The Secret to Getting Your Kid to Stop Crying When They Don’t Get Their Way

Why We Should Validate a Child’s Feelings: An In-depth Look at Emotional Validation

*Trigger-warning: This post discusses self-harm*

For many of us, what I’m about to share will fly in the face of everything we know about how to ensure our kids aren’t “spoiled brats.” Most of us were raised by Boomers, and that generation (mostly) didn’t tolerate any kind of validation of feelings.

Growing up, we all heard a variation of the statement, “You get what you get, and you don’t get upset.” And if we did get upset, we knew to hide it as best we could. After all, it was hardly worth the shaming or spanking we’d be met with if we did give into expressing our emotions.

black mother on why you should validate a child's feelings

Now that we’re parents, we remember not loving how that felt, so we’d like to do things differently. We want our kids to be able to express their feelings. But if we’re going to be real, we also don’t want to hear those feelings all the time. Incessant crying and whining can drive even the most well-intentioned parent over the edge.

Is there a happy medium? Is it possible for us to allow our kids to express themselves while also keeping our sanity by not having to hear all that crying?

The answer? Yes and No.

A child’s feelings are like seeds. When we validate these feelings, we water these seeds, allowing them to grow and flourish. But what does it mean to validate a child’s feelings, and why is it so important?

black mother and son holding eachother as she validates a child's feelings. why you should validate a child's feelings

Why We Should Validate a Child’s Feelings

Validating your child’s feelings is not just about acknowledging their emotions. It is about giving them a safe space to express themselves, to feel heard, and to feel understood. It is about building an environment of trust and support that helps in their overall development and mental health.

I was always a sensitive kid. I cried about any and everything, and more often than not I was met with “You’re just doing this for attention.” or “Are you a baby? Only baby’s cry over every little thing.” And I believed them. I grew to be ashamed for having my feelings and began to resent myself for not being able to keep them in check.

Of course, as I got older, I learned to hide my emotions to not evoke feelings of shame. The very idea that we should validate a child’s feelings was foreign to my caregivers.

I concluded that something was wrong with me, and I simply hoped that someday I’d get better about being like everyone else. As a teen, I turned to cutting my wrists as a way to self-soothe, as I did not know how to regulate my emotions and didn’t have a safe place to go with my feelings. A place where I would not be shamed for having feelings I could not control.

And I’m not alone.

According to the Manhattan Psychology Group:

Validation helps de-escalate emotionally-charged situations, while allowing your child to feel heard, understood and accepted. When children are validated, they experience a reduction in the intensity of their emotions. Reducing the intensity of the emotion allows them to move through the meltdown faster, and it opens your child up to problem-solving or pushing through a difficult situation or task. Your child is better able to decide what to do next, rather than letting the emotion drive the behavioral response.

By shaming me into silence, I learned to internalize feelings, not how to express them in healthy ways. I didn’t even understand my own feelings. I didn’t have the language to begin to process them

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Lisa J-Francois| Boston Conscious Parenting Mama 🇭🇹 (@consciouslylisa_)

why its important to help your child regulate their emotions 1

When I first began learning about Conscious Parenting, I didn’t understand why all these parents kept telling their crying or whining kids, ” It’s okay to cry.” “I understand how you feel.” It didn’t make sense to me. It seemed that it would only make those children give into more of their absurd demands.

Don’t come for me, y’all, this walk is a journey!

I didn’t understand it, but I was open to giving it a try. There had to be a reason why it’s so common in this space. So I started to do it. Not just once, but all the time. And guess what? My kids have started to learn how to validate their own emotions.

My four-year-old, typically, cries about something for under a minute before wiping his own tears away and declaring, “I’m okay. I’m fine.” He’s taken to using the very language I use to calm him down on himself.  I wouldn’t have believed it myself, but it works.

Why We Should Validate a Child’s Feelings: Emotional Regulation

When we validate a child’s feelings, we teach them emotional regulation. This means helping your child understand their emotions, giving them the tools to express themselves effectively, and guiding them on how to cope with their feelings in a healthy manner.

Emotional regulation is an essential skill that aids them not only during their childhood but also in their adult life.

Why We Should Validate a Child’s Feelings: The Foundation of Healthy Relationships

Trust is the cornerstone of any relationship, and it starts from childhood. When we validate our child’s feelings, we are showing them that their feelings are important, that they are heard, and that they can trust us with their emotions.

This trust is not just crucial for the parent-child relationship but also sets the foundation for their future relationships.

According to Jeffrey Bernstein Ph.D. of Psychology Today,

“Validating” means giving your child or teen that all-important, and seemingly elusive, message that “Your feelings make sense. I not only am giving you permission to feel what you feel but I am also welcoming and accepting your feelings in a non-judgmental way.” Validating your child coveys deep empathy. This will help build your child’s self-esteem and reduce his or her defiant behavior, which is often the language choice of children who do not feel understood.

By being your child’s safe space, you’ve become someone they trust. Someone they like. And aren’t you more likely to want to get along with someone you trust? And aren’t you more likely to be trusting of others if you come from a safe and trusting home?

The Secret to Getting Your Kid to Stop Crying When They Don’t Get Their Way

Validating a child’s feelings is not just about acknowledging their emotions. It’s not just about getting them to stop crying so you aren’t triggered. It’s about fostering emotional regulation, building trust, and, most importantly, showing them that their feelings matter.

So the next time your child is crying their head off about not getting their way (or for whatever reason) remember to validate them, because every emotion, every feeling is a step towards their overall development and mental health. This doesn’t mean the child will stop crying on the spot, but overtime that behavior will lessen.

By the way, there is nothing wrong with crying. I give myself a good cry at least once a week, that being said, as parents it can be triggering   to have to hear it, so if we can help our children to calm down faster, it doesn’t hurt to give it a try.

And remember, a child who feels validated is a child who feels loved.

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