by Karyn D. Hall Ph.D., Melissa H. Cook LPC.
The Power of Validation breaks validation skills into practical steps parents can use to respond to their child's internal experiences in healthy ways without necessarily condoning their child's behaviors.
Validation is the recognition and acceptance that a person's feelings and thoughts are true and real for him or her, regardless of whether or not those feelings make logical sense. This seemingly simple concept can determine whether a child has self-esteem or not, whether a child will grow to become an independent adult or a dependent one, and whether a child will be able to process feelings in a healthy way or express his or her emotions by throwing tantrums and acting out. Children who are validated feel reassured that they will be accepted and loved regardless of their feelings, while children who are validated less frequently become more susceptible to peer pressure and are more likely to develop behavioral problems.
The Power of Validation breaks validation skills into practical steps parents can use to respond to their child's internal experiences in healthy ways without necessarily condoning their child's behaviors. Readers learn to pay attention to their child, acknowledge the child's thoughts and feelings, and help their child through the process of developing an identity of his or her own. By validating difficult emotions, but disallowing negative actions children may take in response to these emotions, parents can help their kids develop essential self-validating skills for the future that will foster self-esteem and emotional intelligence in adulthood.
168 pgs / 6" x 9" paperback
1. Understanding Validation
2. The Importance of Validation
3. Applying Validating Parenting
4. Why Parents Invalidate
5. Ways Parents Invalidate
6. Validating Parenting in Depth
7. How to Apply the Levels of Validation to Validating Parenting
8. Dealing with Roadblocks to Your Success
Because we are passionate about teaching validation and feel strongly about sharing information about it with parents, it is a calling for us, as therapists. We wholeheartedly believe that validation is one of the most important things you, as a parent or caregiver, can give your child to help him thrive and become a fully functioning adult. This book will teach you how to validate.
Validation is important for helping children develop autonomy and a secure sense of self, and it may help prevent emotional problems or even emotional disorders. Knowing how to validate your children will improve your relationships with them, because feeling heard and understood strengthens the bond and attachment they feel toward you. Validation also improves the relationships children eventually form in their adult lives. A validated child is one who feels confident that she can express who she is and how she feels to her parents with complete acceptance without fear of judgment. Imagine the freedom in that.
We believe that validation is key to children’s success and development. We believe that invalidating children can lead to serious emotional issues. It will also teach your child to be comfortable with his own emotions. Imagine the child who comes to you upset that his two front teeth stick out in a way that makes him look and feel awkward. Although it’s hard to hear that your child is unhappy, telling him that he has no reason to be upset about his teeth is an example of invalidation. Parents often do this because they don’t want their child to be upset. Accepting the way your child feels about his teeth is validation. It sounds easy, but it’s not. After reading this book, you will gain insight into how to implement a validating strategy into your parenting style.
Validation: A Simple but Powerful Idea
On the surface, validation is a simple concept. The idea just doesn’t sound complicated or new enough to make a difference in the very difficult task of parenting. But sometimes the most powerful ideas are the simplest ones. Take, for instance, washing your hands to stop the spread of germs. How simple is that? Robert Fulghum (2004) wrote that much of the information we need in life is taught in kindergarten, such as to clean up our own messes, share everything, and avoid taking what isn’t ours. The wisdom in these simple ideas serves all ages and is relevant in the most complex situations. That’s how it is with validation.
Validation is a powerful concept. Researchers believe that life experiences, especially experiences with other people, affect the way the developing brain functions (Siegel 1999). For this reason and because validation improves relationships, using validation effectively and consistently will enhance your child’s developing brain. In addition, experts on the psychology of happiness have found that relationships with others are one of the keys to happiness (Seligman 2002), so the tendency of validation to enhance relationships will contribute to your child’s overall happiness. Because validation helps your child build a secure sense of self, it arms your child against bullies, peer pressure, the need for girls to focus on appearance to attract boys, and the risk of failure. Validation can be one of the best gifts you give your child.
That’s a huge payoff for using such a simple skill. What’s the catch? Although a simple concept to understand, validation is more difficult to practice, especially under stress. Reading this book will give you an intellectual understanding of validation, but to get the most out of this book, it’s important to practice. Most skills require practice, whether this means playing an instrument, speaking a foreign language, cooking, or dancing. While you might be tempted to skip the exercises in this book, doing so could limit the benefits you gain as a parent. For validation to work and for your child to benefit, practice is essential.
Who Could Benefit from This Book
Validation is a skill that can enhance all interpersonal exchanges. Our focus is on parents of young children, aged four to twelve. We chose this age group because of the importance of validation to emotional development during those years. This book could also be helpful for parents of children with a problem such as anxiety disorder or depression. Learning to implement validation while parenting children with special needs could be particularly useful.
This book also could be useful to adults who do not know how to validate themselves or to parents of adult children who have difficulty managing their emotions.
Why We Wrote This Book
We wrote this book out of sheer passion, desire, and a calling to spread the word of validation, a concept that has come to mean far more to us now than we ever thought possible. We hope that as you read this book, you will grow to appreciate this concept as as much as we do.
Some might ask, “Why another parenting book?” Surely, with the number of books on the shelves, there’s little else to add to the field, right? We disagree. This is the best parenting tool you can use: the simplest, the least expensive, and the one that will cultivate the most peace in your home!
For over thirty years, Karyn has worked with children, teens, and adults who suffer the agony of being indecisive; disliking themselves; and feeling left out, not good enough, and unsure of their identities. She has also worked with countless people suffering from depression and anxiety disorders to the extent that they couldn’t leave their homes or were suicidal. Karyn has sat with parents of teens and adult children who had committed suicide and has listened to the frustrations of youth with eating disorders who wanted to live their lives but couldn’t stop bingeing, purging, or restricting food. Hoping to make a difference, Karyn is convinced that people’s quality of life is connected to the quality of their relationships.
Besides having experienced the power of validation in her work as a therapist trained in dialectical behavior therapy, Karyn has used validation effectively in her personal life. For Karyn, teaching the concept of validation is a way to help children grow into emotionally healthy adults and to help them develop the skills and characteristics necessary to build satisfactory relationships. Most disorders are seen as a combination of biology and environment, and although we cannot change biology, we can improve a child’s environment. Validation is a powerful way to do that.
Melissa’s perspective comes from being both a therapist and a mother of three. She has trained in validation skills for approximately six years. Most of her clients struggle with emotional disorders, such as anorexia, bulimia, self-harm, and depression. When she saw her clients and their parents become successful in their relationships just by using validation, she realized that these skills would serve as a great parenting tool for all children. With this knowledge, she started applying validation to parenting her own children. She started to see that validating her children’s feelings elicited entirely new responses. Just having their feelings validated helped them feel heard, understood, closer to her, and more willing to respond to redirection or discipline, if necessary. Her husband joined her in applying validation when he realized how effective it was.
Through her training in dialectical behavior therapy, Melissa also learned that validation could be just the skill to apply to parenting to foster emotionally healthy adults, which in turn may prevent eating disorders and other emotional disorders that are often exacerbated by a child’s environment. One of her parenting goals became to attempt to raise a validated child with a strong sense of self and a strong sense of internal validation. As an adolescent, Melissa developed anorexia and was hopeful that she could prevent this mental illness from negatively affecting her own children. She became so ill from her disease that she almost died. It was at that point that she sought therapy to try to regain the sense of self she had lost in her illness. Her own experience with anorexia, and her desire to prevent it in others, is part of why she was called to create a forum for teaching parents to recognize what an impact validation can have on a child’s upbringing.
Melissa is the first to admit that parenting is an incredibly difficult job. No one gives you a manual, and each child is different. Parenting is an even more challenging job when your child has intense emotions that are difficult to deal with. It is through teaching validation to her clients and her family, and in many other forums, that Melissa sees its power. She is confident that as you read further, you will respond positively to the simplicity and effectiveness of validation.
We wrote this parenting book because we believe in the power of validation, and we believe that reading this book will give you some insight into what it’s like to raise a validated child.
Points to Ponder
You can expect to learn more and more about validation as you read on and complete the exercises. We believe you will gain a better understanding of the concept of validation and why it is so important. You can also expect to develop a more connected relationship with your child, which in turn will help your child feel more conne cted with you. You and your family will be healthier emotionally. If you practice validation, you will experience its power for yourself, just as we have.
Get your notebook ready. Intellectually understanding an idea is very different from applying it. You can read about how to build a Web page or make a soufflé, but actually doing it is quite different. True learning involves applying the ideas you have read. We’ve included many exercises in this book to give you an opportunity to apply the concepts you are learning. We urge you to complete the exercises even if you find them mundane or are tempted to skip them. Think through the advantages to doing the exercises: you will gain a better understanding of what you read, be more likely to remember the ideas discussed, develop validation skills in steps, and be more likely to apply them. You may have other reasons why completing the exercises would be helpful to you. We encourage you to make a commitment now to complete each exercise as you come to it rather than merely read the book straight through.
“The Power of Validation is an immensely valuable book about helping our children feel worthy and valued. It is written with a compassionate conviction, backed by empirical evidence, and illustrated with vivid anecdotes. The wisdom of these words touches us not only as parents, but as humans longing to be validated for who we are. What greater gift could we possibly give our children than to lovingly recognize, accept, and validate their lives?”
—Brent LoCaste-Wilken, LCSW, CEAP, adjunct professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work
“Validation is the number-one skill in improving relationships with children of all ages, partners, family members, and even colleagues in the workplace. The Power of Validation by Karyn D. Hall and Melissa H. Cook details how and why each of us should master this powerful skill. This is a must-read book for parents and teachers of young children, and most definitely a refreshing and creative reading experience for all who value rewarding relationships!”
—Jim and Diane Hall, family educators for the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder
“The Power of Validation is a veritable roadmap for parents. The destination charted on this roadmap is the creation of a child who has healthy self-esteem and can face the slings and arrows of daily life with confidence and resilience. Parents and those who are anticipating the challenges of parenthood will richly benefit from spending some time with this superb new book.”
—Glen O. Gabbard, MD, The Gabbard Center in Houston, TX
“Never before has a book about parenting tackled the seemingly simple topic of validation. In this groundbreaking guide, the authors reveal the amazing power of validation in the development of a strong and healthy child. As we learn how validation galvanizes identity and bolsters self-esteem, we also learn about the wreckage of invalidating environments—a delicate subject compassionately addressed by the authors at every turn. In short, a must-read for every parent, a treasure for anyone wanting to boost their emotional intelligence, and a string of pearls for mental health clinicians of every stripe.”
—Kimberly A. Arlinghaus, MD, associate professor of psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX
“The Power of Validation is a welcome addition to the field. It takes the construct of validation to a practical level, providing exercises that help readers go beyond the written word. The audience for the book should include parents as well as mental health professionals, given its important focus and user-friendly approach.”
—Perry D. Hoffman, PhD, president of the National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder
“In The Power of Validation, Karyn D. Hall and Melissa H. Cook provide a roadmap for building the right emotional foundation for your child’s life success. Recognizing and accepting your child’s feelings is an easy addition to your parenting skill set as well as an elegantly simple and powerful antidote to the pressure of figuring out how to raise competent, successful children.”
—Kay M. Albrecht, PhD, early childhood teacher educator at Innovations in Early Childhood Education, Inc., in Houston, TX
“As a pediatrician and mother, I have read hundreds of parenting books, but this one boils it all down into one easy concept. I have found this book to be an invaluable parenting tool in my own home as well as in my practice. If you’ve grappled with issues such as bullying and peer pressure, this book provides a tried and true solution that will bring harmony to your relationship with your children and give you a sense of competence in your role as a parent. The authors’ down-to-earth writing style makes the hugely powerful concept of validation relevant and effective for all parents. It is truly a fresh perspective on parenting.”
—Pamela R. Carmain, MD, FAAP, clinical associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX
“Validation makes us feel like we matter. It makes us feel like our feelings are not wrong. With validation, we have a stronger and closer bond with our parents.”
—Stuart, age 15, David, age 13, and Caroline, age 11
“The Power of Validation is a welcome resource for any parent, teacher, or clinician who wants to optimize their effectiveness in contributing to any young person’s emotional development. Hall and Cook have written an easy-to-read, compassionate book that describes the importance, process, and challenges of validation with clear instructions, examples, and practice exercises that can teach and hold the interest of a family member or professional at any level of education or experience. We will definitely refer both family members and colleagues to this book as a tool for teaching the power of validation to promote emotional stability, self-esteem, and effective collaboration in any young person.”
—Lois W. Choi-Kain, MD, clinical instructor in psychiatry and director of the Gunderson Residence of McLean Hospital
“The Power of Validation is a must-read, no matter how old your child may be. What an eye-opening experience it is to practice validation on a regular basis. The struggles and conflicts disappear and compassion and love emerge. It’s a win-win for parent and child and helps parents build a stronger, healthier relationship with their children. I wish I had these tools when my kids were toddlers, but it’s never too late to start. Even my seventeen-year-old daughter is much more willing to communicate and share her feelings the more I practice validating her. Thank you for writing this book and empowering me to make a change in the way I listen and respond to my kids.”
—Michelle Fredricks, mother of two in Houston, TX
“Quite simply, this is one of the most powerful and effective parenting books I own. It is an invaluable tool for raising emotionally balanced kids.”
—Kristine J. Madorsky, MEd, LPC, teacher and elementary school counselor in Houston, TX
“Validating our children does not always come naturally, but is a true gift that we can learn to give to the people we love. I have witnessed immediate healing results when I use this concept with my children, my husband, and in my other relationships.”
—Jennifer A. Kearns, MEd, parent and teacher
“Wow—it truly works! If you are like me, an exhausted, busy parent, you are constantly looking for ways to help your family that don’t take too much time. This book gently reminds the reader why it is so important that our children feel validated to ensure they are emotionally stable and self-reliant. The best recommendation comes from my children, who now share that they feel more confident in their ability to make decisions.”
—Jana Ames, managing director of an international consulting company and mother of twins
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