Optimal family validation..

DBT Skills Training Manual

In the optimal family, public validation of private experience is given frequently. For example,

  • when a child says, “I’m thirsty,” parents give him or her a drink
    • rather than saying, “No, you’re not. You just had a drink”.
  • When a child cries, parents soothe the child or attempt to find out what is wrong
    • rather than saying, “Stop being a crybaby!”
  • When a child expresses anger or frustration, family members take it seriously
    • rather than dismissing it as unimportant.
  • When the child says, “I did my best,” the parent agrees
    • rather than saying, “No, you didn’t”

And so on.

In the optimal family,

  • the child’s preferences (e.g., for color of room, activities, or clothes) are taken into account;
  • the child’s beliefs and thoughts are elicited and responded to seriously;
  • and the child’s emotions are viewed as important com- munications.

Successful communication of private experience in such a family is followed by changes in other family members’ behavior. These changes increase the probability that the child’s needs will be met and decrease the probability of negative consequences.

Parental responding that is attuned and is not aversive results in children who are better able to discriminate their own and others’ emotions.


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