Implicit Validation

by Scott Noelle

Much is said about the importance of validating children’s feelings — telling children that it’s okay to feel how they feel.

What’s rarely acknowledged is that children innately know their feelings are valid, so they don’t need explicit validation unless they’ve been previously invalidated.

When the child’s inherent sense of worthiness is intact, the real beneficiary of explicit validation is the parent whose feelings were invalidated in childhood.

Children derive greater benefit from implicit validation, which is most powerfully expressed when we are willing to be fully present with them as they move through their emotions.

No words are needed to validate implicitly. You never say, “It’s okay to be happy,” you just know it’s okay. So why say, “It’s okay to be sad/mad/etc,” if so-called “negative” emotions are just as valid as the “positive” ones?

You’ll find it easier to stay present if you hold this thought: Children who have strong feelings are blessed with strong Inner Guidance.

Originally published on 2006-09-21
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