The importance of emotional validation

The Wellbeing Doctor

I'm an NHS Clinical Psychologist (in training) sharing practical evidence-based ideas for looking after your mental and physical health.

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Emotional validation is the process of being curious about, understanding and expressing acceptance of other people’s emotions. The negative impact of environments where our emotions are invalidated, particularly in childhood, can be huge and long-lasting. ⁠

An invalidating social environment is one where your emotions are ignored, misunderstood or responded to with hostility. Your emotions may be responded to with phrases such as “don’t be such a baby”, “stop crying and get on with it” or “normal people don’t get this upset/ angry/ frustrated”. ⁠

In these environments, children may learn that what they are feeling or thinking doesn’t make sense, is wrong, is confusing, weird, bad or abnormal. They may learn that emotions are confusing and can’t be trusted. They may learn that there’s no point in expressing their emotions as they won’t receive any help if they do. They may learn that expressing their emotions results in anger, punishment or harm from others. ⁠

Emotional validation communicates to a child that their feelings, thoughts and behaviours make sense and are understandable in the context of the situation. It labels to them what the emotion is and provides some understanding of why they feel this way and how to manage that emotion. It helps children learn that they are cared about, listened to, understood and that their emotions are not something to be scared of. ⁠

Validation improves relationships, de-escalates conflict and intense emotions and shows others we are listening and are non-judgemental. ⁠

Look out for my next post for how to validate your child’s emotions effectively. ⁠

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The Wellbeing Doctor

I'm an NHS Clinical Psychologist (in training) sharing practical evidence-based ideas for looking after your mental and physical health.

Follow On Instagram

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