Of course, me being me, thought of this as total BS the first time I heard of it. But thank God, I was open enough to consider it, as I have learned over time the great value contained within this concept.
There are three key parts:
The Inner Child
Often seen as the part of us that is pure and innocent, the inner child is a snapshot of us when we were around six years old - before we entered kindergarten and began focusing on left brain activity (logic). This energy remains with us forever and is the happy, playful part of ourselves.
The "dark side" of the inner child is known as the ego or the subconscious. The ego is seen as the negative form of the inner child, however it is a tool that allows us to get beyond the toughest parts of life.
The true role of the ego is to protect the physical body from harm and he/she will do whatever is needed in order to keep the body alive. The ego can become very powerful and controlling in order to preserve the body's safety. To accomplish this task, it has access to all of our memories and uses them to avoid repeating behaviors that have harmed us in the past. It uses fear as it's primary tool or message to signal to us to avoid something it determines as being dangerous.
When used in balance, this fear can be very helpful to keep us safe. However, it may also block our path. Sometimes pain is necessary for growth, however the ego will avoid it at all costs. It chooses the path of least resistance and can only see what is right in front of it.
Our ego knows there is a limit to the amount of emotional pain we want to feel. If we are triggered beyond that limit, the ego will go all out to stop it from happening because he/she believes that we will blame him/her - and blame (a form of rejection) is equal to death. Abandonment is the ultimate form of rejection and is also seen as being equal to death of the ego.
When the emotional pain becomes too great, the ego may use addictive coping behaviors to mask or suppress it. He/she determines this based off of the levels and types of pain that we have previously deemed as acceptable.
The inner child/ego uses the physical sensations of the body to communicate with us. It most often uses the sensation of pain as it has learned from experience that this is the most efficient way to get our attention.
When the ego feels threatened, by our trying to access stuffed feelings, it will use ploys to stop us - such as laughing, crying, or distraction. It can be quite amazing how easily we are distracted when exploring our deepest feelings.
When we follow the ego out of fear, we usually find ourselves experiencing the very thing we were trying to avoid. But, by experiencing the fear, we have the opportunity to integrate it and thus release our need to avoid it in the future. This is a more painful way of integrating fears, but it works and is often easier to find at first.
Our inner child/ego sees the conscious part of us, the self, as his/her parent and will do what he/she needs to do to be loved and accepted by us. It guards our self against pain to win our approval and love.
When we learn to work with our inner child/ego, we feel empathy, understanding, and love for the little child within, rather than being angry at the fears it may have.
This is the part we identify with in our daily lives, "you" in your present physical state and age. It is also known as spirit or consciousness.
The self is in charge and makes the decisions in your daily life. It determines whether to follow the inner child or the higher self. It's actions decide how much soul growth is attained during this life.
The soul is also known as the higher self or the super conscious and is connected to the body through the heart chakra. Some call the heart the house of the soul. It's also seen as the god/goddess part of us that contains our everlasting wisdom and experience from beyond.
When the higher self speaks to us, there is a sensation of "knowing" that we feel. It uses feelings as a language between our guides and God. Your soul exists in the higher realms where the divine exist and acts as a translator that we can directly access. The imagination is used to translate the messages into thoughts, words, pictures, and feelings.
These first come as feelings of intuition, hunches, and synchronicity.
The soul has been wounded in the past and works on healing growth. As it has access to higher dimensional wisdom, it remains balanced.
The Partnership: Inner Child, Self, and Higher Self Working Together
The soul creates blueprints to provide us opportunities for our necessary growth. Each lesson is set up as many times and with as many partners as needed for us to completely learn it, although each set up becomes increasingly harder. These lessons revolve around integrating a fear that we have. The soul remembers the objective of each lesson, but the self and inner child will not. We must learn to follow the soul's guidance. As we reestablish the relationship between the soul, self, and inner child, it will become easier to move through our lessons.
Balance is key. When we are overwhelmed with activities and obligations and leave no time for our soul and inner child, we become unbalanced. Signs of this include feeling scattered, thoughtless, and making silly errors. Note these signs and take time for inner reflection.
Just a basic intro for backup definitions and understanding =)