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Child, parent, adult... which one are you?

Updated on February 4, 2012

Psychology Ego states: Simple version

There are three ego states in each one of us, child, parent and an adult... just like their names they are present in certain age groups... although this is not always correct. Which one overrules in your case? First lets see what these states are.

There are three states in every human being as mentioned above. The states can combine and a person without a specific ego state present at least in the minimum amount can have negative consequences. Lets start with the child.

This ego state is mostly superior obviously when a person is in the state of a child. Children are creative, they have imagination to waste, you can notice this in the cases where a child has an imaginary friend, or when a child plays with a toy and makes noises of it flying, or doing anything the child wants it to do. The child is very creative, however it should have limits just like anything in life. Although playful and creative children can often close themselves in a world of imagination and never wish to leave it, this usually creates negative consequences for the future life, the person will be more prone to being introvert, meaning it will be less social then predicted. The child ego state is very welcomed by people who require creativity for their life. Writers, painters or any other profession that requires imagination. In limits of course.


Parent state can be split into two sub states, the so called caring parent, and the (over) strict parent. The caring parent usually goes to the point of trying to spoil the person they care for, and doing anything to make them happy. The second one is, as you can already tell, is the parent who is prone to being very strict to the child, for example if a child gets a B+ in school, the parent will say: "Why didn't you get an A ? " meaning the strict parent will hardly ever be pleased. This can also be seen with teachers who are never pleased with the work of the students, and there is always something missing in an answer. The caring parent is most commonly welcomed by doctors, because they have a caring, different approach to their patients for example a doctor with the caring parent ego state will talk to his patients like this: "Everything is going to be okay, I will take care of you"- no matter the state of the patient. They will never be direct or cold. Where as the strict parent is welcomed in parenting, but in limits of course.


Adult is the ego state that should always be present and combined with both the parent and the child state. A person with this ego state looks at things in a complete "real" way. If there is a problem they will not give into emotions, they will simply think of a solution the best way they can. This ego state is very helpful when certain assignments are at hand such as mathematical problems for example. However it is not welcome in the doctor case mentioned before. An "adult" doctor will treat his patients like this: "Your injuries are critical, you will most probably die." They might even give a one to ten chance of survival. They have literally the absence of emotions.


Did you ever have a situation where you were afraid? For example let's take a random character named John.
John is very afraid of the dark. One day, on his way to work, he enters the elevator and hits the button to his floor. As the doors close a malfunction appears. The elevator stops, and the power in it goes out. He can't see anything. Johns initial reaction is the following: He starts shaking and literally screams for help. - Lets stop the story right there. Can you guess what ego state this is?... If you taught of the first one, the child state then you are correct. As soon as the lights went out, his imagination started working overtime. Random scenarios and images of what might happen to him in the dark started appearing, the child became superior, and he showed panic and fear. Screaming will achieve nothing, no one can hear him, and clicking the buttons at random does not help.


Lets take a different scenario for example... a 10 year old boy decides to bake a cake before the parents come home, in order to surprise them. The boy tries doing a recipe he saw his mother do, however he did not participate in the making of it when she did it. Long story short, the child almost burns the cake and fills the entire house with smoke. The parents arrive and shortly after the situation is cleared. The parents don't shout at the boy and don't punish it. They say it's okay.... but the boy feels guilty. The state present in this case is the strict parent... the boy felt guilty for ruining the cake and smoking up the house, so the inner parent basically told him: "you should feel ashamed".


Last but not least lets do the adult... since we had both of the others there is no need to keep the last example a mystery...

This time lets take a young teenage girl Lucy. She is home alone for two hours with her little brother. She leaves him alone for 10 minutes in the living room to go to the bathroom. When she comes back she notices that the curtains are on fire and she sees her toddler brother sitting on the ground with a candle in his hands. She doesn't panic at all, and shows no signs of worry. She takes her brother and carries him into the kitchen, she fills a pot of water and runs to the fire and back to the kitchen until she shuts down the fire completely. Once it's off she tells her brother that he shouldn't be playing around with candles and that something bad might happen. She doesn't shout at all, and instead she grabs a few towels and goes about to the drying of the floor. The adult was way superior here, I bet most of you taught that she should've shouted at the child, and even punished it. However she looked at it in an adult way, the child knows nothing about fire and candles, it can't even walk. So it wouldn't understand what it is that it did wrong.


These ego states should NEVER be absent. If a person has one of this states absent, then serious mental disorders can appear.

If the adult is absent, the person will never look at things realistically, meaning if it meets a problem, it will hardly solve it.

If the parent is absent, the person will not show caring for others, be it strict or loving parent.

If the child is absent, the person will have no creativity and will for example never consider anything to be funny or amusing. This is the case when people have absolutely no sense of humor.


Which state are you?

Are you usually prone to crying or acting childish in order to get what you want? Or maybe you are clear about your goals and won't allow anything to stop you from achieving them... or perhaps you put other peoples emotions before yours?

Which one of these three states is a bit superior with you? For me personally I would say the child sometimes crosses the line a bit. I tend to act very strange at times and at a certain point everything I see I try to turn into a funny outcome. Be it talking to a professor, or watching a tv show.

Funny fact:These states aren't connected to the age, you can sometimes see people who are over 60 sliding over the frozen water or getting into snowball fights.

Final question

Which one of the following ego states mostly becomes superior in your case?

See results


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    • Honestly lying profile imageAUTHOR

      Honestly lying 

      6 years ago

      Thank you for the support. I put this as simply as i could, I mean i didn't want to create a confusion. Of course the situation is essential, and my question was more of a general one, for fun, so to speak... Maybe people can choose an answer based on which state they felt the most while reading this hub ^^

      Thank you for the comments, they truly do help!

    • Cara.R profile image


      6 years ago from New York

      Hi Honestly, Welcome to Hubpages.

      I found your Hub interesting and have always found Dr. Eric Berne's theory of Transactional Analysis interesting as well. I would have participated in your poll however I do believe that each role; parent, child, and adult depends more on who you are speaking with and the situation you are in at the moment. I do think Dr. Berne's theories have validity to a point. That is nothing against your Hub. It is more about my beliefs on Dr. Berne's theory.

    • rdlang05 profile image

      R D Langr 

      6 years ago from Minnesota


      A very interesting first hub! Welcome to hub pages. I have never heard of this theory before, so thanks for sharing.


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