If you are not a great validator, it is easiest to start by saying, “I realize … ” or “I understand … “
Imagine being corrected or criticized all day long. Research indicates that students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) alone are criticized, coerced, or corrected by authority figures an average of 30 times a day, when a student without ADHD is only criticized, coerced, and corrected an average of 6 times a day.
For students who have been yelled at, and made to feel guilty by an adult authority figure in his/her lifetime, it may take time and consistency to change the student’s perceptions and habits.
Validating is one important strategy that is critical in order to redirect behavior and maintain positive relationships with students.
Validation statements help by allowing the student to feel the adult is on his/her side, and is simply asking the student to do what is in his /her best interest(s).
When a student is cursing: “Luis, I realize you are angry and I would probably be angry too if I could not find my materials, but if you are struggling to be organized, why don’t you let me help you develop an organizational system that is easier for you to manage?”
When a student throws a pencil across the room: “Excuse me, Derrell, I realize you are trying to get Tammy’s attention. However, if you want her attention, you need to wait until after class. If you need help from somebody, you can raise your hand and one of us will come to assist you, because in this school we get people’s attention by raising our hand.”
When a student is rocking back and forth in her chair: “Excuse me, Kim. I realize it is not easy staying in your seat, but if you need to move around, why don’t you stand back here with me to stretch out and then you can go back to your seat, because in this school we don’t rock back and forth in our chairs.”
Validation can also be used to remind a student of the successful coping strategy he or she used in in the past, e.g., “I saw that you were angry about what Stephanie said, and I’m glad that you calmed down and asked to see a counselor about it.”