Validation means letting kids share their thoughts and feelings without judging or criticizing them. It means that you understand what your child feels is real to her. And it’ a powerful parenting too.
Can you remember a time when you were struggling and someone really listened to you? Maybe they said, “That’s so hard” instead of giving you advice. Or maybe they shared a time when they felt the same way? They validated your experience, making you feel less alone.
As parents, it’s easy to fall into advice or fix-it mode with our kids instead of really listening. We hate to see our kids struggle and want to jump in and fix things.
But, often the best way to help is simply to listen. To validate their experience and help them process their emotions. And there’s no better way to build connection and trust.
How does it work? When your child is struggling and ready to talk, ground yourself and listen. This sounds easy, but often when our kids are feeling tough emotions, it triggers our own emotions and soon we are having our own reaction instead of staying present with our child.
Things to say to help kids feel validation:
- I’ve felt that way too.
- That is so hard
- You are not alone.
Avoid saying “you shouldn’t feel that way” or “that’s silly.” These responses invalidate their emotions and experiences.
Setbacks and challenges are an inevitable part of life and offer precious opportunities to connect with another human being.
“At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” ― Maya Angelou
For more on this topic, here’s a recent post about guiding kids through friendship struggles.
PASS IT ON. Jessica Speer’s weekly BLOG focuses on helping kids and families thrive. Posts offer simple ideas to help kids and families connect & foster healthy relationships. If you know someone who might appreciate this content, please pass it on! Click here to follow blog via email or Facebook.