The Power of Validation

The Power of Validation

Do you ever get defensive in a conversation with your spouse or loved one because they just aren’t validating your feelings? Why can’t they simply acknowledge the frustration you’re feeling before swooping in to fix everything?

No? Is it just me?

If I am upset and someone tells me to “stop acting that way” and move on…those are fighting words! I think most of us can think of a time when a situation could have been made better by just having someone empathize and make space for what we are feeling.

So why do we not extend this same principle to teenagers and kids?

Take my 4-year-old for example. He is smarter and more capable than I often give him credit for. But he also has a wide range of emotions and regularly has trouble managing them in appropriate ways (sound like any teenagers you know?). As a parent, it is easy to ask him to be quiet, or stop crying, or quit yelling, or calm down. But what he really needs in that moment is for me to first validate his feelings.

In my house, it could look something like this:

Toddler: *crying because he has to go to bed*
Me: You are upset because you don’t want to stop playing. I understand how that would make you sad. But we have to go to bed so that we can have the energy to play tomorrow! What is the first thing you want to play with when we wake up in the morning?

After the situation has been diffused and he has calmed down, it is much easier to ask the question, “What is a better way for us to act next time we are upset?” I don’t know about you, but positive conversations rarely happen when we are in the heat of the moment. Your kids, teenagers, or spouse is probably not in the mood to be reasoned with if they don’t first feel heard and understood.

Here are a few reasons validation is so important:

It models healthy ways to talk about emotions. You can name their emotion and give them the chance to agree or name a different emotion. Verbalizing feelings is a skill that will benefit them far after they leave your house or classroom.

It reiterates that feelings are not a negative thing. We don’t want teenagers to feel like they are ever being punished for their feelings. Emotions aren’t negative! Often this negative connotation is put on our young men, but every gender and age deals with different emotions every day. We are not trying to correct emotions, but we can accept feelings and then work on better ways to react to them.

It builds self-confidence and trust. When you acknowledge feelings, you are communicating with your teenager that you are trustworthy. You see them and love them as they are – feelings and all! When they can put voice to their feelings, it will also build confidence. They know what is going on in their own mind and can work on tools that will help them express feelings in a way that is both truthful and empowering. When they control their reaction to feelings instead of letting emotions control them, it is a powerful thing!

This is a practice that I am still working on. I am not always perfect at this, but when I take the time to validate feelings first, I have found that some arguments are avoided and tantrums are shorter.

Validating feelings is not a miraculous trick. It won’t stop all disagreements or emotional outbursts. However, I do hope that it will lead to better understanding. I hope it will build trust between yourself and the teen (or child, or adult) that you love. I hope it will help you start positive conversations around emotions so that everyone involved can grow.

Karlie Duke

Karlie Duke

Marketing & Development Director

Karlie was in one of Teen Life’s original support groups and now is passionate about encouraging students to live better stories. She has gained experience working with teenagers through work, volunteer, and personal opportunities.
Ep. 28: Self Harm & Devious Licks

Ep. 28: Self Harm & Devious Licks

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Summary:
Do you know what to look for when a student is self-harming? On episode 28, we talk about the signs of self-harm and why teenagers choose it over other ways to deal with their emotions (00:18). Listen for action steps you can take to help. Then don’t miss the conversation about the latest TikTok trend that impacted school campuses all over the country, “Devious Licks” (12:56). Tell us about your own experience with TikTok trends in the comments! Also, make sure you get a copy of the Ultimate Adult Guide to TikTok (20:20).

In this episode, we mentioned the following resources:

*Please Note: The examples of damage done by the Devious Lick challenge were removed by TikTok administrators.

Have a question?
If you have a question about something you heard or just want to give us some feedback, please leave us a comment below or email podcast@teenlife.ngo.  We would love to hear from you!
About Us:
Chris Robey

Chris Robey

CEO

Chris has worked with teens from a variety of backgrounds for over a decade. He has a desire to help teenagers make good choices while also giving their families tools to communicate more effectively as choices are made.
Karlie Duke

Karlie Duke

Director of Communications

Karlie was in one of Teen Life’s original support groups and now is passionate about encouraging students to live better stories. She has gained experience working with teenagers through work, volunteer, and personal opportunities.

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Ep. 10: Searching for Identity & Vaping

Ep. 10: Searching for Identity & Vaping

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Summary:
Adolescence is hard work! One of the biggest reasons it’s so hard is because as teens we explore who we are and develop our identity. So how do we help teens develop their identity? Find out more on this week’s episode as Chris and Karlie discuss identity. They’ll also share the important facts on vaping, a health hazard that 1 in 5 teens is doing. Plus, don’t miss the breakdown on fun, family friendly games that bring everyone together.

All Teen Life Summit sessions are available on demand until August 10. Register and watch at any time. Use code podcast20 for $20 off!

Have a question? If you have a question about something you heard or just want to give us some feedback, please leave us a comment below.  We would love to hear from you!
About Us:
Chris Robey

Chris Robey

CEO

Chris has worked with teens from a variety of backgrounds for over a decade. He has a desire to help teenagers make good choices while also giving their families tools to communicate more effectively as choices are made.
Karlie Duke

Karlie Duke

Director of Communications

Karlie was in one of Teen Life’s original support groups and now is passionate about encouraging students to live better stories. She has gained experience working with teenagers through work, volunteer, and personal opportunities.

Follow Us

Ep. 8: Finding Strengths & Emojis

Ep. 8: Finding Strengths & Emojis

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Summary:
One of the most difficult aspects of personal development is not only facing challenges, but also finding strengths. And if it’s hard as an adult, for many teenagers it can feel impossible. Chris and Karlie discuss ways to help teenagers discover strengths and pursue them. And if you’ve ever been confused about how teens use emojis these days, lean into this episode! We’ll tell you which emojis show your age and which ones you might want to avoid.

All Teen Life Summit sessions are available on demand until August 10. Register and watch at any time. Use code podcast20 for $20 off!

Popular Emojis for Teens:

  • Fire 🔥  (lit)
  • Eyeroll 🙄  (duh)
  • 👁️👄👁️  (it is what it is – similar to ¯\_(ツ)_/¯)
  • ☠️💀  (dead, dying from laughing)
  • 😭  (“crying loudly” – laughing, crying, drama)
  • 🙏  (thank you, or to make a request)
  • 👍  (thumbs up)
Have a question? If you have a question about something you heard or just want to give us some feedback, please leave us a comment below.  We would love to hear from you!
About Us:
Chris Robey

Chris Robey

CEO

Chris has worked with teens from a variety of backgrounds for over a decade. He has a desire to help teenagers make good choices while also giving their families tools to communicate more effectively as choices are made.
Karlie Duke

Karlie Duke

Director of Communications

Karlie was in one of Teen Life’s original support groups and now is passionate about encouraging students to live better stories. She has gained experience working with teenagers through work, volunteer, and personal opportunities.

Follow Us