The Criticized Child and the Protected Child

So far in this course, I have discussed the Criticized Child, the wounded inner child part of you that is harmed and triggered by the attacks of the Inner Critic.

You will recall that the Inner Critic is an IFS protector. It is judging you because it believes that this will keep an exile from being harmed or will protect you from that exile’s pain. I call the exile the Critic is protecting the Protected Child. In order to transform an Inner Critic part, it is best to first heal the exile (or exiles) that are being protected by the Inner Critic.

In exploring the dynamics of the Inner Critic, sometimes the Protected Child is the same exile as the Criticized Child and sometimes they are two different exiles.

For example, George’s Critic, the Slave Driver, was trying to protect him from failing at work and being judged and disparaged by his boss. So it judged George in order to try to get him to work hard. George’s Criticized Child felt inadequate as a result of these judgments. The Slave Driver was trying to protect an exile called the Little Boy, who was judged by George’s father. The Little Boy is actually the part that ended up feeling judged by the Slave Driver, so in this case, the Criticized Child and the Protected Child are the same—the Little Boy.

Annie had an Inner Critic that was triggered whenever she wanted to speak up in social situations. It told her that she was stupid and useless and people would laugh at her if she tried to say anything. If she did speak, it would attack her afterward, telling her that what she had said was wrong and dumb. As a result, her Criticized Child part felt stupid and inadequate. This Inner Critic attacked her in an effort to prevent her from speaking and therefore being visible. She had been abused as a child, and this Critic was afraid that if she made herself visible by speaking up, then she would get abused again. So Annie’s Protected Child was an exile that was abused, while her Criticized Child was an exile that felt stupid. These were clearly two different parts, so in this case, the Criticized and Protected Children were different.