How we can use attunement and validation to help our kids (and anyone else we care about) through BIG EMOTIONS with these five steps from A Little Spot of Emotion by Diane Alber:
First, what is Validation? Validation is affirming or recognizing that a person’s feelings or opinions are worthwhile. We ALL need validation and it is especially important in the parent-child relationship. Validating your child’s feelings is very beneficial for their development and mental health as they will feel that their voice is heard and understood. Validation is a part of the attunement process - which is the way we ‘tune in’ to a child’s needs, work to understand their thoughts, and respond to how they are feeling and behaving in ways that meet their emotional needs.
1. Acknowledge the Emotion
Let the child know you are noticing that they are experiencing a feeling
GET CURIOUS and SAY: “What's up? You Ok? What Happened?” or “I can tell something is upsetting you…”
2. Label the Emotion
Help the child understand what emotion they are feeling
OBSERVE and SAY: “Are you frustrated? Are you feeling sad?”
Give Examples: “I noticed that you haven’t been spending time with John anymore…” “You seem less talkative than normal…” “You don’t seem motivated to do your school work…Is everything OK?”
3. Validate the Emotion
All emotions are valid, even if the emotion doesn't fit the problem. Validate the perspective/emotion/subject. Do not reassure it away, do not challenge it, do not judge it.
PROVIDE UNDERSTANDING and SAY: “It sounds like you feel____because of _____. Does that sound about right?”
4. Problem Solve
Help the child explore the problem
SAY: “Tell me what happened to make you feel this way” or “Let's look at some choices you have…” This discussion can include how others may be feeling and what limits may be placed ( ie: “ I can understand why you wouldn’t want to be in class, but I expect you to complete some work. What can we do to make the classroom feel safe for you?”
5. Meet the Need
Help the Child Move Through the Emotion
SAY: If the child is angry “I am going to wait over here until you are ready.”
If the child is sad “It’s okay to cry, do you want a hug?”
If the child is anxious “You're safe, I am here for you. Tell me about it.”
For more from the “ A Little Spot of Emotion “ series, visit Diane Alber’s website.
Inner Oak Therapy