At The Family Peace Foundation, we invite parents and partners to accept all feelings as valid and normal and to appreciate that feelings and emotions are not loaded, personal, right, wrong, good or bad, but that they are simply just feelings. Once we learn to accept and validate feelings expressed by our child (or mate), we are ready for stage two in managing emotions, which is to help our children regulate their own emotions and find ways to help them problem-solve.Regulating emotions means feeling them and then finding ways to ride the emotional wave of discomfort until it subsides.You can validate someone even if you don’t agree with him or her. There are times that all I can do is say “I see that you’re upset and it’s ok”.I do this in my personal life; such as when my 6-year-old is having a melt down because his drink is in the wrong cup. Even that simple statement helps diffuse the situation with my children.Their response is “it’s not a big deal, don’t be upset.” How would you feel? This builds self-esteem, helps them to become more self-aware, and greatly impacts the connection between parent and child.Words, body language, or physical touch can all validate a child’s emotions and express empathy. We have to first separate validation from actions or reinforcement.Can you think of situations where you have offered validation or where you think you should have offered validation?I am going to encourage you to focus on validating your loved ones for the next week.
When a child is experiencing an emotion, dismissing or questioning that emotion leads to self-doubt. You are experiencing anger, jealousy, and sadness and have a conversation with your spouse about it. Validation shows a level of understanding that kids need.
Think about a time you got hit with a large and unexpected bill, you might have felt worried or mad.
Think about a time you lost someone you loved, and experienced grief.
A way to validate that child’s feelings would be to say “it is so frustrating when the right shirt isn’t clean, that must make you feel very mad.” This let’s the child know that you understand them, and that their feelings are real, but it doesn’t necessarily change the outcome.
By separating feelings and actions, we are saying ‘I hear you, and I understand you’, but the end result isn’t any different.