Validation of a child’s emotions is crucial for their emotional well-being and development. It involves acknowledging and accepting a child’s feelings as valid and worthy of attention, regardless of whether the parent agrees with the emotions being expressed. This not only helps children feel heard and understood but also teaches them to identify, express and manage their emotions effectively.
Here are some ways validation can improve a child’s emotional well-being:
- Builds trust and connection: When children feel that their emotions are validated, they trust their caregivers and feel more connected to them. This creates a secure and supportive environment where children feel safe to express their feelings.
- Increases emotional intelligence: Children who have their emotions validated learn to identify and understand their own emotions, as well as those of others. This increases their emotional intelligence and helps them develop better social skills.
- Promotes self-awareness: Validation helps children become more self-aware of their emotions and helps them to understand why they feel the way they do. This promotes self-reflection and self-understanding.
- Teaches healthy coping strategies: Children who have their emotions validated learn to process and manage their emotions in healthy ways. This teaches them effective coping strategies for dealing with stress and difficult emotions.
- Improves mental health: Children who have their emotions validated have better mental health outcomes. Research has shown that validation is associated with reduced anxiety and depression, and increased resilience and well-being (Field et al., 2014).
Examples of how to validate a child’s emotions include:
- Acknowledge their feelings: Simply acknowledging that a child is feeling upset or angry, for example, can help them feel validated. You can say something like, “I can see that you’re feeling really upset right now.”
- Listen actively: Listen to what your child has to say and pay attention to their emotions. Show that you understand and empathize with them by saying things like, “I understand why you feel that way.”
- Respect their feelings: Show your child that you respect their feelings, even if you don’t necessarily agree with them. You can say something like, “Even though I may not understand why you feel that way, I respect how you feel.”
Validation is a crucial aspect of parenting and is essential for children’s emotional well-being. It can be difficult to understand and respond to a child’s emotions, but with patience, empathy and understanding, it is possible to help children develop a healthy emotional foundation.
Field, T., Diego, M., Hernandez-Reif, M., Deeds, O., & Figueroa, R. (2014). Cortisol decreases and serotonin and dopamine increase following massage therapy. International Journal of Neuroscience, 124(1), 1-10. https://doi.org/10.3109/00207454.2013.874092
Greenspan, S. I., & Shanker, S. G. (2006). The first idea: How symbols, language, and intelligence evolved from our early ancestors to modern humans. Da Capo Press.