Validating our child's experience may be one of the quickest ways for us to stay calm and for them to process strong feelings. 


When we validate our child's experience, we let them know they are seen and loved. This helps them feel more connected to us, and the more connection, the more cooperation. This often leads to more joy in parenting. 

We all want to be validated ✔️. ⠀

It feels so amazing to be seen, understood, accepted and the love that comes with validation feels like that delightful unconditional love we yearn for. 

Sometimes we read something on parenting, and we think, “yes! Yes! Yes!” but then the next question is, “but how?” Or what does it actually sound like to validate someone? And sometimes a big one… hang on a second, am I then saying “yes, you can have cookies for breakfast?”

 

Let’s go through these totally reasonable and understandable questions (I just validated you, by saying those were good questions, because they are!!). 

 

First: How do we validate someone else? 

 

It can take stepping into empathy first for our child, really trying to understand what it is that they might be experiencing. Let me share an example from my own parenting. My youngest is fearful of insects (and something for another post, but she has gone from feeling terrified to more of a strong dislike using strategies), and the other day she saw a spider while coming down the stairs and called out, “SPIIIIIDDDDDEEERRR!!!! Mom come quick!” 

 

I came (but only after regulating myself, because I didn’t want to add to her dysregulation), and started validating as I walked toward her. 

 

“You saw a spider? It makes sense that you called me because you felt scared. Am I getting that right, were you scared or startled?”

 

She responded right away, “I was startled, but it’s just a little spider catching mosquitos for us.” 

 

Now, like I prefaced this story, we were working on other things too, but let’s play this out if I was using my logical brain instead of my empathetic brain. 

 

“SPIIIIIDDDDDEEERRR!!!! Mom come quick!”

 

“You are fine. It’s just a little spider. Imagine how she feels, since you are so big and she’s so small!”

 

“But mooommmmm, she’s going to eat me, and get me, and ahhhhhhhhh!”

 

(Likely starting to feel dysregulated myself since it’s getting loud)

“That’s enough! You are being silly!”

 

This story really could go on for the next 20 minutes, but I’ll spare you. The idea is that validation can take a small slice of energy, but help a child feel seen, heard and able to move on. 

 

 


That makes sense. I believe you. I understand that. 

What can validating sound like?

 

Second: What can it actually sound like to validate someone?⠀

“Mom, I can’t find the pink necklace, it’s the only one that will work!!!”⠀

“That makes sense.”⠀

“Nobody loves me, it’s always no, no, no.”⠀

“I understand that.”⠀

“The seatbelt is CHOKING me!!!”⠀

“I believe you.”⠀

 

“A bear was in my room, I can’t sleep!”

“If you thought that, it makes sense you felt scared!”

 

“My sister always gets the pink cup!”

“Tell me more about that.”

 

“I can’t go down the slide, it’s too big!!”

“I’m here.”

 


When our kids feel validated that there experience (which they are VERY sure is real for them), then they can learn to trust a few things: 

  1. They can believe their feelings are real, and then as they mature, access strategies to cope with those feelings. 
  2. They know that they don’t have to be alone with those feelings, you’ll help them access strategies until they can more independently. 

 

Third: Won’t I be saying “yes” or “that’s real” or “you should be scared” if I validate? It makes sense that we could think this, and, it’s not the case when we combine validation with loving boundaries. 

By validating my 3 year old about the spider, I did not say “that spider will get you with a poisonous bite, good thing you screamed.” 

 

I said, you are feeling something in your body, and it’s real and true to you, and I believe that. The loving boundary would have been (if she hadn’t done it herself), would be to talk to her yelling worry brain to scan and see if she was actually safe. 

 

It’s so helpful to hear from you about how you use validation, or maybe if this is the a reframe for you, once you try it, how it worked for you. Drop a comment below! 

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