The most effective way to love and affirm the child, while disapproving of the behavior, is to take time to validate the child. Validation communicates that the parent understands how the child feels and what legitimate need or desire the child tried to meet through the chosen behavior. Validation says, “I can see why you are upset and why you wanted to hit your brother.” Validation need not approve of the behavioral choice the child made. Validation is not agreement. It communicates appreciation of where the child is coming from. It is the first essential step to stress-free parenting.
Wise parents always separate problem discussion from problem solution; and never move to solution until discussion is accomplished to the satisfaction of all parties. This means everyone involved acknowledges their perspective has been validated. Often parents, and in my experience mostly mothers, find it difficult to take the time necessary for complete problem discussion. They tend to assume they know what the child is up to and immediately implement the solution. Often they are right concerning what the child is up to; but a rush to solution guarantees a frustrated, angry child who feels he or she has not been heard. Such a child will instinctively resist mom’s solution. This inevitably leads to escalated discussion, more intense emotions, and mutual frustration. A validated child will be much more cooperative and compliant. They will more easily accept mom’s solution or consequence because they feel loved and respected. Parents, who successfully regulate their emotions, take time to validate the child, and implement solutions and consequences calmly will be seen as totally in charge.
Copyright 2008 G Brenton Mock