massage I can do is rubbing salt into wounds.  😉

Just kidding. I’m actually very gentle. Most of the time.

new posts

follow us on facebook

Become an Integrative Systemic Coach Trainer

Integrative Systemic Coaching training enables you to help others with resolving their relationship and emotional patterns, releasing limiting beliefs and integrating lost qualities and lost identity.

Online Coaching for Individuals and Couples

Integrative Systemic Coaching can help you in different areas of life in which you feel stuck, experience unpleasant emotions and self-sabotage.



+385 98 9205 935
© 2024
Integrative Systemic Coaching
Website developed Danijel Balaban - Web Development Agency & Design Company

Appy to become a trainer

Become an Integrative Systemic Coach Trainer

Integrative Systemic Coaching training enables you to help others with resolving their relationship and emotional patterns, releasing limiting beliefs and integrating lost qualities and lost identity.