If you follow our <a href=”http://www.youtube.com/marin8d” target=”_blank”>YouTube Channel</a> we often talk about parenting that doesn’t require spanking, punishment or threats. We don’t approach whining or throwing fits as bad behavior that need suppressing, but rather an opportunity to validate our child’s feelings so they can move forward and learn how to deal with life’s hardships. Many of our followers ask how this parenting approach can not only be done, but result in a cooperative and unspoiled child.
The Process of Validation:
I myself struggled with the concept when initially incorporating it into our parenting habits. It goes against how I was raised and what society has told me would only breed a spoiled and difficult child. My perception changed when the results of our determination came to fruition.
During the summer we started going to the pool after which we’d come home and shower. Love (our toddler) did not like this one bit. She put up a huge fuss about it. Why would she want to get wet again when she’s already been in the pool and gotten out?
The first day she rejected the shower. She didn’t want to take her swim suit off and she didn’t want to go near the bathroom. Instead of “forcing her” by picking her up and putting her in the tub, I followed her around and validated her feelings. She was whining the whole time. I would genuinely listen then confirm my understanding by saying things like, “You didn’t want to take a shower because you are already dry?“…”Did you have something else that you were planning on doing instead of taking a shower?”… “Did you not care to get wet again?”
I continue to validate her in this way without imposing any negative labels or emotions on her, almost in an asking kind of way. Eventually and amazingly, she responds. I’ll say, “Did you not want to shower?” and she’ll say, “Yes.” Or “Were you done being wet today?” and she’ll confirm, “Done“. Once she stops whining and starts responding, I know she feels like I understand her.
It’s important to really exude the energy that you want to understand, so they know you are aware and acknowledge their conflict, and are not only trying to manipulate them into your way.
Once she’s been validated I start to explain to her why its my preference that she showers, “I know it’s not very appealing to shower right now, but it’s important to me that you do because the chlorine on your skin is harmful if not rinsed off.” I continue, although it seems like she doesn’t understand. “It’s just something we do, shower after swimming.”
There is no fear (if you don’t…) or “fixing” (lets just do it real quick) nor bribing (I’ll get you candy if you do) involved. Just explaining why it’s important to me. This all took less than 10 minutes…
Before I knew it she grabbed her bath toys, threw them in the tub, pulled off her swim suit and got in on her own. The next day I had to do the same process for less than 5 minutes and we’ve never had any fuss since then. She now automatically goes to the tub every time we return home from the pool.
Kids feel energy more than we give them credit for. Just like if you were to have a problem and wanted to vent, you want your friend to tell you, “I understand, that must be difficult.” Instead of, “Well, just get over it.” or “You know what you should do…”
We all need to feel validated. Once we do, it’s easy to feel cared for and open up to understanding and validating that other person’s point of view in return, even if it doesn’t coincide with your perspective.
Often this approach seems inefficient because we live such busy lives… Who has the time to follow their 18 month around explaining things that they don’t seem to understand? What I have found is that it only takes a couple times of genuine validation and then the “issue” is resolved without any more fuss, stress or manipulation. It’s been well worth the effort instead of having to fight about it EVERY time, resulting in a negative, uncooperative experience for both you and your child.
Validation becomes easier for both parent and child with practice. Eventually our daughter just knew when she wasn’t going to get her way. She’d whine about something once, as if she were on the verge of a full blown tantrum and all we’d have to ask is, “You really didn’t want to leave did you?” To which she’d respond, “Leave“, as she willingly allowed us to strap her into the stroller. We’d validate her, “I see. It was a lot of fun playing here, wasn’t it? We have to eat lunch though, so we’re going home for now.” Usually she’d confirm her understanding by repeating the words, “I see” or “home“.
Some last words on validation:
Try to change the perception of a disgruntled child being a spoiled child. With your loving guidance, they grow and learn to accept negative emotions and circumstances, learning how to deal with them and express them in a healthy manner, rather than suppressing them until the pot eventually boils over. Remember that your child is new to this world and their understanding of it is completely different from you. Try to reassess your expectations of him and continue to persist with patience and acceptance as he goes through stages of testing, resisting, expressing, learning, growing and flourishing.
Lastly, if validation doesn’t seem to work, check yourself. Sometimes there are underlying issues that need to be solved when on the surface it simply looks like an unhappy, bratty child. Other times a child is not given enough autonomy. Often it is something the parents overlook or are not consistent with.
An example of this is our two year old’s extreme whining. No matter how much we validate, her whining persists. First, it’s important to remember that whining is not a bad thing, but when it appears her whining about spilled food isn’t halted after some validation and cleaning, there must be an underlying frustration. What we found is that she had subtly tried to tell us the food had spilled, among many other things that went unheard. Whining was the only way to get our attention and though we validated her upset, we still asked her to use her words to let us know. How frustrating must that feel for her when she attempted to let us know, but we were the ones not paying attention?
She may not talk, but she certainly understands when we don’t understand. Work together with your child as a team. We have found when there is no ranking, “I’m the boss cause I’m the parent“, there is no power struggle, only caring and teamwork left to make it through.