They don’t need money, presents, devices, or any other THING. They just need us to spend time with them. Just us and the kid – no one else.
And when we are with them –only them– they don’t need a lecture or a lesson. They need a big heart and an open ear. Just listen to them unload their lives onto us and show them that we understand by saying the simplest things like, “that sounds fun” or “I bet that was frustrating!“
This is called Validation. It is a game-changer and I wish I learned it 16 years before I did. When you validate a person you are telling them that their feelings matter and that those feelings came with reason. So many times my kids have said, “I should not feel <this way>,” when it was perfectly logical to feel exactly that way.
There is a trick though. You validate how the person is feeling, not the action(s) that go with it. Because, when our kids screw up we don’t want to validate the mistake they made. Instead, we want to validate how they feel, which may be embarrassment or guilt. Yea, you ought to feel like that right now, it’s normal and I am here with you guide you through it.
Something that goes along with this is Judgement, and it is a sneaky bastard, too. When we make judgements we are making value statements. Something has more value than another thing. This is obviously true, but when dealing with people, if you can remove judgements, you can leap forward so much faster. Instead of saying something was good or bad, right or wrong, use facts.
Your child rolls her eyes at you. “You don’t care, do you!?”
Your child rolls her eyes at you. “It looks like you just rolled your eyes at me; are you frustrated with me?“
The first statement judges the child’s action and implies their feeling/intent. It pushes them away. The second statement points out what you saw and demonstrates that you see their frustration, then asks for confirmation. It draws them in.
Your child will screw up, and so will you. Do you want to be judged for it every time, or do you want someone you can talk to about it? If you’re the one that your kid can talk to, then they will.
Our kids need us to spend time with them where we just listen to them talk. We validate how they feel, not their actions. We don’t judge them, their ideas, or their actions. This will open them up to spending more time with us where they talk more to us, and we bond so tightly that nothing can get between us.