Using Validation to Connect with your Children
Validation within a therapeutic context, refers to the act of acknowledging and accepting a child or participant’s feelings, thoughts, and experiences without judgment. It is a fundamental aspect of nurturing healthy self-esteem, emotional intelligence, and as a parent, is a beneficial tool in building strong connections with your children.
As parents, it’s natural to want to correct, discipline, or explain to your child when needed. And validation doesn’t discount these strategies. When they’re misbehaving, these approaches feel natural and just. The key to validation, however, is connecting with your child on a deeper level when these moments arise. By using these validation techniques, you’ll be able to get to the root of your child’s behavior. This, in the long run, may actually be more effective in aligning your child’s actions with their feelings and will solve the very problem correction or punishment aims to address.
Here are some helpful phrases to get you started with validation. Communicating with your child on this level may feel unnatural at first, but it’s like exercising a new muscle and it will get easier with time.
“I get why you would feel _____ because _____.”
“I can see how that might make you feel_____ because ____.”
“It makes sense that you’re feeling _____ because _____.”
“I can only imagine how difficult this must be because _____.“
“No wonder you’re _____ because _____.”
“I can understand why you might feel _____because _____.”
“This is so _____ because _____.”
These prompts are effective ways to begin conversations with your child. The best way to follow these statements is by listening. Pay attention to your child’s physical presentation, reflect their feelings and give them space to express their frustration. And while there is time to explain your side, now is not that time. When you’re creating space for your child to express their feelings, don’t minimize their emotions or prove them wrong. Creating a safe space through validation is the foundation on which your child will respect your authority.
In practicing validation, here are some phrases and tactics to avoid when communicating with your child:
“It’s not that big of a big deal.”
“You’ll get over it.”
It’s also important to avoid immediately trying to fix the problem before hearing and recognizing your child’s feelings.
You and your child are on this journey learning together. Give yourself a break when you make a mistake and as mentioned above, view this mindset like a muscle. The instinct of validation will come with time; what matters most is that your child knows you support them, even as you figure out what that looks like. If you need further parenting support, connect with a member of Decade2Connect today!