Validation 

Last week while cleaning up the kitchen pantry, I stumbled upon a few packs of chocolate cookies that had been opened, were half finished, sitting there for over 8 months. I decided to chuck them in the bin. Pari spotted her favourite cookies on the kitchen bench, just as I was about to discard them and insisted I let her eat them. 

I tried my best to explain to her in easy terms what an expiry date meant and why she shouldn’t eat these. I even offered to take her shopping later in the day to buy fresh biscuits. But Pari stayed put. She tried getting the packs from me but I distracted her, sending her to play. Half an hour later having cleaned up the pantry, I retired to working on the computer. 

Around an hour from then, when I went into the kitchen to fetch a water bottle I let out a scream when I saw Pari fishing out the cookie packets from the bin. She saw me, looked straight in my eyes, pulled out a cookie and almost ate it (okay it was 1/10000000 inch close to her lips though not touching it). I thundered, warning her to stop. She dared me and bit on the cookie. I was so mad that I pulled the pack from her hands and gave her a smack on her back.

No prizes for guessing how Pari reacted. I was too angry (mainly because Pari had had a course of antibiotics hardly 12 days ago for a stomach infection) to bother consoling my obviously agitated, disturbed child. When her grandma tried to console her, she brushed her away and went to sleep. She slept in hardly ten minutes and that’s when I got back to my work. 

In the evening, when I tried to talk to her, after initial reluctance, she did warm up a little but all along I could sense her hurt. Pari is a very emotional child who doesn’t shy away from letting her feelings show. Her emotional maturity sometimes matches mine. I was just like her as a child and am quite similar even today. What’s in my heart is always written bold and clear on my face.

A couple of days passed and soon it was weekend. I had made Pari to sit and finish her homework while I supervised our domestic help. Suddenly, Pari refused to do the homework and very angrily blurted “Mumma, I don’t want to do anything what you say. You don’t love me that’s why I won’t talk to you from now.”

The helper waited for me to react, but I didn’t. We continued working and Pari in absence of anymore provocation went quiet. Though in my head a bomb was ticking, I decided to think it out before saying anything. From the corner of my eye I had seen Pari scribbling the notebook dirty where she had been practicing the numbers.

In the hours that followed, my mind was over-working, analysing what had I done wrong to trigger such a reaction in Pari. My mind swung back to the time I had said something similar to my parents. It was when I was going through a bout of depression and when my parents had commented that I was behaving crazy, there was nothing so serious to make me feel the way I had been feeling. This was when I had lost my cool.

What had followed in my case was from then on was I had hidden myself in a shell, choosing to never again share my true feelings with my parents because I knew they would never understand. The bouts of depression reappeared often and I spent many precious years of my life suffering silently.

How could I prevent the same from happening with Pari?

With Validation. 

“Just like children, emotions heal when they are heard and validated.” ~ Jill Bolte Taylor

Validation simply means that you acknowledge your child’s feelings and understand (or make an attempt to understand) where he or she is coming from. It doesn’t have to mean that you like or agree to what they have to say, but be patient enough to hear out their point of view. 

This time, I had ushered Pari to move on but had failed to validate her emotions, that were now gnawing at her innocent self making her throw tantrums like she did this Sunday. 

“Trauma is personal. It does not disappear if it is not validated. When it is ignored or invalidated the silent screams continue internally heard only by the one held captive. When someone enters the pain and hears the screams healing can begin.” ~ Danielle Bernock

What did I do?

I sat Pari up by my side and asked her to tell me what had been disturbing her. I could see tears well up in her eyes and soon they were in mine too. But this was not the moment to be lost crying. She told me how hurt she had felt on the day of the cookie incident. I could have interrupted to repeat to her the same lecture I had given her on food expiry dates or in how unhygienic dust bins are, but I resisted. I wanted her to purge out her pent up hurt and anger.

This time, I was interested in hearing out her part of the story because I already knew my side of it. It turned out that Pari had acted resistant knowing well that she had been caught red-handed because she wanted to show me she won’t let me if anyone for that matter win without a fight.

Thinking from a 4-year-olds perspective, I could now see how strong and brave she had actually been instead of playing obstinate as I had seen then. 

She too could read from my face, my awe-struck, painted in guilt expression that where she came from was beginning to make sense to me. We both ended with tears in our eyes, saying sorry to each other, hugging tightly and determined that from here on we both shall listen to each other before reacting. 

Did this act of validating my child’s feelings work?

I could see the tensed look on Pari’s face ease out immediately. She looked relieved as if a burden had been lifted off her tiny shoulders. She herself sat down to finish her homework and took care to rub off the scratches she had made earlier in the day. All this while, I act busy but in my heart I was feeling that finally I had taken the right turn. This incident has restored Pari’s faith in me that she can walk up to me and share all she pleases and I will listen to her.

What I think helped was my being open, attentive and interactive while Pari poured her heart out to me. I did not even attempt to act wise or in control because it was not about me. It was all about letting her speak, her thoughts to someone in hope that her side of the story is valued, her emotions mean something to me. That she is precious to me. Isn’t this also what I had promised to her when I had said I’d listen to you, always?

Do you practice validation with your child? 

Have you craved for validation in your life at any point? 

* This post is part of the April A to Z Challenge 2016. My theme is Parenting.

Please find my other posts here.

** My laptop died yesterday and has refused to be revived since. With the final 5 days to go for the A to Z challenge, I’ll be trying to post using the WordPress app like today. Please bear with me if I miss out on reading your posts or with errors on mine. 

24 thoughts on “Validation 

  1. This was such a prudent step on your part Era. Kids really need us to hear their end of any story, its just that we are too high-handed and stuck with our sense of rights and wrongs that we never relent or even consider their point of view. Great insight on your part, glad you smoothed things out!
    @KalaRavi16 from
    Relax-N-Rave

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    1. I agree Kala we as parents often assume we know it all without stopping for a second to realize that our kids aren’t our xerox copies. Besides, everyone deserves a chance to put up their case irrespective of their age.
      I’m glad I learnt my lesson in time 🙂

      Like

  2. Sara

    You are such a meticulous and hard working mum. ❤ You inspire me a lot and in so many ways I wish to be like you!
    ” This incident has restored Pari’s faith in me that she can walk up to me and share all she pleases and I will listen to her.”
    This is what I long for when I have a child one day. This strong faith to share anything and everything. ☺

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I honestly felt sad when I read this post. You would have been so hurt to hear something like that from Pari and I am so glad that you decided to talk to her about it. I am sure she has a loving Mom who would do anything for her lil’ angel. Brilliant post!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I was very disturbed around the time all these happened. I would cry whenever I was on my own, would try to purge the pain by writing it down but couldn’t manage beyond 5 to 6 lines. In short, I was pretty miserable and agitated. So glad finally the issue resolved and all the pain I went through taught me a valuable lesson.
      {Hugs}

      Like

  4. I really admire the way you handled the entire situation! I guess in my childhood as well there were situations where I used to get in a similar mode like Pari and would not know how to cool myself down. Probably then if I had one of my parents or someone listening to me then I wouldn’t have few things buried in my mind till date!
    A lovely post, like always ❤
    I have been off the radar for a while! Need to catch up on your previous posts soon! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I have been in your shoes and because I could never share my side of the story on a few crucial situations, I had them stay alive, gnawing, hurting my being through the years of my existence. It is only when my life took an acute turn and I battled depression, that I learnt to be at peace with all my demons.
      Thank you dear Srivi for sharing your personal experience. Every story helps us in growing in one way or the other ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks ME, I think I learnt a valuable lesson here. I practice validation to some extent with Bambi but never really though how important it is to do that. This post has just shown me that. Thanks again.

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  6. That quote about validation is true. There are so many times i have opted to keep my mouth shut and not say anything, just because the situation didn’t seem right, or the issue seemed trivial to me. I really think it becomes important for us to be good listeners in order to aid the process of validation for our near and dear ones and friends. But it should be done in moderation, or else we risk them becoming cry babies! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a valid point there Fabulus.
      But I think the point where we need to exercise moderation never really arrives because we are always not taking enough time to hear others out being driven by our own busyness or assumptions that there is no other side of the story that we must hear out.
      It is one of those virtues, I too am just learning to practice more often in my life as a parent.

      Like

  7. Shilpa Garg

    Listening to your child and understanding things from his perspective is so very important. It helps you to know your child better. As parents, it is so easy for us to quieten them with one look or lecture, but it is important to know what is going on in that lil head of theirs. Thoughtful and thought provoking post!

    Laptop dying on you… Good God! Hope it comes back to life real soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is tough to remember or to be patient enough to hear out what our kids have to say. But the day realization of it strikes, life can only get better.
      The laptop took around 10 days to get back to health but am glad it did work in the end 🙂
      Thank you Shilpa.

      Like

  8. Sounds to me like you handled the situation very well. Kids are very emotional little beings. And their emotions spike up several folds when the disagreement is with a parent, I think, because they feel more comfortable to react, and they expect to get their ways — when they don’t … that’s a problem in their little minds and hearts. But, I think you did the right thing.
    Motherhood … isn’t it glamorous? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Motherhood is leading a life full of ‘drama’ with highs and lows in even the most mundane activities & tears shed for every rhyme or reason of joy or sorrow.
      Thank you Silvia for sharing your experience and thoughts 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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