Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mommy's Helper: Validation

Hey Moms!

Next time your child gets upset about something that you as an adult find trivial, instead of dismissing it and telling your child why they shouldn't let it bother them, simply validate their feelings, give them a big hug and move on.

For example, if your child doesn't want to go to bed and starts whining about it. Instead of saying, "Oh, it's not that bad. Don't make such a fuss over it." Simply say, "Honey, I know it sucks to have to go to bed. Sometimes I don't like to go to bed either." Hug-hug. And go tuck them in. You might be surprised at how far that small amount of validation of their feelings as being real and important goes.

Last night, after I had already tucked Cameron in bed, he came to me and sat on my lap tearing eyed saying he wanted to "take a day off school" tomorrow. I asked him why, and in his own 6 year old way (but not in these exact words) he communicated to me that things were new and different and that he was scared of the changes. I hugged him closely and told him that I understood how he felt because I get nervous when I start something new too, that it may take a little time to get used to his new class, and that it would start being more fun as the days went on. I also reminded him of the good things that happened that day (like playing on the playground with his friends for two recesses). He found a lot of comfort in my words and he went right back to bed and slept through the night. It might not have ended so well had I just told him "It's okay honey, you'll be fine. Don't worry about it," before sending him back to bed. Knowing him, he probably would have kept getting up because he didn't feel heard or understood.

Now, I'm not a perfect mom by any means and I DO NOT have all the answers to every parenting dilemma. This is just something that has worked for our family. I try to remember that children see the world very differently than we do. Think about how devastated you are when you lose your cell phone, keys, or purse. That's how they might feel when they accidentally let go of their balloon or when they realize their mom forgot to put their blue folder in their backpack (oops). It's all in how the person views the world.

So the next time your child gets upset over something (no matter how silly it seems to you), take a moment to view things from their perspective before responding. The results might surprise you.

*If you have any tips for future Mommy's Helper posts, I'd love to hear them. Please email them to me. My email address in on my sidebar. Thank you.


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