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Use validation to help children with emotions

Use validation to help children with emotions

Parents are often at a loss of words and strategies in dealing with their kids and the many emotions they carry. Who knew ice cream could be too cold or it would be so upsetting not being able to play on the roof.

Children’s feelings may not make sense to parents or other adults but their experience is real. Validation is one of the best strategies parents can use to help calm and reduce their child’s emotional intensity and resolve it appropriately.

Validation means that you are giving your child or teen a safe non-judgmental space to express their emotional experience while showing that you understand their perspective. This will offer the all-important message that they are heard, understood and that their feelings are OK. Validation allows the child to build confidence and ability to resolve and stay resilient to future emotions.

Tips for validation

  1. Be present, put away any devices or other distractions and let them know you are there.
  2. Reflect or say back to your child what you heard
  3. Look for how what they are saying and feeling can make sense
  4. Acknowledge and describe what you see. For example: 
    • I can see that you are sad, I would be too.
    • It sounds as though you’re feeling really angry right now, I can understand that were hoping to go to the pool
    • It can be scary to do new things; how can I support you?
    • You have every right to feel disappointed, I can remember feeling that way at times.

Karissa Morris is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) at the Campbell County Medical Group Kid Clinic, a school-based pediatric clinic in Gillette, Wyoming. The medical clinic serves children ages 2 weeks to 18 years old; and counseling services for children 4 years old to 21 years old. For more information, call 307-688-8700 or visit www.cchwyo.org/kidclinic. The Kid Clinic is a collaborative effort between Campbell County Health and Campbell County School District.