Relationships | Positive Parenting

The Power of Validation

A profound way to strengthen any relationship

Jillian Enright
neurodiversified
Published in
7 min readMay 7, 2021

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Photo by Kindel Media from Pexels

Have you ever had someone tell you that you were “being too sensitive” or “overreacting” to something?

How’d that work out for them? How did you feel about them after they said that?

If someone tells me that I’m overreacting it is highly likely that I will also “overreact” to being told that. So, y’know, probably don’t do that.

The Risks of Invalidation

If we invalidate children’s experiences, or encourage them to suppress their emotions by minimizing or punishing them, they will not learn healthy ways to manage those feelings.

We also invalidate other’s emotions when we attempt to logic them out of their feelings, or hurry them along to problem-solving and feeling better before they’ve had an opportunity to express and process their experience.

“Reason is probably not of much value when responding to your child’s emotional expressions. If they express sadness or fear and you try to reassure them or provide information to make the emotions go away, you are likely to make the emotions stronger.” — Hughes & Gurney-Smith

Worse, they may develop mistrust for their own experience if they are constantly told that their emotional response is “wrong”.

Although it can be very difficult to validate your child’s meltdown over being given the red cup because the blue cup is dirty, or being told to turn off the video games after having a two hour gaming marathon, it’s important that we take a deep breath before responding.

“These are responses that cause kids to feel (often accurately) that their concerns are being ignored, disregarded, dismissed, or diminished.”

— Dr. Ross Greene

The emotions children experience are just as real and intense, regardless of whether we understand and agree with the reason for them.

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Jillian Enright
neurodiversified

She/they. Neurodivergent, 20+ yrs SW & Psych. experience. I write about mental health, neurodiversity, education, and parenting. Founder of Neurodiversity MB.