I'm Here the Antidote to "You're Okay"Jan 19, 2023
First things first, no one is perfect and it’s easy to look at current trends or articles and immediately think something like “I’m no good at this. I don’t know what I’m doing”. This is normal and natural and I would offer first, be kind to yourself. Parenting is a big job and there’s a LOT of information out there.
That being said, I understand the advice about avoiding saying “You’re Okay”. Children need to feel safe and part of that is validation. When we say “you’re okay” when a child is NOT okay invalidates their feeling and experience.
In order to move forward from saying “you’re okay” let’s acknowledge that this response comes from two places. First, we heard this growing up either in our household or in school or some other setting. We are repeating a behavior that we have seen and probably see currently. Repeated patterns can be broken only if we notice them and make a conscious choice not to repeat them. This can take time.
Second, this comes from a place of care. We want to show care and create connection when our children are upset or having a big emotional moment. In order to change the pattern, we have to understand what we don’t want (invalidation) and what we do want (care and connection). If we want to share care and connection, we can follow these steps which I've made into an acronym (S.A.D):
- S - Signal Your Connection - Say something that lets the child know that we care. “I’m here” is a good example that connects and validates.
- A - Affirm Your Feelings - Follow this with identifying how you're feeling in response "I see you are upset and that make me sad”. This will signal true connection.Saying upset instead of sad or angry allows the child to name their own emotion.
- D - Determine Feelings and Next Steps - Following up with “Tell me what you’re feeling” will give your child the ability to name their own feeling. This is so empowering. After that, ask "What do you need to feel better?"
Learning to break patterns can take time and will definitely take grace. Be kind to yourself if you slip. Be the encouraging person to yourself that you want to be for your child.
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