Tip of the Month: Validating Your Child’s Feelings

Validating your child’s feelings not only increases the likelihood that they will open up to you,
it also leads to a sense of emotional relief. When a child feels seen, heard an understood,
they are more receptive to your feedback and guidance.

           -Dr. Aliza Pressman

Sometimes it’s hard to notice when you invalidate a feeling. Here are some examples. (This is true for all interactions, not just with kids).
*Invalidating feelings: “Why are you so worried? You are young so you don’t need to be nervous. You’ll be fine.”
*Validating feelings: “I understand that his is confusing. You’ve never experienced something like this. It makes sense to feel a bit nervous about everything going on, even when we reassure you that you are safe.”
*Invalidating: “You always want more but you don’t notice all we have done. We played dolls three times already today. Don’t you get bored of playing that too?”
*Validating: “I get it-it’s fun to play dolls and especially now when it can get so boring spending so much time alone. It must be hard since I’m home, but working in my office, and can’t spend as much time with you as we would both like.”
*Invalidating: “OK, have some perspective! Your school has been out but you are doing fine. People are dying out there – our little personal hopes and dreams do not matter right now.”
*Validating: “It must be so painful not being able to do something so important to you. I know how hard you worked and how excited you were. I would be disappointed too.”
*Validating statements and Curiosity Prompts:
It sounds as though you are feeling…
You would like me to understand that you’re feeling ____because ____and you wish…
How long have you been feeling this way?
Thank you for being open and sharing your feelings with me. I really appreciate it and now have a better understanding of…

These are only some suggestions and you don’t always need to speak in “script” to your children. These may not always be the right words either, just some examples to help practice getting fluent in validating feelings. Validating does not mean, you are agreeing with everything your child is saying. Instead, you are showing that you are listening carefully and hearing what they are thinking and feeling from their perspective. Validating also does not mean you are in problem-solving mode, you are only focusing on feelings in this conversation.

-Dr. Aliza Pressman (Raising Good Humans Podcast)

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