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Emotional validation is recognizing someone else's feelings or needs without judgment. You don't have to agree with someone's perspective to validate their emotions. You just have to show the person that you understand how they could feel the way they do.
Validating your child's emotions can help your child feel understood and valued. It can also teach your child to accept their emotions and to work through them. Plus, emotional validation can help your child learn self-compassion. People with self-compassion are more likely to deal with setbacks in life in a healthy way.
It's important to show your child that you understand how they're feeling and that you're willing to listen. Here are some things you can do to validate your child's emotions.
Show your child that you're interested in what they're feeling and why. Here's how:
Something that seems small to you might be a very big thing to your child. For example, fitting in with the crowd might seem less important to you now as an adult. But for your child, being seen as "different" or not fitting in may feel like a big problem.
Kids can often tell when adults mean what they say, versus when they're just saying the "right words." You may not actually understand why a misplaced sweatshirt deserves a huge meltdown. But you probably do understand the frustration of losing something that's important to you. Focus on that.
Telling someone to "stop worrying" or to "relax" when they're upset usually doesn't work very well. Plus, telling your child not to feel a certain way is like saying, "What you're feeling is wrong or not acceptable." It doesn't help your child learn to recognize and deal with difficult emotions. Instead, it teaches them to avoid and suppress those feelings. Try this:
Help your child learn to identify and work through feelings and problems on their own. It's easy to want to protect your child from having difficult feelings. But these feelings are a part of life. When you don't try to spare your child from them, you are helping your child learn skills for handling them.
Validating your child's feelings doesn't mean you have to give in every time your child wants something. It also doesn't mean allowing your child to behave in inappropriate ways. For example, it's helpful to show understanding for your child's anger at a playground pal. It's not okay to let your child express their anger by pushing the friend or saying mean things.
Current as of: October 20, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Andrew Littlefield PhD - Psychology, Behavioral Health & Donald Sproule MDCM, CCFP - Family Medicine
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