More Peaceful Parenting Step 3. Validate.


We are three weeks into striving to become more peaceful parents. I look forward to hearing your reflections on how steps 1 and 2 are working for you and if you are making an effort to apply them (even occasionally) to your family. I mapped out the complete ten-step series today and discovered that I struggled to limit it to just ten points on this journey! I could keep going and going. Such beautiful ideas with so much potential for transforming our families and therefore our world. I could talk about this subject forever.

For those of you ready for a second book recommendation, I suggest you pick up a copy of Respectful Parents Respectful Kids. A wonderful book that address the needs of every member of your family (yes, including you), and touches on the parenting mission statement idea I talked about here.

Now, onto step 3!

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How was last week, parenting-wise? Did you work on identifying the need in your child's more challenging moments? Did it shift anything for you to look beyond the expression – deeper into your child – to strive to see what was really going on? If not, you can always start today. There's no need to feel like you're behind and can't jump in now. Today is always the best day to start something new.

So you've identified the need (or made an effort to anyway). Now what?


Validation is the next step after attempting to identify the need. Validation might just be my favorite parenting tool. It's one of them anyway. Because in my family validation has a magical, transformative effect.

The first time I consciously used it it (after reading this book) I got the need wrong, but much to my amazement the validation still worked. And better than I ever dreamed.

Then five, Sage had just said goodbye to a new friend who had come over to play. It was evening, and Pete was brushing Sage's hair, getting him ready for bed. (Sage was always hard to brush. He's very sensitive to pain and his long, snarly hair plus his sensitivity was a perpetual challenge. Lots of crying during brushing. For years.)

This time Sage was angrily kicking Pete in the shins while he brushed. (He rarely lashed out physically, so clearly something big was going on.) I had been reading about more peaceful and effective parenting styles and decided to try out what I was learning. Instead of our usual, "Don't kick your papa!" I looked for the need. (Sage hated to have Pete in particular brush his hair because he tends to be a little too rough with the tangles.)

I said, "It hurts to have Papa brush your hair and you are angry he isn't being more gentle." He immediately stopped kicking Pete and looked in my eyes. With a sad, teary face he said, "No. I'm sad that my friend had to go home." 


Unlike most adults in an emotional crisis, my five-year old was able to go within himself, and with the help of a little validation (validation that missed the mark, but validation none-the-less) find the true need behind his behavior. He immediately stopped kicking Pete and had a hearty cry. And then he was done. That was it. I was floored.

Not bad for a first effort at connection-based peaceful parenting.

In that moment I promised myself and my children to stop parenting behavior first and instead look for and validate the need. Heck, that moment told me I didn't even have to be right for it to work. He just needed to know that I cared enough to ask. How affirming!


 What Validation Provides

When you validate your child's unspoken feelings, you deliver some powerful messages that we all could benefit from hearing. You tell them that their feelings are valid. All one of them. That it is okay to be angry. Or afraid. Or sad. Or lonely. Or frustrated. Or fill-in-the-blank-here.

Because in truth, all feeling are valid. It's how we express those feelings that we're working on. And by validating our child's feeling, we validate our child. We say to them: you can be angry and I still love and respect you. What a beautiful message that is. 

And when we know our feeling are okay we also get the message that we don't need to bury them or lash out instead of sharing how we really feel. We know we're understood. 

Validation is free of judgement and full of empathy. Often a child acts out because they don't know how to express their feelings any other way. When we validate we provide for them a voice in the moment as well as a lesson for learning to express appropriately in the future.

And Then What?

What happens after you validate? You approve the feelings that are bottled up inside. You give your child a green-light to express what they are holding.

And it isn't always graceful.

There might be tears. Or angry voices. Or a big healing melt-down. "Oh! I'm not up for that," you say. But really, the emotions are going to come out one way or another. Providing a safe channel is one of our important jobs as a parent. In my opinion a big, long sob in loving arms (or aggressively beating the tar our of a couch cushion) is preferable to both A) a full-blown tantrum or B) learning to bottle up your feelings. Let the feelings flow. After they release those buried emotions you'll see a clarity in your child's eyes that may have been missing for a long time.

And the more you practice connection-based parenting, the fewer (and shorter) of these post-validation meltdowns you'll experience. Because there won't be a backlog of feelings waiting to come out. Your child will be clear and connected with their own emotions. And if you validate, for example, that your child feels afraid when they see a big dog it won't bring forth the expression of so many other buried fears that they've been waiting for an opportunity to express.

It's Not Okay. (And that's okay.)

I also encourage you to strive to remove the phrase "It's okay." from your parenting vocabulary. I know. It's such a knee-jerk phrase for so many of us when our child starts to come unraveled. It often comes out of our mouths without us even realizing it. And it seems oftentimes that those two simple words can abort an impending parenting disaster (temporarily anyway). But in truth, those feelings need to come out. And they will, one way or another.

Because for your child it isn't okay. And acknowledging that truth is one of the core components of validation. If they are crying or screaming or melting down, everything is not okay in their world. If you feel yourself compelled to convince them otherwise take a deep breath and try gentle validation instead.

Know when to fix it and when to let it be.

And one more though. Your job as parent is not always to fix it. Sometimes we're sad. Angry. Frustrated. And we don't need anyone to make it instantly better. Yes, more peaceful parenting means allowing your child the full expression of their feelings through words, tears, and other non-violent means. Rather than trying to quickly fix what isn't working, we allow our child to feel what they feel and let it all out.

For example, your child has a treat and drops it in the dirt. One common response might be, "Oh! You dropped your sucker. It's okay. Don't cry! I'll get you another one!" A different response (where the parent is validating but not trying to fix what is broken) could be, "Oh, honey. You dropped your sucker and now it's dirty. You feel sad that you can't enjoy your special treat. That is so disappointing." And then they sob, and we hold them in our arms and quietly comfort them simply with our presence.

Because in this life we will sometimes drop our sucker in the dirt (lose a job, be betrayed by a loved one, get a speeding ticket, break our favorite coffee cup) and no one will be able to fix it. I think we're wise as parents to stop fixing what is broken so quickly and allow our children to simply feel what they feel before we scramble to make it right.

If you are fixing it to avoid the uncomfortable feelings (or the uncomfortable expression of feelings), pause. Let them feel. If you are helping them find a solution in order to feel safe and know that their needs are being met, carry on.

Here are some examples of the latter:

A child sees his little sister toddling towards his block castle. He hurries toward her, arms waving, yelling, and blocking her from crossing the room.

"It's okay! She won't break it!" isn't going to make him feel more comfortable. And "It's okay! I can fix it!" won't serve him either, nor will a stern: "Don't treat your sister like that!"

Instead, you kneel beside your children and validate your son. "Hey, I can see you're worried that your sister might wreck your castle. You worked so hard to build it." He nods and says that she always wrecks it and he hates her. You validate that feeling as well. "It must be frustrating to work so hard and then have your castle toppled by someone else." Then you add, "Your sister wants to play, too. Do you think we could build another castle for your sister to play with? We can build it together. Then I'll play with her and her castle so that you can enjoy yours."

You helped find a solution, while acknowledging that the feelings your son had were valid.


Here are a few other examples of how you can validate while seeking solution:

You are visiting a friend, and your child is protesting and arguing about getting into the car. You look for the need, and then validate. "The last time visited she wouldn't share her toys and you're afraid this visit won't be fun either." You add, "I know that you're rather go home, but I want to see my friend today. We're still going to visit, but would you like me to talk to her mama and find a few toys you can play with while we sit together at the table?"

or… "Barking dogs are scary. And their dog is big and loud. I understand. Would you like me to hold you until you feel more comfortable?"

"You want me to buy you that cereal because it has that cute picture on the box. You feel frustrated that I always say no to the cereal with the animals on the package. That must be disappointing for you to hear no every time we come here."

All of these messages tell your child that you understand their feelings, and while the cereal still won't be coming home (no quick fix to quiet the expression), you have validated the emotions and the need that your child is expressing.

Whew. That was a long one. The upshot is look for the need, validate the feeling, and allow the expression.

And see what transforms.

I'm really looking forward to your thoughts on this one.


Here is a link to the first two steps in the series, in case you didn't see them yet.

More Peaceful Parenting Step 1. Forgive, Accept, and Love Yourself.

More Peaceful Parenting Step 2. Identify the Need.

46 thoughts on “More Peaceful Parenting Step 3. Validate.

  1. Kim says:

    Great post Rachel. I have actually been trying this already, but am finding it tough with my three year old. I find his emotions so strong at times, that sometimes the validation actually makes things worse. Not sure if I am getting the need wrong…He has even yelled that he doesn’t want to hear what I am saying a few times. Three year olds are tough.

  2. Aja says:

    This is good stuff Rachel. So timely. Seems we have been having so many struggles with our 12 year old lately. Tonight happened to be an extremely difficult evening. I hope this works. It’s not to late right? Please tell me I can still apply this to a 12 year old. 🙂

  3. Cassandra says:

    I had a particularly hard weekend since my daughter isn’t talking yet. She was sick Saturday but better by Sunday, except she wouldn’t stop screaming the *entire* freaking day. Nothing helped, no tylenol, no homeopathics, nothing would calm her except laying on me on the couch, completely still. If I moved an inch, she’d start screaming at the top of her lungs again. I was so ready to strangle her and the only thing that kept my anger at bay was, well mostly my husband being there, but also remembering that there had to be a reason for it, even if she wasn’t giving one single indication of what that was – no fever, no signs of pain, well rested, well fed – but she certainly wasn’t doing it to piss me off.

    One aspect of the “It’s okay” thing to think of is that it could be meant as “It’s okay to be upset”, although my husband and I say that to each because we were both raised with the swallowing emotions thing and will get frustrated at ourselves when we do get upset. It totally depends on context. “It’s okay” can be used to validate feelings in itself.

    Reading about the quick fixer thing totally reminded me of my mom. It wasn’t so much her “saving” me from dealing with the harsh aspects of life in a healthy way, but it frequently made me angry that she didn’t believe I was capable of dealing with the problems on my own. Sometimes her suggestions alone would invalidate my feelings if they were overly simplistic or something “Oh that’s not so bad, just forget about it, you’ll feel better.” It didn’t matter if it was actually helpful, I didn’t need or want her advice, I just wanted her to listen. Our mother-daughter sharing time would devolve into fights because she just wouldn’t shut up and hear me out. Eventually I stopped talking to her, and as an adult she complained that I secluded myself in my room as a teenager and she never got to know me. She still does it, something to do with her sense of self worth wrapped up in whether or not her children still need her, and I still just ignore her.

    Let it be a warning to other parents – trying to fix your kid’s problems does them no favors and can harm your relationship!

  4. KC says:

    I’ve been working on validation since i read simplicity parenting with you. I’m having a really hard time with it as my daughter tends to shut down when she gets upset. She won’t hear anything that comes her way. She gets very mad at me when i try to validate her feelings. It usually make her emotions explode even more. I think i must be approaching it wrong. I’m still working on it though becuase it has worked on occassion.

    Thanks for doing this series it’s helpful to have another mama explain how it works!

  5. Cassandra says:

    That was another thing I meant to bring up in my ridiculously long reply – when you validate, are you giving reasons with your validation? Even as an adult, I get more upset and angry when someone assumes the reason behind my feelings, and honestly couldn’t tell you why it’s so upsetting. Point being, I think validation and assumptions should not go together. Validation shouldn’t even need a reason, especially considering that kids sometimes just get upset, for nothing at all.

    And even still, some kids just want to feel their emotions without making something of it by talking. “I see you’re upset. Do you want to share why or maybe just have some time alone?” This is probably a better approach for older kids/teenagers and probably more so for girls. This is even an issue in my marriage, when I get angry and don’t want to talk until I’ve already processed my emotions, but I also don’t want my husband to ignore me.

  6. Trinitee says:

    I totally try to abolished the use of, “you’re okay,” with my son starting from infancy. It always bothered me that adults would tell an upset or crying child that he or she is okay, when, clearly, the child is not okay. My mom cares for my 2 year old, and one of the first (and many, as we have different parenting styles,) things I asked was for her to ask him if he was okay, rather telling him, giving him the opportunity to tell her how he feels.

    Somehow, “it’s okay” is different from “you’re okay,” for me. I think it depends on the circumstances and can be used as reassurance at times.

    My mom was a single mother and was fairly sheltered herself. In many ways she was absent because she worked, sometimes more than one job, so I didn’t want to burden her with my problems. On the other hand, she’s a worrier and a fixer, and as an adult, I’ve worked on creating a relationship in which I am able to express my feelings and be comfortable with telling her when to back-off (while trying to be gracious, understanding of
    her always good intensions, and patient… I fall short a lot…). So, these parenting goals can be applied to ourselves and within our other relationships. Whew, this is like a psychological workout!

  7. Rin says:

    I’m trying to incorporate validation into everything at the moment, not just with my daughter but with the kids I teach as well. Another really good book (for me anyway) was How to talk so kids will learn. Written by a couple of teachers it talks all about addressing challenging behaviour in school children in a positive way and meeting the needs and validating the feelings of the children to help them progress.

  8. Rachel Wolf says:

    Hi Kim,
    I’m looking forward to what others have to say about your particular experience (skimming through, it seems KC has a similar experience with validation). Would you say things get truly worse worth validation or is he emptying his cup of the bottled up feelings?

  9. Rachel Wolf says:

    How does she respond to quiet connection when she is upset? Holding, sitting together, etc? And as I asked Kim above, is it that she’s accelerating or is she more letting out backed up feelings? I look forward to what others think.

  10. karen says:

    Verbal validation has been working over here too. However, sometimes, when he is really mad about certain things, he is one of those who needs my loving presence as validation and no verbal validation. Verbal validation in these cases creates a situation where he screams “stop talking!” It has helped my son when I incorporate the not-talking-but-loving-presence kind of validation in these situations! Maybe it relates to sensitivity to noise or something, (which he doesn’t normally seem to have…) I am not sure, but am glad to have a mix of ways to validate and wanted to mention this to others who may need it too!

  11. Teri says:

    I love reading about this kind of parenting stuff! Not that I’m great at it, but it feels like “change the world” kind of behavior.

    For me, not having been raised with this kind of communication (like most of you), it can be a workout to remember to use these tools. I think I need to have post-it notes around my house that say “VALIDATE!”

    When my personal cup is filled (well-rested, healthy, mind at peace), I can do validation and it works great! When I am stressed or preoccupied or tired, not so much!

    So I’m working on keeping my cup filled so I can practice more peaceful parenting.
    Thanks for the forum to discuss this kind of stuff!

  12. Susie says:

    Hi Rachel
    I was wondering as I read this post – how can it be applied to younger children? There is often talk of using ‘less words, more action’ with children under seven and this validation route seems like a lot of talking. Is there an age from which is more suitable or do you think it can work with the really littles? My daughter is 22 months and my son is four years. My son has hit a turbulent patch and I wonder how I could use this to help him.
    Many thanks for such an interesting series.

  13. Kim says:

    My experience seems to be the same as KC’s. He just does not want to hear what I am saying. This has only been going on for a few weeks with this type of intensity, so maybe some bottled up feelings and not quite understanding how to deal with them. Tonight when I tried to validate his feelings during an intense moment he told me he didn’t not want to see me and I should go back in the house. He was on the front porch with my husband at the time. I did as he asked, and left him with my husband.

    After he calmed down he wanted to nurse, and I asked him if he wanted to talk with me about how he was feeling when he was outside and he shook his head no. I said no problem, and told him I understood that sometimes things get really frustrating and it is hard to deal with it. I explained I was here to help if he needed it. He just looked up at me with his big brown eyes and nodded.

    I will keep trying 🙂

  14. Robyn says:

    Sometimes my almost three year old reacts like that too. it seems like the validating is making it worse, but i think it’s really just that i’m giving her “permission” to let it out more fully. sometimes she tells me to stop talking and be quiet when i’m validating. so i just do as she asks, and stay nearby…or hold her if she wants me to. i do think overall, that validating helps tremendously. she has way less temper tantrums than any 2-3 year old i know.

  15. Robyn says:

    My mom is a big fixer too. i’m over 30 years old, and i still have to remind her that i just want her to listen. she always told me as a kid that it hurt her when i was hurt, so she wanted to make it better. as a parent now, i get that, but i try to remember with my dd that all i really wanted as a kid was just to feel heard and understood. i wanted to be taken seriously, even if my problem seemed trivial to an adult.

  16. Robyn says:

    i’m still reading Raising our Children, raising ourselves, but the book touched on this. i rememeber it explainig that you shouldn’t make assumptions when validating because that can make things worse. it’s realy tough not to though, IMO. i try to remember this and reflect back what my daughter says and wait for her to give me more info. sometimes i just say, i know you are sad right now…and wait to see what happens. sometimes i just hold her while she cries and say nothing at all, except i love you. she’s almost three, so sometimes she has a hard time identifing what is really bothering her, so i might never even get the real answer, but i feel like at least i’m letting her know i care and i’m here for her.

  17. Robyn says:

    My daughter is almost 3 and we use verbal validation and physical…we have done this pretty much since she was about a year old, so i don’t think there’s a too young age to start. Before she could talk, i would just say, “you’re mad!” with the same intensity she was showing me. i’d even make an angry face. If she was crying and sad, I’d say “you’re really sad.” and just hold her and rub her back until she was ready to get down and smiling again. i’d try to guess the reason…usually it was pretty obvious, but even if i didn’t know the reason, i’d still offer her whatever physical contact she would accept. i think by doing this, it gave her the words for her feelings at a lot younger of an age than most kids, and i think that helped a lot with her frustration.

  18. Kim says:

    Hmmm…that is an interesting way to look at it, the validation gives permission for him to let it all out, could be. Thanks!!! My little guy has actually been really cool until the last few weeks, no real temper tantrums to speak of, that is why these few weeks have really caught me off guard.

  19. Lori says:

    I’d like to hear more about assumptions and validation. My hubby & I were talking about this just last week because he remembers his mom saying to him “You’re tired/hungry/etc.” when he was having a melt down as a kid. He still remembers it with frustration because he felt it dismissed his actual feelings of anger. He asked that we work not to repeat that mistake when talking to our daughter.

    How can we tweak our verbal observations to be validation & not dismissive? “You feel frustrated because we’re still in the car and you want to get to the park. Would you like a snack?” Seems not quite right….

  20. Rachel Wolf says:

    Kim, Since I never had the experience you describe above with my kids, I didn’t recall how to handle it. I did some digging (Raising our Children Raising Ourselves) and she discussing how sometimes this can be the response. She suggests silent presence. Just be there for them, validate with your quite presence, but not with words. She talks about it specifically in terms of shame and anger but I think any uncomfortable feelings could result in the reaction you described for some children. Hope this helps.

  21. Rachel Wolf says:

    KC, As I told Kim above I read a bit more about this last night. Naomi Aldort discusses how some feeling for some people can result in offense and for those moments it’s best to simply hold quiet, loving presence for them. Validate by being there and not talking – rather than being present and helping them find the words. Hope this helps.

  22. Rachel Wolf says:

    For small ones, simply validating the feeling is the most important thing, rather than digging deep. “It hurts.” And holding with love. Less words, yet still a huge loving impact.

  23. Rachel Wolf says:


    So through his mom’s parenting style Stu go the message that his feelings didn’t matter.

    In Raising our Children Raising Ourselves she discusses how verbal validation backfires for some. You could tart with a more simple validation: “You feel angry,” or simply hold patient, quiet, loving space. I think it really depends on the personality of the child. I would love someone to validate verbally, Pete not so much.

    But I think it is worth recognizing that having his feelings dismissed by the observation (“You’re just hungry. That’s why your acting out.”) versus validated (“It’s hard to leave.” while you lovingly hold her as she cries) are very different things. The intention of the words is huge.

  24. Kate says:

    I love this. Like others, I have been working on this throughout my parenting days (thanks to my sister who first guided me in this direction). Some days are hard with an emotional toddler, but I have gotten better at it over time…partially by hooking myself on new phrases – I often repeat “mama’s here” at times when I used to say “it’s okay.” Repeating that a few times gives me time to think of what else I can say to fully validate how my child is feeling (or at least gives me time to just hold and be there). We work just as hard to validate the good feelings and accomplishments too, steering away from “good job” and instead pointing out smiles and responsible actions. Validation of feelings when young has such a huge, lasting impact on a person!

  25. Sherrie says:

    I had some success with validating my almost-five-year-old son’s emotions over the weekend that I wanted to share. It was as we were leaving our friend’s house after an overnight visit, and he had a wonderful time playing with their kids. We seldom get to see these friends, as they live in another province, and I was being especially aware of his reactions as we were packing up to leave, sensing that it would be a difficult transition for him. When he first started to show signs that he was upset as we packed up(pouting, looking down) I sat over by him for a bit and we talked about how I was feeling sad because we had to leave, and could that be how he was feeling, too? We talked about how special it is to have friends that we care about so much that we’re sad to be leaving, and that really helped him to process the event. I could almost see him accepting that we needed to leave, that we still love our friends, and that it’s okay to feel that way.
    I don’t feel comfortable telling him how he’s feeling, because I don’t always know what he’s thinking. With him, it’s much better to ask exactly what it is that he’s thinking, and go from there. He’s quite a talker and is able to explain what’s going on most of the time. If he’s silent and not responding, I might offer up a few possibilities, and he’s sometimes frustrated that I don’t know. Which is when I explain that unless he tells me something, I don’t know what he’s thinking. (That always seems to surprise him.)
    Thanks for facilitating this, Rachel. It’s helped me to be more mindful in my parenting for the past little while, and my husband and I had a great chat about it during a long drive. 🙂

  26. elsie says:

    Great post, plenty food for thought. Thanks for raising the “it’s OK” phrase, when people tell my DD “it’s OK” if she is upset, my knee jerk reaction is to reply to them “no it’s not”. She may only be 14 months but there are still many reasons why she is crying. I work on ignoring the comments of others and not my daughter’s tears.

  27. Robyn says:

    Hi all,

    i just wanted to share that this weekend i got the opportunity to watch my almost 3 year old playing with her dolls. usually she wants me to play along, but this time she was playing by herself. it was so great to see her validating her doll, who was crying. i saw her holding her doll and rubbing her back and saying in a very sympathetic tone, “i know you are sad. I know.” my heart broke from the sweetness.

  28. Susie says:

    Thank you Robyn and Rachel! With a few backwards steps and clumsiness, I am working with validation. I can see that it will work but on tired days, I’m not quite so good at it!

  29. Susie says:

    I had a funny experience with my son – he was having a ‘moment’ and I said to him, ‘you’re angry because you wanted daddy to stay here and not go to work’ and my son said to me, ‘no, I’m angry because I’m hungry’. Well, one cheese sandwich later and all was better!

  30. susan says:

    Okay, a practical application question. Child is angry/frustrated and hits you or someone else. I understand the validation. What I’m unsure about is whether you follow it up with “It’s okay to feel angry but it’s not okay to hit. Here’s what you can do instead…” I tend to do that a lot, and sometimes it feels like I steamroll over the validation to get to some sort of teaching/preaching. I’ve had inner conflict over this, as part of me says that my child needs to learn acceptable responses to their feelings and another part of me says that attending to the needs and then modeling appropriate behavior may be enough. Like I said, my actual behavior leans toward teaching/preaching, but it often doesn’t feel quite right.

    Maybe this is jumping ahead? If so, I’ll be patient 🙂

  31. Becky says:

    Thank you again for such well thought out and heartfelt advice. I always get a little choked up when I read your parenting posts, because I think of the millions of children with parents that barely have time to kiss them goodnight and haven’t thought about HOW they’re parenting in years.

    I applied “addressing the need” with a student in a class I held this week, and it was so much fun to watch this 7 year old change from a wild man standing on his chair singing “let’s start a riot” to a blushing little boy, because all he wanted was attention.

    I appreciate what you’re doing.


  32. Nettie Black says:

    I am curious as to how other folks that have faced challenges with validating are doing this week?? I have been struggling A LOT with our 4 year old daughter this past month. Validating (on a variety of levels) does not appear to be working, just being there for her also appears to not be working until after she calms down and needs to snuggle. Little upsets are turning into huge tantrums and then anger escalates into throwing things and repetitive hitting.

  33. Rachel Wolf says:

    Nettie, When you validate very simply (name the feeling, You feel angry that you cant have xyz.) what happens? Im curious if shes letting off bottled up feeling or if she is offended by the validation itself. What are her triggers these days?

    xxoo R

  34. Nettie Black says:

    After I try to validate simply, the drama tends to continue, almost as if I am talking to a wall. So much drama. Or sometimes she says she needs space. But when I walk more than 5 feet away, she flips out again. Tonight she was mad so she threw a pillow and stuffed animal on the floor. Which is fine, but then she flipped out because she demanded I pick them up and hand them back to her. I explained that I would not pick up after her but she carried on about needing me to pick them up and then passed out in my lap… We have plans to re-assemble the Asheville King (she had asked it to be taken apart so she could sleep in her own room. But that is also around when all this started and when she turned 4.) I am also ready to cut out rice. Does that seem odd?

  35. Rachel Wolf says:

    So in that example, the need seems to be for sleep. Maybe it is sometimes as simple as that – basic human needs like food and rest.

    What I noticed about A when we were together was that she needs to know her feelings are understood and that they are indeed valid. When I validated her a couple of times when we were in NC (at the park and at the festival) – and then handed over some power to her- she seemed to glow. The power seemed to be important. Its hard to have Lupine …ing in your space. Can you help show her …? I dont know if this helps, but since I know your girl a bit I know shes strong-willed and yet very tender. (Wonder where that comes from.) 😉 Its funny because just tonight I used her in an example tonight of a kid who rocked out on validation. (I can share the examples more specifically with you in a PM if you wish.) But then, Im not her parent so the rules completely change.

    Family bed – yes. You could also set up a bedroll in her room so she has the autonomy of sleeping in there if she wants to, but bring you all together so she has the closeness and grounding energy of you two.

    What else is going on? Changes at school or home?

    Maybe you start with basic needs. Let her blow off steam, acknowledge the feeling, stay close but not too close, and move towards your own quiet solution (snack, sleep, snuggle, etc.). Ug. I wish I could come see you and chat in person.

    Sending love.

  36. KC says:

    Sorry this is so after the fact. She does not like to cuddle at all. Though when she does want to be in my arms she doesn’t want kisses or for me to hold her in anyway. She is a spirited or high needs type of toddler so what works for many kids usually doesn’t work for her.

    It would seem to me that she accelerates. I have yet to try quiet presence. I’m going to try that and see.

  37. Helena says:

    I have a question. The way I was raised and the mentality behind it are engrained into me. When I am not slowing down and paying careful attention to what I am doing, I naturally do not want to hear whining and fussing, and send my daughter away from the living area if it gets too excessive. I don’t believe it is okay for her to ruin everyone’s moment with her poor mood. If I was in a bad mood, I would work on controlling it, not allow myself to just yell and scream and cry( MOST of the time) I also naturally think a child who was kicking/hurting someone should be disciplined so that they don’t grow up thinking it is okay to act like that.If I was angry I wouldn’t get validation from anyone in the world if i brought it so far as to hurt other human beings.

    my question is… what is the logic behind validating a child who is behaving violently? Will the child not grow up believing he gets what he needs when he acts out?

    What adult gets what they need when they act out? Not many…
    We must learn to express our feelings appropriately.

    If you leave discipline out of the picture when a child is violent, and you also give them everything they need emotionally at that point, will they not believe that is how they get it?

    What if you refrained from giving them what they need until they ask the right way? ( obviously not in cases that need to quickly diffused. you must choose your battles)

  38. Rachel Wolf says:

    Dear Helena,
    The ideas behind non-violent parenting is these:
    1) all feeling are valid.
    2) By showing our children that we understand and value their big feelings also send the message they they dont need to freak out to be heard.

    3) Through modeling peaceful behavior ourselves our children will learn more peaceful ways to express themselves.

    Many of the most mellow, least likely to act out children I know are the ones who are peacefully parented. These kids understand that they are heard and valued, no matter what.

    A child who is hurting someone should of course be stopped to protect the other child, but disciplined? What about letting them know you understand their anger/frustration/feelings of smallness and then providing them with tools to express it without violence. That is the lesson of peaceful parenting. I encourage you to read the other posts in this series. There are some great examples there of how peaceful parenting can often diffuse a challenging, explosive parenting moment.


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