In this podcast, you’ll learn how to validate feelings, scripts for validating feelings, what not to say, and how you can hold boundaries at the same time.

This means you’ll see exactly how you can be a warmhearted, firm mother. One who is neither demanding nor permissive, but instead one who is compassionate, strong, and connected. 

If you’re a mom, you’re in the right place. This is a space designed to help you overcome challenges and live your best life. I’d love for you to join me inside the Mom On Purpose Membership where we take this work to the next level.

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Welcome to Mom On Purpose, where it’s all about helping moms overcome challenges and live their best lives. My hope is by being here, you are more inspired to become the mom you are made to be. I’m Natalie, your host, a wife, boy, mom, dog, mama, Chicagoan, and former lawyer turned professionally certified coach. If you’re here to grow, I can help. Let’s go.

Hello my beautiful friends. Welcome to today’s podcast on how to validate my kids’ feelings. Today I want to talk with you about what it means to validate feelings. I get this question a lot and there was a specific question that someone wrote into me that I’m going to read you and we’re going to go through it so you really understand how to validate your kids’ feelings, but not just your kids’ feelings. Also your spouse’s feelings, your mother-in-law’s feelings, your friend’s feelings. Any person who is upset, you will now have a better tool to help you validate their experience. It really is a tool I use all of the time and I can’t recommend enough before I dive into the question and the process. It would mean so much to me if you would leave a review on the podcast.Reviews, help the podcast grow and it helps get this message out and spread these tools to more moms. And that is my mission, my friends. So thank you so much in advance. I read all of the reviews and they mean so much to me. Alright, with that, let’s dive in. This person wrote in and said, “Hi Natalie. Thanks for all you do. It has truly been life changing. Here’s my question, I get the concept of validating my kids’ feelings intellectually, but in the moment it just feels so hard. I’m never sure if I’m doing it right or when to use boundaries. Instead, I have four kids and I’d really like to get a better handle on how to validate their feelings. I think it would benefit them and help me as well. I also noticed this is something I could use in other relationships that I think could be really helpful. Please help.” Alright, my friend, I would love to help you with this. I agree that learning how to validate feelings doesn’t just apply to your kids. It is something that you can use in all of your relationships. So let’s dive in and talk about what it means to validate someone’s feelings. And I love how you brought up the contrast between boundaries because we are going to talk about both. But first I want to talk about specifically what it means to validate someone’s feelings. All it means is that you are saying yes, you’re saying yes to their feelings. You are saying, I see you, I get it, I hear you. Even if the action that you’re going to do is to say no.

So if you kid wants something and you’re going to say no to that thing, you can still say yes to their feelings. Saying yes is helpful because it allows you to connect with that person. They feel seen and heard when you validate their feelings. A shorthand way to remember how to validate is to just say what you see. So whatever it is that you see, you say, I see you’re really frustrated right now. I can tell you’re really upset. Tell me more about that. What’s going on for you? People want to feel seen and respected. This is the same for a 2-year-old or a 20-year-old or a 50-year-old. We experience life through our emotions. So seeing someone in their experience really is connecting. You, validate their feelings and they will interpret that as you acknowledging them, you seeing them, you understanding them. Some phrases that I like to use when I’m validating are, yes, I believe you.

Tell me more. I hear you. What is this all about? With validation, there is this openness and this curiosity. So even if you’re doing this for your kids and you’re holding a boundary and the answer is no to something, you can still be really curious about their experience because their experience is coming from their thoughts and their feelings and those are valid. If you do not think someone else’s thoughts and feelings are valid, then you are not respecting them and they will pick up on that. Now again, this does not mean yes. So a very obvious example would be if your child is trying to do something you know, dangerous and you’re going to hold the boundary and say no and they get really upset, it doesn’t mean that you say yes. You’re still going to say no, but you are going to validate that they’re really upset about it. Even if you know logically that if what they did, what they were wanting to do, they would harm themselves or someone else. As you know, especially little kids often tend to do, you are still not making that mean that their experience isn’t real. And I see this all of the time. We think that because we’re actually helping them, that the work of validating their experience isn’t required and it’s simply not true because to your kids, that experience is very real.

So if I don’t know, your child wants to, play with a baseball bat in the house and start swinging it around and you say, I won’t let you do that in the house, and you take the baseball bat away and your child gets really upset, do not try to talk them out of being upset. Their upsetness will get bigger. Do not try to problem solve and say, well you can do this instead, or you can do that instead, get comfortable with their feelings. Say, I hear you, you are so upset. I know you really wanted to play with that baseball bat. I get it. You can use your judgment for which phrases to use when, but I love the shorthand just saying what you’re seeing because that’s their very real experience and at the appropriate time you might transition to a different conversation or to some helpful thoughts for them.

But the biggest mistake I see is parents and just adults in general, even with other adults, it’s trying to fix the feeling right away and that just creates disconnection. The other person doesn’t feel seen and respected and so it doesn’t lead to a good result kind of for either person. So if you start with validation, then the conversation might move to coming up with problem solving. Maybe, maybe not. It doesn’t really matter because feelings are for feeling they are not for fixing. So much of this work is getting comfortable, allowing your kids to feel frustration, allowing your kids to feel discomfort, allowing your kids to feel upset, allowing your kids to feel mad. Now of course this does not mean that all actions are acceptable. I like to say that all feelings are welcome, all actions are not. So the feeling that you are feeling is valid and is welcome any feeling, but there are actions that are acceptable and not acceptable in our home.

So I won’t let you hit, I won’t let you bite, I won’t let you, you know, throw the baseball bat across the room. Whatever it is, you get to decide what actions are permissible and what actions are impermissible in your home. And it actually can be a very productive conversation to have out of the moment with your kids if they’re a little bit older about actions that are permissible and actions that are impermissible and coming up with different actions that they might take for when they’re frustrated and coming up with those ideas together. If you just think of an adult, if an adult knows how to process frustration in a helpful way, in a useful way, that is gold, that is such a helpful skill for them to have. So they’re not needing an escape, so they’re not needing food or alcohol or they’re not hitting a wall or something like that, right?

We, we see adults who don’t know how to handle their emotions. And so helping your kids process their emotions, even though it’s you know, not the most enjoyable experience for you, if you view it as an opportunity for them to learn and grow instead of as a problem you created that you need to fix, it’s life changing because you then see this as part of their experience. Oh yeah, my kids are supposed to have negative emotion and sometimes I’m a contributor to that negative emotion that is so helpful for you to see. Now it doesn’t mean you’re going to deliberately upset your child, but sometimes the boundaries that you will hold will upset your child and that’s okay. Being okay with your child’s human experience creates this sense of respect and safety and comfort at home. If you just think about, you know, maybe your parents or someone in your family who you feel really comfortable around and you can just be yourself around versus someone else in your family who you don’t feel comfortable being around or you have to act a certain way.

That is because of exactly what I’m teaching you right now, when someone just wants you to be the most you to you, you can be, there isn’t this kinda pressure in the room for you to be different. You don’t need to act a certain way for them to be happy. And so it creates such a beautiful dynamic and space and relationship and connection when someone is comfortable with you being your most authentic self. This is why we really have to be careful when we talk about kids being good or bad or easy or hard based on their emotions. So I’ll never forget, I know I’ve talked about this before on airplanes, when I was traveling a ton with my first son and you know, depending on how he was on the plane, I would get different comments and all from really well intended people. No one was, you know, rude or disrespectful or anything like that.

But it was fascinating to see their approval statements or disapproval statements and I really had to coach myself and make sure that I didn’t interpret Robert’s behavior as either being good or bad. So I never say my son was good on a plane or my son was bad on a plane, or my son was difficult on a plane, or my son was easy on a plane. Those words are about my interpretation and why does this matter? Because if I interpret my son being happy as good, then it follows that if he is frustrated or if he is sad or if he is any other negative emotion, that that is bad. And he will pick up on that and then he will think that I need to be happy as a child in order for my mom to see me as good. And then what happens is a lot of suppressing and repressing negative emotions, not being comfortable being our authentic selves, at least with respect to being around that person.

And so I’m constantly working on, you know, reflecting on how my kids behave in terms of their experience. So if it’s on an airplane, I might, instead of saying he was good or bad, he was, you know, any sort of approval statement like that. Instead I’ll say something like, he was really sleepy and cried a lot, or he was really happy and playful and, chatty, like I’ll use words that describe his actions instead of words that describe my judgment of his actions. Do you see the difference there? And so this goes along with validating feelings because you want to make sure that you understand how to create a space where your kids feel comfortable being authentic and the way they feel comfortable being authentic is having parents and having a home that allows them space to feel all the emotions that we feel as human beings, not just the positive ones.

So when you’re feeling really stressed, it’s, oh my gosh, I can tell you are really stressed about tryouts. Tell me about that. What are you thinking? What’s going on for you? Ask questions. Validation is open-ended. Now after the conversation goes and you’re, you know, really feeling like you’ve shown respect to your child and their experience, then you might offer a story about your experience or some other thoughts for them to try on. Again, the biggest mistake that I see is child’s really stressed about tryouts and you know, parent jumps in and says, oh my gosh, you shouldn’t, shouldn’t be stressed. What about trying this? And they try to fix the feeling. And that is where a disconnection is created because the child thinks, no, you don’t understand mom for whatever reason, it doesn’t matter what the reason is. What they’re saying is you’re not really seeing my experience.

So you just start with validation. The same is true with adults. Your spouse might come home from work and say how frustrated he is about his boss. Validation is not, well, why don’t you talk to him about this? Or why don’t you try X, y, Z? Or have you thought about this? That is not validation. Validation is, uh, yes, that sounds really frustrating. Tell me more. I’ve coached a lot of women on this with respect to their kids, but also with their marriages. And it just seems to be harder with respect to marriages or adults because we have the same sort of cognitive function. And so it’s harder to rationalize what might be going on for the other person if we disagree. So I remember coaching a client years ago and she was struggling with this with her spouse who was feeling a lot of stress about work.

And for her she just couldn’t relate to it because coming up with a solution seemed pretty easy to her. And so her brain just wanted to offer her husband solutions and this was not helpful for their marriage. And so I said, instead of trying to relate to the actual challenge, to the boss to work, relate to the feeling. So there have been times for sure, this is what I was telling my client where you have been stressed. And she said, of course. So I said, relate to the stress. We can all relate to feelings. We might not understand kind of the the storyline that this person is telling us. We might not agree, we might not see it as that big of a problem. And yet we can relate to that feeling. A lot of times out of the moment when it’s not our own challenge, it seems so much easier to fix. And yet our friends and our family and our kids are not coming to us to fix our problems.

Now sometimes they are, but it is rare. It’s rare that someone says, Hey, I’m having this challenge and I’d like help coming up with a few solutions. Do you think you could talk with me through these ideas? Could that happen? Does it happen from time to time? Yes. But most of the time that’s not what we’re presented with. We’re presented with someone in our lives telling us how upset they are about something and all they want there is for you to say, I get it. And what you’re getting is maybe not what’s happening for them, especially if you haven’t gone through it or it’s just something that logically you don’t understand. You still can get the feeling. So if they’re feeling really anxious about giving a talk, maybe you don’t give talks and you never would. You can still relate to feeling anxious. As human beings, we can have so much more connection with other people if we relate to them through their feelings.

So if my sons want some candy before dinner and I say, no, I can’t let you have any candy, I can still acknowledge their frustration. I know you’re upset, I know you’re feeling frustrated. I know you really wanted that candy and mommy won’t let you have that candy right now. That is both validating the feeling, saying yes to the feeling. I get it, I hear you, I see you, you’re upset. I want you to feel however you want to feel. And this is the boundary that I’m holding as mom. I don’t say that, right? I just say, I can’t let you have candy right now. So when you’re kind of equipped with these tools of validation plus holding boundaries, I think it’s like the secret sauce to parenting. Because instead of going to permissive parenting on one end of the spectrum where it’s just yes to all of the actions or conversely going to the other end of the spectrum where it’s no to everything, instead of being the super strict parent or the completely permissive parent, you’re in the middle where you are nurturing and warm and loving and connected and respectful and you’re still the leader, you’re still in charge.

This is not a democracy and you don’t want it to be. Now just like at a really good company where you have an amazing boss, your boss isn’t going to take advantage of that. Your boss is going to respect you and want to hear your input and going to consider that input very seriously. And also your boss is still the boss. And what she says goes, I use this all of the time as an example, inside the Mom On Purpose membership. Because even if you’ve never worked in an office job or any other job in that capacity, I think we can all relate to the example of there’s a team environment and there are levels of superiors who are in charge. There’re bosses, there is leadership. The same is true in your home. So if you think about you and or if you’re married and your spouse, you and your spouse, you’re the leaders, you’re not going to take advantage of that.

You’re not going to belittle your team members, you’re not going to disrespect them, you’re not going to ignore their requests, you’re going to consider all of it. And ultimately you still make the final decision. And so for me personally, I can just think of the variety of different bosses that I’ve had in my life and how each of them was in charge and each of them carried that authority so differently. And I can pick up on different ways that I want to be like, I want to be the respectful leader who is warmhearted and connected and really listens and who still is leading, who isn’t permissive, who still is the one in charge. And so if you kind of think of that combination for yourself as a mom, it can be so helpful. So you’re not kind of teetering on either end of that spectrum either. It’s a yes to everything.

So if it’s a yes to the feelings, that means it’s a yes to the actions or it’s a no to everything. If it’s a no to the actions, that means you shouldn’t feel that way. Instead, it’s a yes to the feelings and sometimes it’s a no for whatever they’re wanting to do. And living in the space of allowing your kids to feel discomfort is something that gets a lot easier. It’s not that you’re never going to care, you want to care and yet you can care without needing your kids to feel a certain way for you to feel like you’re a good enough mom. It’s not fair to them and it’s not fair to you. You are doing an amazing job. There are so many different ways to be an amazing mom, and you are an amazing mom and you don’t need your kids’ validation for that.

And when you let go of that, and when you allow them space to feel how they want to feel and you’re present with them and connected with them and you open up to those feelings for them, then you create such a safe, warm, connected, respectful, loving environment in your home. Inside the Mom On Purpose membership, we have a Motherhood Toolkit with classes on How to Stop Yelling,, How to Hold b]Boundaries, How to Validate Feelings. All of the examples come up in coaching in Ask A Coach in our written forum as well as on our group coaching calls. So if you’re looking for more on this, definitely join us inside the membership. One last thing that I want to mention is to use this episode, use this podcast for another tool in your tool belt. Don’t use the tool against yourself. And what I mean by that is don’t now expect other people to do this for you.

It’s useful if you use the tool for yourself so that you can validate other people’s feelings so that you can show up as the mom you want to be, so that you are the wife you want to be. When you know how to validate feelings, you have this skill and that is amazing. What can happen though is turning it around and now expecting other people to do that for you and it just doesn’t work. There are a lot of people in the world who aren’t exposed to this work, and even if they are exposed to it, they’re just not interested in it. And so they will not have these tools in their tool belt. IE. They are not going to validate your feelings, and it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. It doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with them, it’s just that they’re not going to be the ones to do the work for you.

So what I also encourage you to do is to learn how to validate your own feelings. So if let’s say that you weren’t invited to dinner with a group of girls who are kind of neighborhood friends and you kind of wish you were and you were talking to one other girlfriend maybe who doesn’t live in your neighborhood, maybe she lives out of state and you were venting about it and she gave you lots of ideas like you know, asking to be invited or to host your own dinner and she just wasn’t acknowledging that you kind of feel felt left out and it was kind of a bummer. What you really wanted her to say was, Ugh, I’m so sorry that really sucks. And she wasn’t saying any of that. What you can do is just notice that, that you’re looking for that validation and give it to yourself.

So I do this all of the time. If I’m feeling upset about something and I just find that I’m not getting the validation from others that I’m looking for, I just write about it and I write down how I want to be validated. So in this example, you could write down, gosh, it really stinks. I wasn’t invited to dinner with this group of girls. That is a bummer and it’s kind of their loss. I really wish I was invited and it’s okay that I wasn’t. And you’re, you’re seeing yourself where you are and it really will work to validate yourself. It definitely works better than wanting that from someone else and not getting it and then being frustrated that you didn’t get it from them. So use this tool and all of these tools in your own tool belt so that you have increased skills in different areas, but don’t use them against yourself thinking that other people should be doing the work.

It’s just kind of a recipe for more disconnection in your relationships. And with that, I hope you have an amazing rest of the week and June. And if you have a question for me, call the podcast hotline. Leave me a message. It’s 8 3 3 3. Ask Nat. That’s 8 3 3 3 2 7 5 6 2 8. I love doing this work with you, my friend. I cannot imagine my life without it. I am so glad and grateful that you are here. Take care.

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