When a nanny validates a child’s feelings, she helps him to feel valued and accepted. Validation means to accept and recognize the child’s internal experience as valid or legitimate. It does not mean you necessarily agree with or support the feelings, emotions or behavior associated with the child’s feelings. It simply means you hear and understand. When a child feels heard and understood it helps to calm him and further him on his path to emotional regulation.
Nannies can validate a child’s feelings by paraphrasing toddler’s words, reflecting back to the toddler what you are hearing him say and by suggesting how he may be feeling. Nannies can even help to normalize a child’s feelings. For example, if a toddler is upset a sibling ripped his artwork she could say “Of course you are upset he ripped your artwork. You worked really hard on creating it.”
Nannies can also provide appropriate ways for the child to express his emotions that do not hurt himself or others. For example, if a toddler is mad that his brother knocked down his block tower, a nanny could say “I see you’re angry that your brother knocked over your tower. You worked hard to build that tower and I understand you are mad. When we’re mad we can say ‘I’m mad’.” Modeling appropriate ways for children to express their feelings will help foster their social and emotional development.