How to Listen so Kids Will Talk

How to validate emotions

It is natural for humans to feel a wide spectrum of emotions — be it good or bad. What you do with these feelings can make or break you! Taking the time to observe and understand your feelings—a process known as validation—is a cornerstone for mental health. When we validate ourselves, we demonstrate comprehension and acknowledge that our ideas, feelings, and drives make sense, allowing our minds to process and accept them. They might be unpleasant, can be uncomfortable and cause us to feel uneasy. They are, nonetheless, what they are and we have to learn to process and validate them. Here are some simple tips to validate the emotions of your close and loved ones, and how you can help them be in a better place. 

Emotional validation is the process of learning about, understanding and expressing acceptance of another person’s emotional experience. Validating an emotion does not mean you agree with the other person or that you think their emotional response is warranted. Rather, it is about demonstrating that you understand what they are feeling without talking them out of it or shaming them for it. 

Validation can come from other people or yourself. Self-validation involves recognizing and accepting your own thoughts and feelings. 

Here are a few key strategies to practice emotional validation:

  1. Listen and respond to them. 

Validation begins with simple listening. It is critical to provide acknowledgement to demonstrate that you have heard someone. While the speaker is speaking, say words like “OK,” “Uh-huh,” and “I see” to make them feel heard. Use body language to show them you are listening, look them in the eyes and turn your head towards them while they talk. You should stop whatever you’re doing! Demonstrate your attentiveness, presence, and engagement.

  1. Accept their feelings. 

When it comes to validating someone’s feelings, acceptance is possibly the most challenging component of the process. Although most of us are fully capable of comprehending what another person is going through, it can be difficult to separate from our own thoughts and perspectives at times. However, it is times like this that we need to put aside our own principles and ideas and accept them for who they are, and understand why they feel this way. 

  1. Reflect 

To reflect is to retell a message that someone shared with you by capturing its essence and emphasizing it in such a way that the other person feels understood.

Psychologists employ this method to create clarity and to ensure they got the message properly while building a strong therapeutic bond with their clients. When it comes to validating someone’s feelings, paraphrasing is an effective communication strategy that highlights the core meaning of the message and the emotional vibe of the situation. 

Ultimately, it may not be easy to put yourself in others’ shoes, as all of us are going through our own problems. It is through our small actions that we can make the world a better place.

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