How to Validate Your Child's Feelings

Why You Need to Validate Your Child’s Feelings

Parents, Here’s How to Validate Your Child’s Feelings

 

Why You Need to Validate Your Child's Feelings

As parents, you only want what is best for your child, and sometimes that means overriding their choices and making decisions for them. In many instances, that could involve setting rules to keep them from doing whatever they want whenever they feel like it. That could mean forbidding them from going out with friends before they can finish a school project, or limiting the amount of time they can spend on their gadgets or play video games. But while it’s normal to set limits for what your child can or cannot do, parents cannot do the same when it comes to how your child should feel. And that is why it’s extremely important for parents to understand and learn how to validate your child’s feelings.

Feelings are uncontrollable and automatic. We do not influence them, and they are not the consequence of our choosing. So if you want to encourage more emotional health and resiliency in your kid, you must embrace and acknowledge his or her feelings. 

 

What is Validation and Why Is It Important?

Before you learn how to validate your child’s feelings, it’s important to understand what validation is and why it is crucial in your child’s emotional growth. Validation is the act of acknowledging someone’s feelings and experiences and letting the person know that they are real. When you validate a person’s experience, situation, or emotions, you recognize and understand that what they are going through is real. Validation doesn’t mean you have to agree with your child. It does not involve judging, correcting, teaching, or arguing as to why they are wrong or shouldn’t feel the way they do.

Validation is crucial because it lets a person know that you hear them. This is particularly important for children. While parents and children don’t always see eye to eye, having their feelings validated lets your child know that you understand and support them even though you may not agree with them. This strengthens your connection with your child and is essential in building trust. When your child feels heard and understood, even in situations where you disagree, it helps them accept their emotions, teaches them to self-reflect, builds emotional regulation skills and a greater sense of self, and develops compassion not just for themselves but also for others.

 

8 Tips On How to Validate Your Child’s Feelings

Why You Need to Validate Your Child’s Feelings

Being seen and understood is the foundation of feeling safe and connected as people. As a parent, you understandably want to nurture and educate our children. However, the emphasis on teaching and educating your child can often lead to criticism, which might cause you to overlook what your child is feeling or experiencing at the moment. But the fact that they are evolving creatures makes their mistakes a natural part of their path. When we comprehend and affirm our child’s experiences, we provide a secure environment for them to understand themselves and be open to learning and growing, which is our actual purpose as parents. 

So if you’re wondering how to validate your child’s feelings, we listed down some of the simplest ways you can let your child know that they are heard and understood.

1. Use nonverbal validation.

Validation doesn’t always need words. Physical contact, such as caressing their back or holding their hand, and sitting closer to them are enough to let your child or teen know that you are listening and they’re not being ignored. Other nonverbal validation can also include keeping eye contact, smiling at laughing at the appropriate times, or nodding.

2. Give an accurate reflection.

Accurate reflection entails summarizing your observations about what your child is saying without passing judgment. When your teen is angry about the limitations you impose about his or her phone use, saying something like “I understand it upsets you when you can’t talk to your friends anytime you want” instead of simply telling them to stop throwing a tantrum will work better to diffuse the tension. It also eliminates misunderstanding by allowing them to rectify any information they believe you did not hear correctly. It also helps them to hear their thoughts and feelings aloud, which may lead to their thinking differently. This type of validation is also known as mirroring since you’re reflecting your child’s feelings back to them. 

3. Read between the lines.

Often, there is more to a situation than meets the eye. Your teenager may claim she is sobbing because she is worried about a test tomorrow, but there might be something more going on. Try to find out what isn’t being communicated. However, phrase it as a question. A parent may only see the tip of an iceberg, but there is generally much more beneath the surface. But instead of forcing your child to be upfront about what is really bothering them, you can use validation to create a safe environment that allows them to open up on their own.

 

Tips on How to Validate Your Child's Feelings

 

4. Be honest.

When learning how to validate your child’s feelings, it’s important to make sure that your words of validation come from a place of honesty and compassion. As a parent, you may have a thousand thoughts running through your head at any given time–whether it’s about work, household chores, and other family responsibilities–and sometimes, you’re guilty of just simply nodding or giving one word replies without really listening to what your child is saying. Your child can tell if you’re simply mumbling generic phrases or if you’re genuinely attempting to understand their emotions. It’s important to make an effort to honestly care and listen to what your child is going through. If you’re on your phone, set it down for a few minutes and maintain eye contact as your child talks to let them know that you are present.

5. Practice functional validation.

This simply means taking actions that your child can see to show sympathy or to fix the problem. If your teen is crying, hand her a tissue. If your child is hungry, offer to make them their favorite snack. If your child is bored because of being cooped up for months, plan a weekend activity together.

6. Empathize.

Having the ability to show empathy is one of the great characteristics one can have as a person. It helps us understand how someone feels, which allows us to give the best and most appropriate response. So if you want to learn how to validate your child’s feelings, showing empathy is a great place to start. You can do this by sharing your thoughts on how you would feel if you were in their shoes. Allow them to feel emotions that you may see as negative, such as being angry or upset, before you try to find ways to solve the problem.

7. Find out what causes them to behave a certain way.

When your child is upset, acknowledge the reason instead of rushing to assure them that everything is going to be fine. “I can understand why you’d be upset when your sister cuts you off. You always try to let her finish speaking first, so it hurts your feelings when she doesn’t do the same.”

8. Recognize bravery.

Encourage excellent decisions and recognize personal strength. Consider the last time you were affirmed in one of these ways. Did it make you happy? Did you feel understood? did it help you feel more at ease to share more? Children and teens, like the rest of us, seek approval. Affirmation may be the key to improved communication and a happy home.

 

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Craig Selinger

Owner at Themba Tutors
Craig Selinger, CEO of Themba Tutors (serving Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Bronx, Westchester, Long Island, New Jersey, and Connecticut), is a NY State licensed speech-language pathologist, executive functioning coach, and learning specialist with over 18 years of experience working professionally with over a thousand families. His expertise includes language-based learning issues, e.g. reading, writing, speaking, and listening, executive functioning, ADHD/ADD, and learning disabilities. Check out his interviews with top-notch professionals in the field on Spotify.
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