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Author Topic: Validation and Young Children  (Read 452 times)
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we can all evolve into someone beautiful

« on: March 07, 2015, 12:13:27 PM »


*Excerpted from"I Don't Have to Make Everything All Better"

By Gary and Joy Lundberg

Let them feel what they are feeling.

As adults we tend to think we have all the answers for our children.  Obviously we know more than they do; therefore, it is our divine duty to impart our expertise in large doses to their eager little minds.  Sounds good, but it gets us about as far as climbing a snowcapped mountain on waxed skis.  We end up right back where we started--or worse.  Usually worse, because lecturing, preaching, and giving advice doesn't work. In fact they often backfire.  Validation does work.

No one can change the way another person feels so there is no point in trying.  It will only frustrate each of you.  If we listen by giving our full attention, listen to the feelings, listen to the needs being expressed and try to understand and then validate they will keep talking until all the frustration is out.  That is the only thing that will change how they feel.

If your child asks you what they can do to solve their problem it is once more time to resist providing solutions.  Of course we know the answer, however, the answer needs to come from them to be effective. How about responding with "Hmmm.  I'm not sure.  What do you think will work?" Watch how smart your child becomes!  Even a small child can come up with a good solution.

Give Them A Chance to Solve the Problem

Children have a far greater capacity for problem solving than we realize.  What they don't have enough of is opportunities to discover and develop that capacity.

Five year old Sarah was walking home from the neighborhood pool.  As she passed our house I asked her "How are you today Sarah?" She replied "Not good.  The boys at the pool are making fun of me."  Validating her feelings I replied "That's no fun." Sarah replied "It sure isn't and I'm sick of it. They do it all the time." I said "That's hard, but I've got an idea you could try." In a bit of disgusted tone she asked "What?" "How about you just ignore them?"  

Sarah told me "That's not a good idea. I've tried it already and  it doesn't work."  Then I remembered to give her a chance to solve her  own problem and said "What do you think will work?" Sara thought a minute and announced "I think I am going to have my mom talk to their moms. That will work."

Given the chance to solve a problem, a child may come up with a good answer or might say "I don't know what to do." They may need help digging for an idea.  Ask them if they can think of just one idea and giving them a few minutes to think.  If they sense you are not waiting to jump in with an answer they will  use this silent time to come up with their own ideas. Encourage them to keep thinking about what might work.  Then, if they cannot come up with any ideas, you may need to give them a suggestion.  

Suggestions are not advice. Advice says "you should" or "you ought" or "you need to,"  where suggestions allow the child to make their own decisions.  Advice says you must, and if you don't you will disappoint the person giving the advice and then you'll feel guilty on top of still having the problem.  Also, if you follow advice and it doesn't work, whose fault is it, and who are you likely to discount in the future?

Suggestions might look something like this:

"I wonder what would happen if you... ."

"Here's something you might try, I'm not sure it will work, and it might"

You put no pressure on the child to use your idea, nor do you make any guarantees it will work.  You can then add this valuable phrase:

"You may even come up with a better idea."

Can you see how this process builds a young child's self confidence?  Do you see how it sets you free from the responsibility of having to solve all their problems? Do you see how it empowers them to become their own problem solver? Do you see how they will be more willing to talk over their frustrations and problems with you in the future when those problems are far more significant?  Validating your children's feelings and allowing them to solve problems will go a long way toward helping them become emotionally healthy and responsible adults.

Try Their Point of View

How many times have you witnessed (or been party to) a mother with a child throwing a temper tantrum in a store because they were told they could not have what they wanted... .a toy, some candy, etc... .?  How might validation affect these kinds of situations?

"Candy, I want some candy Momma?" The mother stoops down to the child's level and says "Oh, that does look good! Wow, there's lots of different kinds of candy here.  We don't have enough money to buy candy today, so we can't buy any, but if we could, which one would you choose?"  The child points at the peanut butter cups and says "That one is my favorite."  The mom replies "The next time we can buy candy I'm going to remember that."

Remember, walk with the child, let them feel what they are feeling. Listening to their needs and trying to understand them doesn't mean you need to give in to their every demand.  It just means you acknowledge and understand the feelings being expressed.

Hold onto Your Boundaries

I believe children have one main job in life and it is to get their own needs met at all costs.  It is only when boundaries are set and maintained that children will eventually grow up emotionally and recognize that others have needs to.  The sooner that parents learn to validate and kindly, gently, respectfully, and firmly enforce boundaries, the sooner the child will begin to respect the rights of others.  Validation does not change the boundaries; it acknowledges that the boundaries may be difficult.

Ignoring a child that is throwing a tantrum in a public place is disrespectful to others.  Validate your child's feelings and let them know kindly and gently that if they do not stop you will both have to leave.  If necessary, do it.  Let your child know the reason why you had to leave and that you will not bring them with you next time.  After some time has passed, give your child the opportunity to properly behave in that public situation again.  When your child realizes you mean what you say his behavior will change.

Enforcing boundaries may be inconvenient at the time you must enforce them and it will save you hours, maybe years, of frustration later.

For children to mature, they must learn that there are boundaries in life.  Setting and keeping boundaries when children are young is crucial preparation for the time when they become teenagers.  They will know you mean what you say.  Wise parents can help their children understand their boundaries and what is appropriate behavior.

Put Yourself in Their Shoes

Have you ever wrestled with a bored child while waiting for an appointment?  When waiting goes on and on it can become more difficult for the child to sit still, be quiet, not whine and complain.  Instead of getting irritated put yourself in your child's shoes and validate them. "It's not easy sitting here waiting is it?" Encourage them to problem solve. "What could we do to entertain ourselves without disturbing the other people here?" Don't be surprised if you find yourself in the middle of a guessing game like "I SPY" or taking turns making up a fairy tale with  your child.

Remember to get on eye level  with your child when you validate them.  Their world consists of being  looked down on and talked down to because they are just small.  Being at their level physically and looking them in the eye can create a feeling of safety and importance in your child.

The Universal Need

All children need to know that they are of worth, their feelings matter, and someone really cares about them: that is the universal need.  Trusting them to deal with their own problems, yet setting boundaries to guide their actions, is one of the best gifts we can give them.

Read more:

« Last Edit: July 17, 2019, 01:33:47 AM by Harri » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2015, 12:21:08 PM »

Great topic and another book to add to my 'to read' list!

I learned how to validate my son(10) after reading another great book 'Hold on to Your Kids' by Gordon Neufeld and I watched all his DVD's... .it has made all the difference in the world to how my son is able to express his feelings and problem solve. I hope it will help him grow up to be less codependent than his mother! It has also helped me in my adult r/ss in stepping away from trying to control other people.  I've also become aware of when my friends are validating towards me and I let them know how much it means to me and how much it has helped in my recovery. 

Thanks for sharing!

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