Deep down, most of us harbour a yearning to be seen and acknowledged, even if we aren’t always willing to admit it. Just consider the sheer joy and relief that phrases like “I love you” or “Well done” can offer. They don’t merely lift our spirits; they validate us, potentially strengthening our self-esteem, boosting our confidence, and motivating us toward greater achievements.
The importance of validation
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, to “validate” means to officially recognise or affirm the value of something, particularly after careful evaluation. This act is more than just a social nicety; it’s a crucial element in personal development. Lack of validation and affection at a young age may contribute to various societal problems we encounter today.
The science behind emotional well-being
A 2018 study focused on the causes of self-harm and suicide among individuals between ages 10–34 in the US. The research found that those lacking early emotional support tend to struggle with emotional regulation. These individuals often resort to harmful behavior as an attempt to gain serious attention.
The community’s role
The responsibility for a child’s well-being extends beyond their parents. Although society has become more isolated, we must not lose sight of the needs of those around us, particularly children who require love and guidance.
Creating safe spaces
Many young people battle with low self-esteem and fear of judgment. By creating an environment where they feel safe to express themselves, we can foster trust and encourage them to share their concerns openly.
How to validate children for healthier adulthood
- Be approachable. Your demeanour should communicate care and openness.
- Listen actively. Ensure children feel heard and respected, rather than dismissed.
- Use affirmative language: Phrases like “I understand” or “It’s OK” can offer comfort.
- Adopt a soothing tone. A calm and soft voice can help keep the conversation open and non-confrontational.
- Express affection. Physical affection and words of love can offer long-term emotional benefits.
- Be empathic. Strive to understand situations from their point of view.
- Invest time. Genuine interest in their lives will strengthen your relationship and foster open communication.
Children who experience validation grow into adults with strong self-esteem and emotional intelligence. They are more likely to form healthy relationships and contribute positively to society.
The underlying framework
While physiological needs like food and water are essential, emotional and psychological needs serve as the guiding force in human life, as depicted in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Without these, an individual may struggle to become a balanced person.
As the saying goes, “Little drops of water make a mighty ocean.” Small gestures often lead to monumental impacts. Never underestimate the ripple effect of your actions; they have the potential to transform lives.
Adanma Ruth Okebugwu is passionate about informing, educating, and inspiring others through her writing. She specialises in health and personal development topics. Adanma holds a degree in Human Kinetics from the University of Ibadan.