Validating children’s feelings helps in their emotional development

Validating children’s feelings makes them develop more their emotional intelligence, as well as their social skills. Invalidating them, on the other hand, leaves traces that will manifest themselves in their adult life.

Last update: December 16, 2021

Validating children’s feelings is more important than many parents realize. This helps them to recognize themselves and to consolidate a solid personality. All of this will be reflected in his adult life.

There are parents who are convinced that validating the feelings of their children consists of flattering them and filling them with pampering. However, this does not allow them to identify their own emotions and thoughts.

The purpose is not to make them feel special or loved, but favor the recognition of their subjectivity, so that they themselves develop strategies to self-regulate their emotions.

Validate children’s feelings is to organize their emotions

Even if they don’t notice it, many parents frequently invalidate their children. They do it unintentionally, for lack of information. It happens when, for example, the child breaks a doll and the father minimizes what happened, telling him that tomorrow they will buy another one.

The point is that it is not always clear what it means to validate children’s feelings. To put it very simply, it could be said that it is helping the child to translate his feelings into words. Only with this will he gain a better understanding of what you are feeling and deal with it more wisely.

If we return to the example already exposed, the validation in that case would consist of saying something like “You are sad and angry because you lost your doll and it is important to you”. Such a message allows the little one to organize his emotions.

The person who developed the theory of validation of feelings was the American psychologist and social worker Naomi Feld. She held the idea that if feelings of anger, anguish or pain are ignored, they are strengthened. However, when recognizing them they are relieved and their intensity is reduced.

How to validate the feelings of the children?

Among human needs is to regain balance and tranquility when they have been altered for any reason. Recognize and validate the emotions that give rise to the imbalance it is one of the ways to regain serenity.

However, it is not always easy to go from theory to practice. The following are some guidelines to do so.

Parent-child closeness is key so that children can express themselves without fear.

Empathic dialogue

Empathic dialogue is based on openness to the child’s feelings and the ability to understand situations from their point of view. This is achieved, in principle, by learning to listen without judging.

Sometimes parents want to intervene immediately to alleviate the negative feelings they detect in their children, because this distresses them. They may choose to compensate them by denying the validity of such feelings.

The most successful thing is not to do this, but to take a moment to open up to the little one and listen to him. Such listening goes beyond words, as it involves interpreting their gestures, attitudes and emotions. The idea is not to intervene immediately, but give place to silence and listen to it before doing something.



Accompany instead of direct

Validate children’s feelings It has more to do with accompanying this growth and development process than with directing it.. When the little one expresses negative moods or feelings, inside he suffers. This may not be entirely understandable to an adult, but it is.

The role of parents, at that time, is to be present and help the child to undo that inner labyrinth in which he is without hurting him. It is important to understand that children often express what they feel inappropriately. They are in formation.

Ideally, parents should become a point of reference. You do not respond to lack of control with lack of control, but with serenity. The father or mother are the shore to which the child can be held to get out of his discomfort.

Not offering solutions, but validating

When it comes to validating the feelings of children, what is referred to is allow, accept and respect that they feel what they feel. The goal is not to tell them what to do or to try to resolve the situation they are in.

Validating in an adequate way implies recognizing what the child feels and facilitating the way for him to recognize it as well. Gesture language can help a lot. For example, squat down to be level with him. Also, use words that you can understand.

The usual thing is that at the beginning, the child does not want connect with parents, especially if he is angry. Sometimes it’s just a matter of giving it a few minutes to feel and realize that the parents are there, ready to help him.

Accept and respect

An upset person, be it a child or an adult, does not need verbiage, but a punctual and effective communication. It is important to speak in such a way that you listen, vocalizing well and using only the necessary words. The tone should be neutral.

Many times it is not easy for a parent to stay safe in situations like this. If you feel that you are not in a position to deal with it, you should also give yourself some time to regain your own balance – it is time to validate your own feelings.

The child is in the process of formation and cannot act as an adult would. A good technique is to seek dialogue and paraphrase what the child says, so that both of you understand it better. Likewise, it is convenient to normalize feelings. Feeling angry or upset is not something to write home about.



Tips and recommendations to validate children’s feelings

Validating children’s feelings makes them feel understood and accepted. This provides them with well-being and reduces the intensity of the negative emotion that invades them. Later, there is an open-mindedness towards the search for solutions.

The result of this is that the child manages to feel more in tune with himself and with a greater capacity to process situations autonomously. This increases his emotional intelligence and will be of great help to him in the future.

However, it is not only the child who wins with this. As parents help their child handle their emotions more accurately, parenting is also made easier.

When parents validate their children’s feelings, they make them more tolerant of frustration. Likewise, that they develop more compassion and empathy with others.

Validation of feelings is not only beneficial for children. Parents also get stronger.

Children are not miniature adults

It is not easy for an adult to put himself in the place of a child. This is why some parents inadvertently invalidate their children’s feelings. Sometimes, what for the little ones is a big problem, for the adults it is a matter of no consequence.

It is precisely this perspective that must be changed. It is not true that a child is a miniature adult. He is someone who is just beginning to accumulate learnings and experiences; that’s why you need help to find your way.

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