When we invalidate children’s feelings and experiences by minimizing, discrediting, accusing, or rushing them, we teach them to respond to their own feelings—and the feelings of others—the same way. We create in them an inner voice that will continue to discredit both themselves (“it’s not that bad, I shouldn’t feel so sad”) and others (it’s not that bad, YOU shouldn’t feel so sad).
Instead of minimizing (“Stop crying, it wasn’t that big a deal”), try connecting (“it sounds like you’re feeling really sad. I’m here with you.”)
Instead of discrediting (“I know you’re angry, but you have to stay calm”) try validating (“I hear that you’re too upset to be calm right now. Do you want space or would you like to talk about it?”)
️Instead of accusing (“Your teacher wouldn’t send you to the principal for no reason, you must have been goofing off.”), try empathizing (“To you, what happened at school felt really unfair. I’m listening.”)
Instead of rushing (“I don’t want to hear it anymore.”) try empathizing (“Wow, it sounds like this is really hard for you. Would you like me to hold you?”)