How to provide 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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I spoke in my last post about the importance of providing children with a validating social environment. That is one where their emotions are noticed, understood and responded to appropriately. ⁠

Here’s a few practical ideas of how to provide validation for your children (and anyone else who needs it!)⁠

🌸Actively listen⁠
🌸Carefully observe what the other person is feeling in the moment. Look for a word which describes what you think they’re feeling⁠
🌸Label the feeling to them without judgement – communicate to the person that you understand how the other person is feeling⁠
🌸Look for how the person’s feelings, thoughts or actions make sense within the context of the situation they’re in or in the context of their personal history. Note – you don’t have to APPROVE of the emotions or behaviours, you just have to acknowledge that they make sense.⁠
🌸Respond in a way which shows you care taking the other person seriously and (particularly with young children) model how they could problem solve the situation or help themselves feel better.⁠

But remember:⁠

🌸Don’t validate the invalid! If someone’s behaviour is unacceptable, we can still validate the emotion without validating the behaviour. ⁠
🌸Validation does not mean agreeing or approving of the other person’s actions or feelings. Understanding is not the same as agreeing!⁠
🌸Do not confuse validation with reassurance, praise, sharing your own experiences, teaching someone a lesson or solving a problem for someone. ⁠

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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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