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Parenting with Dialectical Behavior Therapy Validation Strategies

Do you encounter resistance in your family? Do you ever feel like you are single-handedly keeping your house from falling into chaos?

As a mother of 3, ages 5 and under, I often feel like I’m alone in the battle to keep order in our house. Requests for dishes to be put in the dishwasher, toys to be returned to toy bins and teeth to be brushed are often met with sullen attitudes, tears and refusals. At times, I feel that my only options are timeouts and withholding privileges, but I don’t like the resulting atmosphere of combat. My dream is to have a cooperative group effort, where we each contribute to the best of our ability.

I’ve learned to look at myself when our balance shifts from cooperation to conflict. I’ve usually gotten into “get things done” and “clean things up” mode, which means I’m asking only for change (for the kids to do something other than playing or what they want). It doesn’t work. Validation and active listening, on the other hand, are strategies to counter resistance, help our children collaborate with us and increase our understanding of our kids’ point-of-view. Once I slow down and shift out of my “get things done” approach, I realize that I need to appreciate everyone’s perspective, in order to have help around the house.

Validation strategies are core to many parenting techniques for good reason:

  1. Validation balances change.
  2. It increases communication and understanding
  3. It teaches our children to understand themselves.
  4. Validation and active listening decrease intense emotions, help us identify the right problems to solve, and propose strategies that fit our children’s ability level and personality.

What is Validation?

Validation is communicating to another person that their emotions, thoughts, or feelings are meaningful, understandable, and authentic. The essence of validation is to communicate to our children that their responses make sense and are understandable within their current life context, stage of development and situation. It is understandable to not want to pick up toys when you are 3 years old and engrossed in dressing dolls or building a tower.

Validating our children does not mean that we agree with them or believe their behavior was OK. It does communicate that we understand.

Look for specific validation strategies in my April 4, 2010 post.


Linehan M. Cognitive Behavioral Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder. New York: Guilford Press, 1993.

Parenting with Dialectical Behavior Therapy Validation Strategies

Christy Matta, MA

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APA Reference
Matta, C. (2010). Parenting with Dialectical Behavior Therapy Validation Strategies. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 14, 2020, from


Last updated: 31 Mar 2010
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