Psychologists in Littleton Validate Feelings All Day—You Can Too!

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Good listening skills

When you visit a child psychologist in Littleton for your first intake appointment, you can plan to do a lot of talking. In fact, when adults think about therapy, talking is usually the first thing on their mind. But, while clients talk, the psychologist is doing the work of listening, understanding, and validating feelings. Listening sounds like an easy task, but there’s a reason adults and kids come to see mental health specialists to listen to them. Keep reading to see how you can listen, engage, and validate like the professionals!

These Active Listening Skills Help You Hear What’s Really Being Said

Your child communicates with you all day—when they’re talking, screaming, or even just sitting there quietly. The question is, are you listening to that communication? We can expect to be “listening” when someone speaks, but what about other ways that kids communicate? Your child is not only using his words, but his tone of voice, volume level, and body language to communicate with you. Show that you are listening in the same way: match your tone and volume (or direct it to an appropriate level), maintain appropriate eye contact, and turn your body toward your child. You don’t need to “mimic” motions, but moving or sitting similarly as your child can help you connect—and yes, that may mean taking a seat on the floor. Listen closely—this is not the time to be checking a phone or finishing up some household chores.

Child Psychologists Communicate Understanding Through Feelings Validation

People of all ages want to be heard and understood. When we feel like we are not being heard, we “turn it up.” That could be a louder or more stern tone or could include other actions such as moving our bodies, making threats or demands, or expressing different feelings. If you’ve ever felt so angry that you cried, ever gotten so frustrated that you yelled, or ever resorted to statements like “If you do that one more time, I’ll…” you know how it feels to have to “turn up” the feelings louder. Therapists in Littleton recognize that nobody likes to have uncomfortable feelings, but they are a part of everyone’s life. You can’t “get rid of” a feeling, and if you or your child is trying to accomplish this goal, you may just end up feeling worse. When you work with a therapist, those feelings are accepted and validated. We help adults and children learn to tolerate these unpleasant feelings, understand their role in helping us recognize when something is causing a problem, and explore tools to solve the problem.

Try These Tools to Validate Feelings with Your Child

How can you validate feelings with your child at home? First off, start by listening actively and attentively. You don’t need to agree, but you need to truly understand what your child needs to say. Then, reflect it back to them—if you’re wrong, they’ll let you know. Stating a problem in a simple, neutral, and non-judgmental manner is a great place to start. “You’re really sad that you can’t play with your friend today” sends a very different message than “What are you crying for? Your friend can play another day!” Trying to quash those feelings just makes them worse—because with everything else a child can’t control, it’s frustrating to not even be able to “control” emotions. During the big feelings, don’t move to a solution immediately—just let the feelings happen. Once your child is calmer, then you can tackle the solution—“Now that you’ve cried out all that sadness, your eyes aren’t so full of tears and you can see the calendar. Let’s find the next time when you can play with your friend.” Even when problems seem “tiny” to you, remember: you’re a big, strong, capable adult who has lived through decades of challenges. That “tiny” problem may seem “GIGANTIC” in the moment. When you help them conquer these problems, you are setting them up for success in the future.

Listening to and validating feelings is a challenge for anyone—that’s why the best child psychologists in Littleton spend years learning and practicing our trade. For professional help with active listening, emotional validation, and coping with big feelings, find a psychologist in Littleton.