Validating another person is when you recognize another person’s feelings and thoughts. It is especially important to validate teens because they can feel misunderstood at times. Validation shows teens that we are listening, we understand them, we can talk about their emotions, and we care about them.
In order to communicate effectively with your teen, it can be helpful to remember a few things:
Make Eye contact
Show your teen that you are listening by making eye contact with them. Do this by turning off the TV or putting away your book, phone, or other objects when they approach you.
Don’t make faces
It can be helpful to remember not to make any faces while your teen is sharing with you.
In order to feel fully heard, it is helpful to allow your teen the space and time to express themselves. Although you may have some questions about what your teen is sharing with you, remember to allow your teen time to share their emotions.
Stay focused on what your teen is sharing with you by limiting distractions and being mindful of the moment.
Show that you are understanding through validation statements
You can express to your teen that you understand them through validating statements!
Here is a list of validating statements vs. invalidating statements:
- Your emotion makes sense…
- I can see why you feel (insert emotion)…
- That must have been really tough/challenging/difficult to say…
- That must have felt (insert emotion)…
- What you are thinking/feeling is valid…
- It sounds like you are having a (insert emotion) day…
- I’m grateful that you shared this with me…
- Thank you for taking the time to share this with me…
- I want to hear more about what happened… (focusing on what happened rather than focusing on what is wrong)
- How can I be there for you?
- You will understand when you are older.
- Why would you feel that way?
- Why would you react that way?
- Why can’t you just be happy?
- It doesn’t make sense that you are upset.
- Just get over it.
- It could be worse…(any comparisons to people that have it “worse” can lead to a teen feeling like a burden that they are upset over their experience)
- We do so much for you, why can’t you just be happy?
- This doesn’t matter.
- You shouldn’t feel this way.
Remember to recognize your teen’s emotion and to use a validating statement that shows them that you understand what they are experiencing. It can also help to ask your teen how you can be there for them. At times, they may want your assistance in problem-solving, and other times they may just want you to lend them an open ear.
Rathus, J. H., Miller, A. L., & Linehan, M. (2017). Dbt Skills Manual for Adolescents. The Guilford Press.
What is invalidation? 5 things you shouldn’t say. Dr. Jamie Long, Fort Lauderdale Psychologist. (2020, May 22). Retrieved May 6, 2022, from https://drjamielong.com/
Smith, A. (2021, August 29). 37 validating statements (a quick cheat sheet for when you are stuck). Amanda L. Smith, LCSW. Retrieved May 6, 2022, from https://www.hopeforbpd.com/
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