How to Validate feelings
Validating your child's feelings is important! Why? Because you are sending a message that you are listening, trying to understand them and that what your child says matters. Also, you are building a relationship with your child and teaching them to understand and accept their emotions. The bonus is that children tend to behave better when they feel like you are listening.
What Validation is:
- Being present
- Listening more than talking
- Trying to understand your child’s feelings
- Helping your child understand what emotions they are feeling. When you use validation, you are building emotional intelligence. *Research shows that kids with good emotional intelligence do better in relationships. Who doesn’t want this for their child!?
*The Journal of Social Psychology , Volume 141, 2001 - Issue 4
What validation is not:
- Giving advice
- Trying to cheer up your child.
- Trying to make the child feel better, by “fixing” the problem.
- Correcting their thoughts or feelings.
- Acknowledging that you agree with your child’s behavior. Just because you validate their feelings doesn’t mean you agree with the way they are behaving.
- Your child stomps into the house, slams the door and drops her backpack loudly in the foyer.
- You are tempted to say, “Hey! You know the rules, NO slamming doors! And pick up that backpack and put it away!!”
- It is true that your child is not following the rules. However, what is going on?
- Seek to understand! Ask yourself: “What is she feeling? I wonder why she is behaving like this?
- Validate first: “Oh my gosh, it sounds like one of those horrible days and you feel frustrated! I wonder if something happened at school today?”
- If your child doesn't open up you can say, “You can tell me when you are ready.”
- Once your child feels calm, you can remind her to pick up her backpack.
How to validate:
- Be genuine
- Show up by: stopping what you are doing, having eye contact and paying attention.
- Acknowledge what your child is feeling, “You seem discouraged.”
- Listen to what they are saying and notice what their behavior is telling you about their feelings.
- Show you understand, “It makes sense you feel that way.”, “I imagine that made you feel sad!"
This is a great way to help create a loving relationship with your child. If this is a new skill for you, be sure to practice. You’ve got this!