The early years are crucial in forming a positive self image and understanding of how others can help to support one’s needs in life. Validation is the act of reassuring others that their experiences, emotions, and feelings are real, or in other words, VALID and are heard by another person. When you validate a child, it allows them to feel safe and understand that they can reach out in the future without feeling misunderstood or shameful about their feelings.
Why is this important?
- As your child grows into adolescent years, these validating parent behaviours will help contribute to more effective emotional regulation AND greater relationship satisfaction.
According to Groves (n.d), there are four major benefits to validation:
- Decreased emotional arousal, which helps reduce the likelihood of those big outbursts of emotions, and “shutting down.”
- Increased trust in relationships
- Improvement in connection. Validation allows everyone involved to have a better understanding of what it may be like in someone else’s shoes, rather than trying to prove oneself as being right or wrong.
- Improved self-awareness and self-understanding. When people are validated, they learn to process and label the emotions they are feeling and understand why they are feeling that way.
How to validate children:
- Be sure to listen. Show eye contact and attentiveness.
- Be appreciative of their vulnerability and courage to confide in you, their caregiver.
- Reiterate what you are taking away from the situation to avoid miscommunication.
- Don’t rush the listening and understanding process - validation is not about problem solving.
- Show that you’re there for them.
- Keep in mind that validating others isn’t always easy and requires a lot of effort on your part.
- Make sure you can be in a good head space before engaging in validating another.
“How to Practice Validation.” Crisis and Trauma Resource Institute, 10 Feb. 2021, ca.ctrinstitute.com/blog/how-to-practice-validation.
“Why It Is So Important For Parents to Validate Their Children.” PsychAlive, www.psychalive.org/why-important-parents-validate-children/#:~:text=Validation%20is%20a%20way%20of,emotions%20as%20real%20and%20meaningful.
Shenk, Chad E., and Alan E. Fruzzetti. “Parental Validating and Invalidating Responses and Adolescent Psychological Functioning.” The Family Journal, vol. 22, no. 1, 2013, pp. 43–48., doi:10.1177/1066480713490900.