5 Ways To Validate Your Child

15 Jul

Can I tell you? A father’s underlying job isn’t control. It’s to VALIDATE every one of his children. To validate means to let your child know over and over, through words and actions that the following are true:

    1. “You exist and you matter to me.”
    2. “You are more than good enough for me.”
    3. “You are a good child, unique, and a gift from God.”

Psychotherapists talk about the ‘looking glass self principle’ – it’s the idea that children get their earliest, most lasting impressions of who they are from what’s reflected back to them by their parents. These impressions become their “records” in the jukebox of their brain. 

Here are 5 ways you can validate your child:

#1. Don’t miss small opportunities to give attention to your child.  

Let’s say my four-year old Jaime walks into the room where his dad is reading the newspaper, and Dad doesn’t confirm his presence. Dad doesn’t say, “Good to see you, son!” He doesn’t even say, “Don’t bother me, don’t you know I am trying to read?” Jaime may begin to doubt his own existence. His existence hasn’t been validated by any response. He interprets this to mean “I am not an okay person.” This may be a totally wrong interpretation by Jaime. His dad does not believe this but this is how Jaime and most children will interpret this scenario. This is the way children’s brain operate. 

That’s often why children do bad things. My then twelve year old Miguel remembered the fun he used to have with his dad. Those days, though, Dad traveled and worked most of the time and buried himself in tv news when he was home. Without asking, Miguel borrowed his father’s expensive jacket and took it to school. Somewhere along the way, he soiled the jacket. When he confessed, Dad yelled at Miguel for being “careless,” and irresponsible and for not asking permission. After that, Miguel didn’t think there was much chance he would ever be able to borrow anything from Dad again. 

It was a good thing that Dad realized what a terrible mistake he had done and asked forgiveness to Miguel for shouting and for saying terrible things which he actually did not mean. He validated Miguel by saying how much he loves him and carefully talked to him about the importance of respect, asking permission, and responsibility.

In this case, by misbehaving, kids got some response, even if it was negative. By acting out, kids can affirm they exist and their existence has an impact on the world around them. They get something from their parents, even if it’s punishment. To avoid that kind of acting out, remember that our kids need attention and our time. A dad’s validation is so critical to a child that he will go to any length to get it, whether real or artificial.

time with sons

As a dad, my husband has not missed any opportunity to make time and pay attention to our two sons. He is present at all of their practices, games, and tournaments.

#2. Pay attention to who your child really is, not what he can do.

Your job is to see your child’s nature and reflect it back to her. Feed these observations back to your child in a non-judgmental way so that he can see himself through your eyes and so that he can see how well you know him.

Validation also doesn’t mean lying. It doesn’t mean telling our child, “Great game, son!” when he played poorly. Validation means acknowledging your child, affirming the person apart from the not-so-good performance. You should avoid withholding validation when your child doesn’t “measure up.”

You want him to grow up full of confidence, so you give his mediocre performance rave reviews. You want him to achieve, so you skip the praise so that he’ll try harder to earn it.

Our culture is so conditional in its validation, affirming only those who’ve won fame or fortune, or been born with “good looks.” It’s easy for anyone to validate a good performance, but it takes a lot of time and energy to see and value the person in the absence of any performance and put it into words. Your child needs to see that you value him as your child, not for what he can do.

#3. Show your child that you like as well as love him. 

It’s vital that your child not only knows, but feels, that you like and love him. Warm, caring hugs, laughter, and truly enjoying your child’s personality all go a long way toward conveying that feeling to your child. Knowing that he’s loved is not the same as feeling loved. Make him feel loved. 

Seek to understand what he likes doing, what he’s feeling, and what makes him happy. Strive to be emotionally connected with him. Spontaneously give him extra hug when you notice him feeling sad. Spend extra time with him if you feel he needs it. Do something extra special for him, like fixing him his favorite snacks, writing him a thoughtful note in his “baon” or lunch box, or giving him a massage when he’s feeling tired. All these ways show him that you deeply care and love him.

letter from jaime

A letter from our youngest son validates us as parents that we were able to show him and make him feel loved. My heart is filled with joy!

#4. Exercise positive discipline with your child.

Aim for a respectful relationship with your child. When you employ the wrong kind of discipline and fight with your child over your will, it often leads to resentment, revenge, anger, rebellion and retreat. Emotions are ignored or disregarded when you fight with your child in your effort to discipline him. You can develop or learn a positive approach to discipline to promote self-control, encourage responsibility, and help him make better choices. One such approach involves applying consequences to poor choices like taking out privileges, reducing daily allowances, or lessening his phone or computer time. Be prepared though to dare to discipline your child, even when he deserves a rod. 

Keep in mind to value your child as a person, even when disciplining an action or attitude. Make sure your child knows he is good enough for you.

#5. View things from your child’s perspective, especially when it comes to his emotions.

When you validate your child’s emotions, you are able to see the situation from his perspective. When you take the perspective of your child and truly understand how he is feeling in that moment, you are able to validate his emotions. There are three benefits of taking your child’s perspective, based from Alfie Kohn.

The first benefit of taking your child’s perspective is that it allows you to understand what the child is going through, especially if your child is unable to explain his motives. The second benefit is that it allows you to be more patient with your child’s moods. The third benefit is that when you practice taking your child’s perspective and communicate and validate him, you are setting an example of the importance of validating others’ emotions.

The act of validating our children’s emotions is a crucial part of effective parenting. When you recognize that your child has emotions, you are showing him that you love and care for him. This helps him to eliminate feelings of resentment and anger toward you as his parents.

Validating children’s emotions has been proven to be successful in strengthening the relationship between parents and children. As adults, we often become offended and frustrated when people pass off or minimize our frustration. We don’t want to be ignored, and neither do children. They may start to feel like we don’t care. What do you want someone to say to you when you’re upset, sad, frustrated or angry? We want them to feel our pain, and understand what we are going through. It is the same with your child.

Remember, your real job as a father is to validate your child.

What are your ways to validate your child?

Life is Amazing!

LENY

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