Validating Feelings

by Heligirl on June 6, 2010

in Parenting Articles,Positive Discipline

Another installment in my Positive Discipline articles.

I’m inspired by the iPhone app I recently got called Positive Discipline Cards, which helps me resolve problems by providing quick, simple positive discipline techniques at the push of a button. I’ve been playing with it a lot, and in many cases, putting it to work. In fact, I’ve found them so great I just have to share another one with you.

Card: Validate Feelings

  1. Allow children to have their feelings so they can learn they are capable of dealing with them
  2. Don’t fix, rescue, or tray to talk children out of their feelings.
  3. Validate their feelings: “I can see you are really (angry, upset, sad).”
  4. Then keep your mouth shut and have faith in your children to work it through.

I hesitate to call Sweetness a sensitive child. Sometimes she is as solid as a rock then other times she falls apart at the smallest thing. I think she’s just an emotional child. And I’m still no where near figuring out when she might fall apart and when she won’t.

For instance, her brother always wants to come into her room when she goes in there. He just worships the ground she walks on and wants to be with her. I can’t possibly expect her to understand that. Sometimes she’s happy to have him there. Other times she can’t slam the door in his face fast enough.

This morning, as she was having her diaper changed, he crawled in to see what was up. He lit up with smiles and started jabbering as he crawled up to the changing table (dresser) to see us. Sweetness just fell apart, screaming “no baby brother, no. Go out!” I’d just read this card so I decided to put it to work.

Me: “Wow, you really are upset that your brother came in to see you. You don’t want him to be in your room right now.”

Her: “No baby brother.”

Me: “Let’s finish your diaper change so you can talk to him.”

She calmed down a bit as I hurried but started crying again as he started playing with her piano.

Her: “No. That’s my piano!!”

Me: “You don’t want him to play your piano. You’re mad at him for touching it.”

When I put her down she went to him right away, took his hands off the piano and told him “no” then left the room calling for him to follow. Of course, he did and as soon as he was out, she shut the door.

Other than supervise that she was not going to haul off and slap him, I didn’t intervene. However, afterward I expressed my observations as a way of encouraging her behavior.

Me: “You were upset that (Mr. Man) was in your room when you didn’t want him in there. You were very kind to only remove his hands from the piano without hurting him. It was very clever inviting him to follow you out and then to shut the door. You resolved that all by yourself.”

She beamed and seemed to feel just a little better about her ability to resolve her own problems.


Susan June 6, 2010 at 10:49 am

A+. Well done!

Twitter: Heligirl
June 7, 2010 at 9:16 am

Awe, shucks. Thanks!

Tracy (AKA The Mayor!) June 6, 2010 at 2:12 pm

Absolutely chickie! One of the best things I have ever done as a parent to keep the communication open is to validate…we ALL need that…think about it moms, is it any different than when your man is ALWAYS trying to “fix” things when you’re upset?? We talk to our girlfriends instead because we can cry, bitch, vent, while they nod along in agreement & help us curse out whoever pissed us off in the first place! If your kids know it’s ok to be sad or angry, you will go a long way to teaching them emotional health!! Exactly as you said…I see you’re really upset….then allow them some time & space to move past that & be in a place where they can talk about it. Great post!! 😀

Twitter: Heligirl
June 7, 2010 at 9:15 am

Aww, thanks so very much for sharing your insight! Would you be willing to step over to the community and offer some of your valuable experience? With your wild gang, and great parenting philosophies, you could really help with some great advice.

Thanks again chickadee. Love that you follow this technique, all child head butting aside.

Peter June 7, 2010 at 4:16 am

I love this card. It is so important to allow kids (everyone) to be heard, and to put a name of what they are feeling.

Twitter: Heligirl
June 7, 2010 at 9:16 am

Thanks Peter! I’ve found that many of these cards are handy outside of child rearing, like, with your boss for example. Just validating feelings can help calm someone down.

Susan June 7, 2010 at 1:43 pm

I have also found that the ideas of Positive Discipline and Developing Capable Young People work wonderfully with a variety of ages, including adults. In fact, the DCYP course was originally called Developing Capable People, and I believe it was marketed for adults.

Baby Royalty June 7, 2010 at 9:17 am

This is great. Giving children an oppurtunity at a young age to work out their own issues (within reason) is a wonderful way of showing them ownership. She was able to take not only ownership of her feelings, but also ownership of her actions. We all have emotions and feelings, but children just need a little help from parents in understand what they are, and how to use them. Keep up the good work mom!

Twitter: Heligirl
June 7, 2010 at 9:34 am

Thanks much. Yes, the real trick is finding the right balance. Help them too much, and they become reliant on you and start to form the belief that they need you there to help them solve problems. Don’t help enough, and they get frustrated and unsure of how to move forward. I think in the end it balances out. At least I hope so. 🙂

cristins June 7, 2010 at 4:24 pm

being new to this blogging world.. just came across your blog, super cool. and YES to validating and allowing children to learn how to resolve their problems (w/ some guidance of course) I have a 3.5 y.o. and an 18 m.o. and oh boy do they fight.. I have to constantly check myself since I’m such a yeller! OMG it’s insane. but I’m learning… this parenting thing is no picnic!
But I have to tell you that when my oldest son asks me “mommy do you know how I fee?” and then proceeds to tell me how he feels and why? I feel really good, I fee like I’m doing something right!

Heligirl June 7, 2010 at 6:22 pm

Cristins, what a great story. That’s wonderful that he’s telling you how he feels. Amazing stuff. Yes, I’m right there with the battles with my 2.5 year old and 1 year old. The ground rules and habits we start now will be the foundation for these little guys. BTW, I have a hard time reigning in the yelling too. The other day my daughter randomly walked in to the room, furrowed her brow and yelled at me “Quiet! Baby brother is sleeping. Quiet.” then walked out. Her brother was playing in the living room with Hubby. This was just my daughter mirroring me and it made me stop (laugh and almost pee myself) but then think about how I was talking to her. Yes, we all have out pitfalls, but they’ll do a good job of showing us where we mess up. 🙂

Kristin @ Intrepid Murmurings June 9, 2010 at 1:23 pm

Yes, I try to do this too, though I really need to do it more often, and especially remember #4! Its really hard to strike a balance and let them work through it when their sibs are involved, I’ve found. I have the card pack but need to get this app for my iPod, too — I think I’d use it a lot more! Thanks for the reminder!

Previous post:

Next post: