Validation vs Coddling – Did you know the difference?

 

coddling

Your child is crying due to a conflict with kids in his school. What would you say?

Option 1 – Get over it! It happens to everyone; you don’t need to cry about it. (Denial)

Option 2 – Poor thing, you’ve had such a hard day at school. I will talk to your teacher about it. (Coddling)

Option 3 – It was a hard day for you. It is normal to feel this way. Tell me more about it. (Validation)

Which option seems best to you? Using option 1 was the most-used method by adults in the past. A child was expected to be small, insignificant and behave in a certain way. But joint families and strong social structure helped in well-rounded growth of kids despite lack of empathetic attitudes of some of our parents.

But times have changed since. Only mom and dad (or sometimes single parent) have stayed as solid family structures have collapsed around us. And option 2 popularly name as Coddling and option 3 or Validation have mostly stayed. In both cases, a child’s feelings are acknowledged. But option 2 indulges a child while option 3 makes him strong and confident.

Now Coddling and Validation seem very similar. There is just a thin line in between! Validation is a balanced approach while you go overboard with coddling. The trick is to identify the boundary.

spoilt boy

Parents who coddle offer to intervene on behalf of the kids, signalling thereby the child is incapable of handling his problems.

Coddling makes a child feel manipulative, helpless, victimized and entitled. The child feels controlled and babied.

Coddling parents indulge in helicopter parenting – a phrase coined for those who hover over their child’s every move in an effort to protect them from pain, disappointment, and failure. When kids are over-praised, they start feeling entitled and reduce their efforts to do something and be challenged.

And if kids are overprotected, they feel restricted, socially inferior and inadequate.

We all are guilty of doing this, aren’t we? The thing is keeping a child’s self-esteem intact while challenging them to rise and shine, is a hard task and it comes with practice.

validating

On the other hand, parents who validate empower the kid to make his own decision and find a way out of challenging situations in his life. Parents kind of mirror back his emotions and show their trust in his ability to deal with it.

Parents who validate do not overindulge or offer to make things right for their kid (unless it is some serious problem that requires intervention of adults). Also, they do not deny their kid’s feelings but show warmth and understanding. It is a kind of midway between denial and coddling.

Validation creates independence, emotional intelligence, better social skills and strengthens parent-kid bonding.

The book the ‘Power of Validation’ talks about it at great length.

The authors define validation as “the recognition and acceptance that your child has feelings and thoughts that are true and real to him regardless of logic or whether it makes sense to anyone else.”

Validating means acknowledging thoughts and feelings of your child without judging, ridiculing or abandoning them. It means listening and making him or her feel ‘heard’ – this conveys that you love and accept your kid unconditionally.

Hall and Cook, explain that validation is not the same as comforting, praising or encouraging your child. For instance, telling your child that they played great in their soccer game isn’t validating. What is validating is saying the truth, such as “It’s hard when you don’t play as well as you would like.”

“Validation is acknowledging the truth of your child’s internal experience, that it’s normal and okay to not always play your best, be the best player, or do all things perfectly or even well,” they write. So, just validating,  just listening, just understanding …works wonder.

Parenting is hard and identifying those fine psychological lines that can straighten or bend our kids is even harder. It is difficult to be understanding when we have so much going on in our lives. But then it is not impossible! And this balanced approach comes with commitment and practice. We owe that to our kids, don’t we? Happy parenting!

(Images courtesy Google)

 

 

A Child’s Note to Parents

Dear Parents,

Soon you would be having conference regarding my performance in school. As you listen, please remember that what my teacher might be describing may not be the complete truth. So, do not get uptight if you hear any blemish. I hope you will accept me as I am as long as I am trying.

Remember that all children do not walk or speak at the same age, nor do they learn math, reading or science at the same rate. Please do not compare me to my brothers, sisters, cousins or friends. I am unique to this world. Be realistic in setting my goals. Challenge me but do not push me beyond my abilities. Please let me be a child first before labelling me as a success or a failure.

The conference would be a picture of me at school. I am very different at home. In school, I have to deal with around 25-50 kids my age, I sometimes respond in a different manner. My teacher knows me at school, You know me at home. The real ‘Me’ is somewhere in between.

When these images blend with sufficient understanding, acceptance and love, I hope you’ll see a unique individual who can make you proud and bring happiness to our family.

Love you,

Your Kid

(We received this touching leaflet from my Son’s school before a conference. I could not help sharing. Do share this post, it is worth the effort. Because sometimes we adults are incapable of seeing a child’s point of view.)


Images courtesy Google

The Big Brother

He knew it was late. His mother would be anxiously waiting for him but he wanted to dilly dally. He wished, she could come down to receive him at the bus stop just like she used to do! But these days she was always busy with the whining little thing, they brought from the hospital. 

It was his dream to be a big brother but now he realised how challenging it was. The baby was a cranky one. If only they could replace her with a sweet, sleepy baby! He no longer liked being a big brother. He wanted constant attention from his parents more than ever.

Dragging his feet, he went home. His mother was at the door with the baby. She reproached him for loitering around. But the cranky one smiled. He ignored her. But she cooed again and held out her baby hand. 

His feelings changed from dejection to exhilaration! She was quite cute, after all!

(This is my entry to the flash fiction challenge, Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers hosted by the lovely Priceless Joy. We are given a photo prompt and approximately 75-175 words with which to create our stories. This challenge is open to all who would like to participate. Thank you Jessica Haines for the image. Please CLICK HERE for more.)

I am your parent!

In the US, kids are treated like little Gods! Every passers by will greet or nod at your child… some would come over and compliment your kid. They are petted, hugged and encouraged for even the smallest effort like murmuring a soft ‘Thank You’.

Teachers are kind, neighbours are sweet. Your kids are little Kings and Queens surrounded by doting courtiers. And then there is the dreaded emergency number 911, which stops you from dealing harshly with your child even though he or she has been very, very naughty.

I really appreciate it and am very happy when my kids get attention. But sometimes, I do not know how to handle so much sweetness at home. When kids’ behaviour start going out of hand, my Indian roots compel me to go sour.

Back in India, life includes bitterness too for kids. Parents scream, teachers yell and relatives chide while a kid is expected to take it all in a stride.

Grown ups have plan for your studies, career, marriage and a child listens it out respectfully. 

I have been through all this in my growing up days. My parents have done everything to stop me from taking bad decisions, I have fought back too, yelling – “It’s my life”!  But at this point of time, I am grateful to them for I got stopped from taking some crucial bad decisions… just in time.

I agree that parents do not know everything but they do know something based on their varied experiences of life and people. If parents remain diplomatically sweet, they are not doing their duty. To put your foot down, to even cross the line to make your kid see sense is not a bad thing. 


In India, some parents still use all the four upayas mentioned by the great Chanakya (philosopher, teacher, economist of ancient India) to get things done. 

1) Sama – Appealing to reason or sense

2) Dama – Offering or bribery

3) Danda – Punishment

4) Bheda – Diplomacy

While I do not agree with taking extreme measures and psychologically damaging a child to get things done, I do agree that a child needs a little bitterness for his own betterment. Just like a clay pot needs the right pressure to get moulded beautifully.

So, parents do not feel guilty if you have punished your kid for some wrong doing. If it is for their good then harsh words are thousand times better than sweet talk.

Images courtesy Google

Milk that jumped out from the table

   
 Once upon a time, there was a little boy who hated drinking milk. The sight of a glass full of warm milk made him fussy. The moment he saw milk, he would throw tantrums and make excuses to run out of the room.

The glass full of milk would feel very sad and sorry for herself. She would come soaked in chocolate and strawberries still the little boy hated her. And being hated and neglected is not a nice feeling!

The glass full of milk tried her best to make herself attractive but to no avail. The little boy still ignored her.

One fine day, she got tired of waiting on the table. She planned to make an exit from the boy’s life forever. She shifted onto the edge of the table and jumped on the floor. The glass was broken and the milk was gone. Curly kitten, Pancake puppy and blacky ants had a great time licking the milk away from the floor.

  
The little boy clapped and felt happy that he would no more be burdened by having to drink milk twice everyday for good health and teeth.

As days passed by, the little boy started facing problems. He had developed the habit of eating junk food and candies which made him less strong and energetic. As a result, he fell sick. He got a few painful shots on the bum which hurt him very much.

As he lay on the bed, the curly kitten came to him. She looked very healthy and beautiful. The sad little boy asked the kitten – “Don’t you ever fall sick Curly? What makes you so strong?” “No,” said the Curly kitten. “I drink milk and eat good food. That is why I am so strong.” The boy remembered how the kitten used to drink his leftover milk everyday.

Later, the plump white Pancake puppy, came there to play. The little boy asked the same question –
“Don’t you ever fall sick Pancake? What makes you so strong?” “No,” said the Pancake puppy. “I drink milk and eat good food. That is why I am so strong.” The boy remembered how the puppy used to drink his leftover milk everyday.

He remembered how he had neglected the glass full of milk. He felt apologetic. He realised that the only way to grow healthy and strong as well as escape shots in the bum was to drink milk.

To the great surprise of his parents, the little boy requested milk that night. Immediately, his mother got him a warm glass brimming with milk and kept it on the table.

   
But lo and behold!The milk jumped from the table again. The mother got another one but same thing happened again. The boy understood that the milk was angry with him.

The wise little boy thought of a plan. The moment his mother brought milk again, he jumped out of the bed, took it from her hand ( before she could put it on the table) kissed it, and drank it at one go… Everyone clapped. The curly kitten and Pancake puppy broke into a jig.

The little boy started drinking milk everyday and he grew big and strong. The glass full of milk remained his best friend even when he grew into a very old man.

So, the moral of the story is – Little boys and girls should always readily drink milk at one go… or else you know what happens when milk starts jumping out of the table…! 

  

( Dedicated to all the little ones in your family. Drink milk, eat right and stay healthy.)

Images courtesy google