Here’s the one thing every parent of every child needs to know. Are you ready for it? Your kid wants to be validated. That’s it.
Validating the feelings of your children helps them to feel understood. To help your child feel understood, it means you keeping your ego and desire to lecture in check. Validating your child’s feelings also means that you don’t judge him or her. Instead, you simply acknowledge his or her feelings. This takes focus and discipline as parents. As I share with my clients, the best discipline you can give your child is having the self-discipline to be patient, empathetic, and loving—especially when he or she is not acting lovable. Contrary to what many frustrated parents may think, particularly during those stressful times of conflicts, validating feelings is not condoning bad choices or giving in to defiant behavior.
“Validating” means giving your child or teen that all important, and seemingly elusive, message that “Your feelings make sense. I not only am giving you permission to feel what you feel but I am also welcoming and accepting your feelings in a non-judgmental way.” Validating your child coveys deep empathy. This will help build your child’s self-esteem and reduce his or her defiant behavior, which is often the languange choice of children who do not feel understood.
Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein lists the following three most effective ways to validate your kids.
-Communicate your intent to listen without judging or blaming or shaming and calling yourself out if you stray from this empathetic stance.
-Be sensitive to, and acknowledge how difficult and even embarrassing it is to be “different” when he/she wants to be like everyone else.
–Acknowledge the problems in his/her life and that they matter. Many children and teens I counsel repeatedly share that their parents minimize or dismiss their struggles.
To do these things you must be intentional. You must want to grow closer to your kids. You must have a desire to build them up. No matter what age. Start now, be consistent and observe the change.