Growing compassion in trying times using Kid Theory

There’s a kid in all of us. What if we treated each other like such?


Caroline Luu

3 years ago | 3 min read

If you and me were sitting across from each other, there wouldn’t be two people here.

There would be four.

Adult You, Adult Me, Kid You and Kid Me.

There is a kid inside all of us that wants to be fed, heard, and loved. This Kid is patient while the Adult You functions in the world — when you work, make money, do chores…practically all the responsible things you do.

This Kid lives below the surface of consciousness but can be felt as you go about your daily life. Those emotions that flare before your self-control recalibrates you…that’s the Kid.

If you are familiar with the psychologist Freud, you may have hear about his concepts of consciousness and unconsciousness.

Stay with me here.

Imagine an iceberg floating in a body of water. There is ice above, on, and below the water.

These layers of ice represent different layers of the human psyche: the ego, superego, and the id.

The ego is the Adult You who is rational, thinks about impulses before they become actions, and levels the pros and cons for calculated decision-making. That is consciousness.

The superego is the intermediary stage of consciousness that isn’t reality or hasn’t become reality yet. This are where your dreams, ideals, and morals live.

They power how you consciously think about the world — otherwise stated as, the foundation of how you think. This is considered the preconscious level.

Lastly is the id, the most scandalous and human part of you. Your emotions, impulses, irrationality, and aims for immediate gratification live here.

You are not always consciously thinking about these things, but they can power your actions and dreams whether you like it or not.

The Kid I mentioned before lives subconsciously in the id.

So what? Why does it matter that there is a Kid in me? Why are you writing this article?

I am proposing that understanding the Kid in you and understanding the Kid in others is a powerful vehicle for generating compassion, especially in 2020’s trying times.

I don’t need to tell you that sometimes, the Kid acts out. You have seen it in your split-screen decision-making, your moments when you say something that isn’t politically correct, when you text someone something that you regret, or explode in anger because you are simply tired.

The Kid in me gets angry when she’s hungry, snaps when she’s feeling disrespected, and cries regularly when she witnesses pain and beauty.

These emotional turmoils, existential crises, social blunders, and poor decision-making are tantrums that the Kid throws when it hasn’t played in a while.

“Play” can mean anything that rejuvenates your soul. Be it self-care, hanging with friends, getting lost in a movie, or creating a piece of art.

Those are forms of play that are necessary for the Kid to stay happy — thereby, necessary for you, the Adult reading this, to stay happy as well.

I have painted a picture of the Kid in you as an impulsive, vulnerable soul. Why do you think the Kid behaves like that? Why does it act out? What influences how the Kid thinks, feels, and views the world? The answers to these questions directly impact how you operate in the real world.

For example, Kid Caroline gets upset when she feels disrespected which immediately impacts how she trusts others. This comes from lessons gathered from her childhood.

She can’t help herself. Adult Caroline catches these impulsive thoughts and extinguishes them when she disagrees. However, that doesn’t mean that the I, Adult Caroline, do not acknowledge my kid’s feelings.

Working through these emotions with your Kid is how you self-regulate and improve how you operate in the real world. Working through turmoils improve how you make decisions, behave, and ultimately, influence others.

Furthermore, understanding that there is a kid in everyone allows you to see others as the humans that they are. Sometimes, when you feel that someone wronged you, that’s the kid in them speaking. That may be the kid in them asking for love but acting in fear.

If we approached everyone with this in mind, how would we act?

After I adopted Kid Theory, I found myself being more nurturing and level-headed when navigating heated arguments, uncomfortable situations, and advising loved ones.

I see this paradigm as a tool for compassion, for understanding the humanity of oneself and others, and as a way for individuals to positively impact those around them (also limiting the damage that your ravenous kid exults).


Created by

Caroline Luu

Product designer exploring life and design questions to better understand humanity. Writing from Oakland, CA.







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