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The Role of Maternal Emotional Validation and Invalidation on Children's Emotional Awareness


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Emotional awareness—that is, accurate emotional self-report—has been linked to positive well-being and mental health. However, it is still unclear how emotional awareness is socialized in young children. This observational study examined how a particular parenting communicative style—emotional validation versus emotional invalidation—was linked to children’s (age 4–7 years) emotional awareness. Emotional validation was defined as accurately and nonjudgmentally referring to the emotion or the emotional perspective of the child. The relationship between maternal emotional validation/invalidation and children’s awareness of their negative emotions was examined in 65 mother–child pairs while playing a game. In a multiple regression, significant predictors of children’s emotional awareness were their mother’s degree of emotional validation, the child’s gender (girls more aware than boys), and their mother’s degree of invalidation (negative predictor). These results suggest that children’s accurate attention to their own emotion states—that is, their emotional awareness—may be shaped by their mother’s use of emotional validation/invalidation.
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Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, April 2016, Vol. 62, No. 2, pp. 129–157. Copyright © 2016 by Wayne
State University Press, Detroit, MI 48201.
The Role of Maternal Emotional Validation and
Invalidation on Children’s Emotional Awareness
John A. Lambie and Anja Lindberg Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge
Emotional awareness—that is, accurate emotional self-report—has been linked
to positive well-being and mental health. However, it is still unclear how emo-
tional awareness is socialized in young children. This observational study exam-
ined how a particular parenting communicative style—emotional validation
versus emotional invalidation—was linked to children’s (age 4–7 years) emo-
tional awareness. Emotional validation was defined as accurately and nonjudg-
mentally referring to the emotion or the emotional perspective of the child. The
relationship between maternal emotional validation/invalidation and children’s
awareness of their negative emotions was examined in 65 mother–child pairs
while playing a game. In a multiple regression, significant predictors of chil-
dren’s emotional awareness were their mother’s degree of emotional validation,
the child’s gender (girls more aware than boys), and their mother’s degree of
invalidation (negative predictor). These results suggest that children’s accurate
attention to their own emotion states—that is, their emotional awareness—may
be shaped by their mother’s use of emotional validation/invalidation.
Why are some children more aware of their emotions than others? In addi-
tion to possible genetic factors, socializing processes are likely to play an
important role (Stegge & Meerum Terwogt, 2007). The question is impor-
tant to answer because there is evidence that emotional awareness plays
a role in the development of children’s emotional and social competence
John A. Lambie and Anja Lindberg, Department of Psychology.
We gratefully acknowledge the help of Kristofer Lindberg, Rachel Williams, Daragh
McDermott, and three anonymous reviewers.
Address correspondence to John A. Lambie, Department of Psychology, Anglia Ruskin
University, East Road, Cambridge CB1 1PT, United Kingdom. Phone: +44 (0) 1223 698188.
130 Merrill-Palmer Quarterly
(Fonagy, Gergely, Jurist, & Target, 2002; Smith, Hubbard, & Laurenceau,
2011) and in their mental health (Casey & Schlosser, 1994; Rieffe &
DeRooij, 2012; Zeman, Shipman, & Suveg, 2002). However, children’s
emotional awareness—by which we mean their ability to accurately rec-
ognize and report their own emotions—has not had the same amount of
research attention as their emotional understanding, and the factors spe-
cifically facilitating the development of emotional awareness in children
are arguably still not well understood. The present study aims to further
understanding in this area by looking at the effects of a specific aspect
of parenting—the use of emotional validation (Ginott, 1965; Linehan,
1993)—on young children’s (age 4–7 years) emotional awareness.
We chose to examine this age group because it is known that, by this
age, children are able to use self-describing emotion words (e.g., Wellman,
Harris, Banerjee, & Sinclair, 1995), but that there are quite wide varia-
tions in how well these reports match expressive and behavioral measures
(Warren & Stifter, 2008). Furthermore, children of this age are young
enough to be strongly influenced by ongoing parental emotional regulation
(Slade, 2005)—while being old enough to verbalize their emotions—thus
making them suitable for the investigation of the influence of maternal
emotional validation on their emotional awareness.
The present research also aims to overcome two problems that have
arguably hindered progress in this area—namely, (a) failures to clearly dis-
tinguish conceptually between children’s emotional awareness and their
emotional understanding, and (b) difficulties in measuring and operational-
izing emotional awareness. We shall briefly address these questions before
examining the literature on how parenting may affect children’s emotional
Defining and Measuring Children’s Emotional Awareness
Researchers have tended to focus more on children’s (third-person) emo-
tional understanding than their (first-person) emotional awareness and
have often failed to distinguish clearly between them. Whereas emotional
awareness refers specifically to one’s ability to attend to one’s own emo-
tional state in such way that it can be reported (Lambie, 2009), emotional
understanding refers to a much broader skill set including the ability to
recognize and name emotions in others and understand the causes and con-
sequences of emotions (Saarni, Campos, Camras, & Witherington, 2006).
Emotional awareness is specifically first person—it is knowledge of one’s
own in-the-moment and episodic emotional states—whereas emotional
understanding is more third-personal, general, and semantic. Although
Emotional Validation and Emotional Awareness 131
emotional awareness and emotional understanding are likely to be related
(e.g., they both involve categorization of emotion), they are distinct opera-
tions, and some of their underlying processes are likely to be different. For
example, introspective attention to one’s own state right now is needed for
emotional awareness, but many semantic aspects of emotional understand-
ing (e.g., knowing which situations typically evoke sadness in people) do
not require this.
This brings us to the second difficulty already mentioned, which is
how to measure emotional awareness in children. There have been broadly
four different ways of doing this: (a) use hypothetical emotional scenar-
ios and ask children “How would you feel in this situation?”, scoring the
complexity of the answers (e.g., Levels of Emotional Awareness Scale for
Children; Bajgar, Ciarrochi, Lane, & Deane, 2005); (b) ask children to
report generally how good they are at identifying their emotions (e.g., the
Emotion Awareness Questionnaire—sample question: “When I am upset,
I do not know if I am sad, scared, or angry”—Rieffe et al., 2007); (c)
induce emotions and ask children to report how they felt—for example,
“How angry were you from 1 to 4?” (e.g., Smith et al., 2011); and (d)
induce emotions and ask children to report how they felt, but judge this
normatively against a behavioral measure—for example, degree of emo-
tional awareness is the degree of convergence between self-report and
facial expression or other bodily expression (e.g., Casey, 1993; Strayer
& Roberts, 1997; Warren & Stifter, 2008). The problem with methods a
and b is that they involve meta-awareness of one’s emotional awareness
ability and are therefore one step removed from basic real-time emotional
The problem with method c is that it assumes that introspection is
accurate and will not generate false positives (children overreporting
emotions they do not have) or false negatives (children failing to report
emotions they do have). The difficulty with measures that take self-report
at face value is that they assume that the subject has good introspective
attention, but having good introspective attention is precisely the factor
that an awareness measure is trying to measure. As several researchers
have noted, introspection may not be reliable (e.g., Jack & Shallice, 2001;
Myers, 2010; Nisbett & Wilson, 1977).
For these reasons, we prefer measures that use method d, the conver-
gence of self-report with another indicator of emotion state. This means
that we take emotional awareness to be a normative and not a descriptive
concept—namely, that it is relative to a standard and admits to degrees of
more or less accuracy. In this normative usage, it is legitimate therefore to
talk of good or poor emotional awareness.
132 Merrill-Palmer Quarterly
Development of Children’s Emotional Awareness
Soon after they begin to talk, young children start referring to their own
feeling states and, by 28 months (some argue even young as 12 months),
children seem to be aware of their emotions such that they can describe
single emotional states in themselves (Harris, 1989; Saarni, 1999).
Evidence from natural language in young children in North America
shows that by the age of 28 months most children have used labels and
descriptive phrases to refer to their own emotional state—for example,
“It’s dark, I’m scared,” “I not cry now,” and “Not happy, sad” (Bretherton
& Beeghly, 1982; Bretherton, Fritz, Zahn-Waxler, & Ridgeway, 1986).
The earliest emotion words used by English speakers include “happy,
“sad,” and “scared,” but self-ascriptions of “surprised,” “jealous,” and
“embarrassed” are usually not used until about age 4 years or later
(Wellman et al., 1995), and full meta-cognitive awareness of emotions
(i.e., explicitly mentioning the role of thoughts and feelings in generat-
ing emotions) may not develop until as late as age 10 (Harris, Olthof, &
Meerum Terwogt, 1981).
With regard to age effects in early to middle childhood on accu-
racy of emotional awareness, surprisingly most studies have found no
age effects (e.g., Casey, 1993; Strayer & Roberts, 1997) or even that
younger children show better convergence between expression and
report than do older children (e.g., Eisenberg, Fabes, Schaller, & Miller,
1989). For example, Strayer and Roberts (1997), who looked at conver-
gence between reported and expressed emotions in 5-, 9-, and 13-year-
olds and found no increase with age, speculated that increasing insight
into one’s own emotions with age (if such insight occurs) may be off-
set by increasing social pressures to minimize emotions or conform
to social expectations as children grow older. This was supported in a
study of 7- to 12-year-olds by the finding that older children are more
likely to inhibit anger than are younger children (Hourigan, Goodman,
& Southam-Gerow, 2011). Indeed, convergence rates between expres-
sion and report in adults are not necessarily higher than they are in chil-
dren. For example a study using adults by Bonanno and Keltner (2004)
yielded correlations between expression and report of r .25 for sad-
ness and r .44 for anger, which compares with r .40 for sadness and
r .13 for anger in preschool children in a similar convergence study by
Warren and Stifter (2008). We should not assume that online emotional
awareness necessarily increases steadily from preschool to adolescence
and certainly not that it reaches a ceiling in adulthood. As Warren and
Emotional Validation and Emotional Awareness 133
Stifter (2008) write, “Reporting on one’s felt emotion is a difficult task
for adults and children alike” (p. 254).
With regard to gender effects on emotional awareness, most studies
show a clear advantage for girls. For example, in the Casey (1993) study,
girls were more accurate when reporting on their emotion display than
were boys. Among the girls, 65% accurately described their facial expres-
sions, whereas only 31% of the boys accurately described theirs. Eisenberg,
Fabes, Miller, et al. (1989) found that second-grade girls (6–7years)
showed greater convergence between self-reported and expressed sadness
than did second-grade boys. Strayer and Roberts (1997) also found that
5- to 13-year-old girls were more accurate than boys in reporting their emo-
tions. Exceptions are studies by Warren and Stifter (2008), which found
no gender differences in reporting accuracy in preschool children, and by
Anastassiou-Hadjicharalambous and Warden (2007), which found in a
sample of 8- to 10-year-olds that boys were more accurate than girls.
The Role of Parenting in Children’s Emotional Awareness
Although there has been much research on how parents socialize their chil-
dren’s emotions (for reviews, see Zahn-Waxler, 2010; Zeman, Cassano,
& Adrian, 2013), there has been little research on how such socialization
affects children’s subsequent ability to report their own emotions accurately.
Exceptions are the studies by Strayer and Roberts (2004) and Warren and
Stifter (2008). Strayer and Roberts (2004) did not directly observe parents’
behavior but found that children who reported greater parental rejection and
physical discipline were less accurate when reporting their emotion facial
display. Also parents’ own reports of lower levels of warmth were related
to lower levels of facial–verbal convergence in their children. Warren and
Stifter (2008) measured mothers’ emotion-related socialization behaviors
(which included mothers’ self-reports on their responses to their child’s
emotions, as well as an observational measure of their emotion talk with
their child) and found that supportive emotion-related socialization behav-
iors were predictive of their children’s higher self-awareness of happiness.
However, Warren and Stifter did not directly measure mothers’ responses
to their children’s in vivo emotions, so there is currently very limited direct
observational evidence that particular types of parenting behavior increase
children’s emotional awareness.
The role of parental emotional validation. A strong candidate for a
parenting characteristic that may facilitate children’s emotional awareness
134 Merrill-Palmer Quarterly
is emotional validation (Linehan, 1993). By emotional validation, we mean
the nonjudgmental reference to and acceptance of another person’s emotion
or emotional perspective (see also Fruzzetti & Iverson, 2004). The concept
of validating emotions in a therapeutic context was first introduced by Carl
Rogers (1961) and developed in parenting theory by Haim Ginott (1965),
although similar notions have long existed in Buddhist approaches to lis-
tening (Nhat Hanh, 1998). John Gottman (1993) has discussed validating
couples in marital therapy and uses a related but distinct concept of emotion
coaching in parenting training (Gottman, Katz, and Hooven, 1996).
The key aspects of successful emotional validation are that another
person’s emotion or emotional perspective is referred to (a) accurately
and (b) nonjudgmentally. For example, statements such as these, said in
a calm tone: “It looks like you are very angry”; “It sounds as if you hate
him very much”; “It seems as if you are disgusted with the whole situa-
tion” (Ginott, 1965, p. 28). It is the person’s emotion experience that is
accepted, not necessarily their behavior: for example (said to a child), “I
can see how angry you are at your brother. Tell him want you want with
your words not your fists” (Faber & Mazlish, 2002, p. 27). The flipside
of this is emotional invalidation, in which the other’s emotion is rejected,
dismissed, delegitimized, or incorrectly labeled—for example, saying,
“Don’t be angry” or “You’re not scared,” or simply ignoring the child’s
Several theorists have hypothesized that a high level of parental
emotional validation in early childhood contributes to good emotional
awareness, whereas a high degree of emotional invalidation leads to poor
emotional awareness (e.g., Fruzzetti & Iverson, 2004; Linehan, 1993). The
mechanism underlying this link would presumably be a form of shaping,
and several theorists suggest that in part it is the child’s introspective atten-
tion that is being shaped. Some theorists have proposed that categorical
emotions are not straightforwardly introspectable (Barrett, 2006; Frijda,
1986) and thus that learning to report them requires that one’s attention be
guided and shaped towards relevant features such as relevant thoughts and
bodily sensations (Lambie & Marcel, 2002), or that other people reflect
one’s emotions back in a way that enables one to notice one’s own emotion
state (Fonagy et al., 2002; Gergely & Watson, 1996).
However, to date, there is no direct evidence for the link between val-
idation and awareness. There are data linking emotional validation with
adaptive emotion regulation in children and adolescents (Shipman et al.,
2007), and with emotional reactivity in children (Shenk & Fruzzetti, 2011),
but the direct link with validation and awareness has not, to our knowledge,
been explicitly demonstrated.
Emotional Validation and Emotional Awareness 135
The Current Study
The current study directly examined the link between parental emotional
validation/invalidation and child awareness/unawareness of emotion in a
natural (or seminatural) context. Since very few fathers signed up to the
study, we focused only on maternal validation. With regard to measuring
these constructs, we developed a new observational measure of emotional
validation/invalidation based on the key conceptual features of nonjudg-
mental accurate reference to the emotion or emotional perspective of the
other (emotional validation) versus judgmental, dismissive, or inaccurate
reference to the emotion or emotional perspective of the other (emotional
To t es t t he li nk b et we en re al -t im e m at er na l e mo ti on al va li da ti on an d c hi l-
dren’s subsequent emotional awareness, we needed a situation in which chil-
dren express real emotions while interacting with their mother, but over which
we could control most of the overt situational factors. We chose a structured
game to elicit emotions (Snakes and Ladders)—one in which the outcome was
controlled (it was played on a computer with preset dice rolls programmed
in) and in which the mother’s interactions with the child could be measured
(via video recordings). Finally, children could be interviewed immediately
after the game and asked about their emotions at set “anchor points”—for
example, losing the first game, or going down a long snake—thus enabling us
to match up their reported emotions with the emotions they expressed while
we kept the situational factors constant. The specific hypotheses:
1. Higher maternal emotional validation expressed during the game will
predict higher child emotional awareness (i.e., greater accuracy in
children’s emotional self-report).
2. Higher maternal emotional invalidation expressed during the game
will predict lower child emotional awareness (i.e., lower accuracy in
children’s emotional self-report).
3. There will be a gender effect such that girls will be validated more
than boys and will have greater emotional awareness than boys.
A further question was whether the effects described in Hypotheses 1–3
would be independent of the child’s age, verbal IQ, and (third-person)
emotional recognition ability.
1. We measured accuracy of emotional awareness by using the convergence between the
children’s expression of emotion and their subsequent verbal report of it (Casey, 1993: Strayer &
Roberts, 2004).
136 Merrill-Palmer Quarterly
A total of 65 mother–child dyads participated in this study, which was
part of a series of studies forming a Ph.D. project on emotional valida-
tion. The children (33 boys and 32 girls) were 4–7 years old, with a mean
age of 70.09 months (SD 12.10) or 5 years 10 months. Children were
predominately recruited from primary schools in and around Cambridge,
England, with 8 children recruited from Wales. Children’s ethnicities were
83% White British, 12% mixed British parentage, and 5% Asian. Mothers’
age ranged 23–53 years. Family annual income ranged £14,000–£120,000
(median £45,000; £1 ca. $1.45). Mothers’ highest education levels
were as follows: 47% had a postgraduate education (e.g., master’s, doctor-
ate), 28% had an undergraduate degree (i.e., college education), 20% had
A levels or equivalent (i.e., high school education), and 5% had GCSE
(General Certificate of Secondary Education, test taken at age 16) as their
highest level of education.
Data were collected during a 1-hour home visit. Families were paid £6 for
their time, and the child received a small toy and a sticker as a token of
appreciation. All procedures were reviewed and approved by the Anglia
Ruskin University ethics board. Parents and children were fully informed
about the study procedures before giving their consent.
Prior to the researchers’ arrival, mother and child were informed that
they were to play a simple computer game (Snakes and Ladders) while
being videotaped, followed by a brief postgame interview regarding the
child’s emotions. Mothers were not told that they were explicitly under
observation, although they were aware that they were being video recorded,
and neither mothers nor children were told that the game was preset. Upon
arrival, the child was invited to help the researcher to set up the camera
and start the computer to encourage the child to relax in the researcher’s
presence. The mother and child were told that the person who wins two of
the three games would receive a prize (a toy of their choice), and they got
a quick look at the prize selection before they were told about the order of
events and taught how to play the game. To avoid the distorting effects of
observer presence, the researcher left the room when the game started. The
three games took 15–20 minutes to complete in total.
The researcher reentered the room after the three games and first
conducted the emotional awareness interview with the child, followed
Emotional Validation and Emotional Awareness 137
by the emotional recognition test, and finally the verbal ability measure.
Immediately before the emotional awareness interview, the researcher
checked whether the child remembered what had just happened in the
three games. This was the memory check protocol: “I want to ask what you
remember about the games we just played. Who won the first game? Who
won the second game? Who won the third game? Do you remember going
down two long snakes? Was it the first, second, or third game this hap-
pened?” After this, the child was asked the emotional awareness questions
(see the section Children’s first-person emotional awareness). The mother
completed a series of demographic questions and a parenting questionnaire
while the child was being interviewed. The mother was in the same room as
the child when the child was being interviewed. Lastly, the parent and child
were fully debriefed, and the child was awarded the prize and a certificate.
In the debrief, both mother and child were told that the game was rigged,
and the mother was given a brief explanation about emotional validation.
Snakes and Ladders game A computerized version of the traditional
board game Snakes and Ladders (aka Chutes and Ladders) was used both
to induce the children’s emotions and to engage each mother into interact-
ing with her child. In the traditional game, players take it in turns to throw a
die and then move their counter on a board with the aim being to reach the
winning square, and in which landing on ladders moves you nearer to the
goal, whereas landing on snakes takes you further away. For this project, a
computerized version of Snakes and Ladders was specifically developed in
which the board was represented on the computer screen and mother and
child took turns to “roll” the visually represented dice by pressing a com-
puter key. The game was played on a laptop with an inbuilt video camera
so that both mother and child could be recorded. The dice rolls for three
different games were preprogrammed into the computer so that the child
would lose the first game, win the second game, and win the third game. In
the final game, the child would be close to winning, then go down two long
snakes in a row, be on the verge of losing, but win in the end. All children
thus experienced the same three games (in terms of the dice rolls). Three
anchor points across the three games were used to standardize the emo-
tional awareness interview: (a) going down the long snake in the first game,
(b) losing the first game, and (c) going down two snakes in a row in the last
game. Each individual game took about 5–7 minutes to play.
Children’s (first-person) emotional awareness Emotional awareness
(indexed by the convergence between observed and self-reported emotions)
138 Merrill-Palmer Quarterly
was assessed by using children’s video-recorded facial expressions and
an immediate postgame interview. The interview asked the child to iden-
tify their emotion at three separate anchor points across the three games:
“How did you feel when you went down the long snake in the first game?”,
“How did you feel when you lost the first game?”, and “How did you feel
when you went down two snakes in the last game?” Emotional awareness
was scored by the convergence between the child’s video-recorded facial/
postural/vocal expressions at the time of the event and their later verbal
interview responses. For example, if their expression was coded as “angry”
when they lost the first game, and they replied “angry” (or a synonym
like “cross”) when asked how they felt when they lost the first game, they
were scored as correct. Emotional awareness was scored by using only
these three anchor points. Thus, the maximum emotional awareness score
achievable was 3 and the minimum was 0. Replying “nothing” or “okay”
was counted as correct if the expression was coded as “no emotion,” so
children not expressing any emotions at anchor points could still in prin-
ciple score a maximum 3 for emotional awareness if they correctly replied
“no emotion” (or equivalent) to each of the emotional awareness questions.
Coders judged the child’s predominant emotion by coding facial, pos-
tural, and vocal expressions during the 5-second period following each
anchor point. The coding system was based on work by Cole, Zahn-Waxler,
and Smith (1994) and Roberts and Strayer (1996). To obtain an interrater
reliability measure, two observers independently coded 30 emotion epi-
sodes from the game by using this system and achieved good agreement
( .72, p < .001).
Children’s (third-person) emotional recognition. Children’s emo-
tional recognition (of another’s emotion) was assessed by using the
Denham (1986) affective labeling task in which children were asked ver-
bally to identify emotions in four drawn faces representing happy, angry,
sad, and scared. Although Denham originally scored children 1 point for
each correct emotion identified and a half point for the correct valence of
emotion (e.g., calling the sad face angry), we decided to use a stricter cod-
ing scheme of simply 1 point for each correct emotion and no half points
for correct valence. The reason for this stricter scheme was that the issue
of being able to distinguish sad, angry, and fearful emotions was key to
our measure of emotional awareness (we awarded no half points here for
correct valence); and it was important for us to compare these awareness
scores with a control measure of the degree to which children recognize
and distinguish the expressions of anger, sadness, and fear.
Children’s verbal ability. Children’s receptive vocabulary was assessed
by using the British Picture Vocabulary Scale III (Dunn, Dunn, Styles, &
Sewell, 2009). The BPVS-III is administered by a researcher, who says a
Emotional Validation and Emotional Awareness 139
word from a standardized list, and the child points to one picture (out of
four) that corresponds to the word. The child responds to progressively
harder sets of words, and testing stops when the child makes at least eight
errors within a set of 12 pictures. Raw scores were used in data analysis.
Mother’s emotional validation and emotional invalidation. Emotional
validation was defined as parents’ verbal statements and behaviors that
accurately referenced their child’s emotion in an accepting, nonjudg-
mental way. This was measured by using an observational system spe-
cially designed for this study,2 the Emotional Validation and Invalidation
Observational Measure (EVIOM), which provided a simple count of the
total number of mothers’ validating and invalidating responses across the
three games. To control for children’s level of emotional expressivity (there
is more opportunity to validate if the child is more emotional), the total
number of validating and invalidating responses were divided by the num-
ber of emotions expressed by the child so as to give ratio scores of the aver-
age number of maternal validating and invalidating responses per emotion.
Interrater reliability of the EVIOM was assessed by using two rat-
ers, who each coded a sample of 30 mothers’ videoed responses by using
the EVIOM, and who were blind to each other’s ratings. There was good
agreement between the two raters for both emotional validation ( .66,
p <.001) and emotional invalidation ( .64, p < . 001). For construct
validity, test sensitivity, and brief factor analysis of the EVIOM, see the
The following coded responses gained 1 point for emotional valida-
tion and emotional invalidation, respectively, each time they occurred.
Responses coded as emotional validation were as follows:
1. Congruent emotion labeling. Directly labeling the child’s emotion in
an accurate and nonjudgmental way—for example, “I can see how
angry you are” or “It makes you sad to lose.
2. Validating emotional point of view. The emotional perspective of the
child is directly referred to (whether or not the emotion is explicitly
labeled)—for example, “They’re tricky those snakes” or “Oh dear!”
(said in a tone that is congruent to the child’s point of view).
2. To measure emotional validation, we did not use the existing Parent–Child Validation/
Invalidation Coding Scale (Schneider & Fruzzetti, 2002) for two reasons: (a) This scale is based
on observing a discussion between parent and child about a past emotional event in which the child
felt sad, angry, or scared, whereas we wanted to look at live rather than past emotions in children in
order to gain concurrent measures of real-time emotional awareness and real-time emotional vali-
dation. (b) The scale gives “problem-solving” by the parent a high rating for emotional validation,
which is conceptually problematic, since arguably problem-solving can be done in an invalidating
way (see Faber & Mazlish, 2002; Ginott, 1965).
140 Merrill-Palmer Quarterly
3. Marked affect mirroring. The parent displays the correct emotion
category that corresponds to the child’s emotion state, but in an
exaggerated or “marked” way in order to make clear that the dis-
play refers to the child’s, and not the parent’s, emotional state (see
Gergely & Watson, 1996).
Responses coded as emotional invalidation were as follows:
1. Minimizing. Playing down the seriousness of the situation—for
example, “It’s only a game.
2. Incongruent category. Parent’s verbalization or facial expression is
incongruent to the child’s emotion—for example, “You look angry”
(when the child looks sad), or the parent smiles or laughs when the
child frowns or looks sad.
3. Distraction. The parent distracts the child from their emotion—for
example, “Oh look, it’s your turn,” “Let’s play another game,” or
“Maybe you will win this time.”
4. Negation. Telling the child not to have the emotion—for example,
“Don’t worry” or “Don’t be angry.”
5. Ignoring. Actively ignoring the child’s emotion—that is, making
no comment or response in situations when the parent has clearly
noticed the child’s emotion (as evidenced by eye gaze).
Coding of emotional validation, invalidation, and the child’s expressed
emotions was carried out blind relative to the emotions later reported by
the child. All children correctly answered all four of the memory questions,
checking that they remembered who had won each game and in which
game they had gone down two long snakes.
Bivariate Correlations Between All Study Variables
All bivariate correlations (Pearson’s r) and corresponding significance lev-
els (two tailed) between major study variables are listed in Table 1. Child’s
emotional awareness scores correlated significantly with three variables:
child’s gender (girls more aware than boys), mother’s emotional validation,
and mother’s emotional invalidation. Looking at the interrelationships of
these four variables, mother’s emotional validation and invalidation cor-
related significantly negatively with each other, and child’s gender was
correlated significantly with mother’s validation (girls validated more than
Emotional Validation and Emotional Awareness 141
Other points of note are that the child’s age was significantly correlated
with both their verbal ability and their emotional recognition score, but
neither age nor verbal ability nor emotional recognition was significantly
correlated with emotional awareness.
Children’s Expressed Emotion and Awareness of Emotion
The emotion-induction procedure successfully produced negative emotions
in all the children. Over the total game-playing period, the mean number
of negative emotions expressed per child (i.e., the mean emotionality score
referred to in Table 1) was 4.54 (SD 2.64). Of these emotions, 50% were
coded as sadness 47% as anger, and 3% as fear. The mother’s responses to
M (SD) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Child variables
1. Age
(12.10) 1 .06 .53** .12 .25*.07 .01 .12 .13 .12
2. Gender
(.50) 1 .11 .31*.08 .37** .18 .12 .26*.12
3. Verbal
(11.58) 1 .07 .19 .05 .28*.27*.05 .04
4. Emotionality
(2.64) 1 .03 .13 .23 .14 .01 .12
5. Third-person
(.84) 1 .22 .31*.01 .13 .08
6. Emotional
(.94) 1 .03 .22 .56** .36**
Parent variables
7. Household
income (£)
(28.26k) 1 .47** .07 .00
8. Mother’s
(3.06) 1 .26*.24
9. Emotional
(.37) 1 .28*
10. Emotional
(.56) 1
Table 1. Correlations, means, and standard deviations of key study variables
Note. N 65 for all variables except education (n 61) and income (n 55). For gender,
0 male, 1 female.
*p < .05, two-tailed.
**p < .01, two-tailed.
142 Merrill-Palmer Quarterly
all these emotions were later used in calculating emotional validation and
invalidation (see the next section). Because the incidence of fear was so
low, expressed fear was not included in the analyses of awareness by emo-
tion or validation by emotion.
Table 2 lists the number of children correctly reporting each emotion—
that is, the number (and percentage) showing awareness of each expressed
emotion by category. These were the emotional awareness scores by child:
18% of the children failed to correctly name any of their emotions, 43%
correctly named one of their emotions, 25% correctly named two emo-
tions, and 14% correctly named all three of their emotions. The mean
score for emotional awareness was 1.34 (SD .94). There was an uneven
distribution of awareness of emotion by emotion category. Children were
accurately aware of 53% of all occurrences of sadness, but only 24% of
all occurrences of anger. Thus, the majority of sadness episodes occurred
with awareness, whereas the majority of anger episodes occurred without
awareness. There was a significant association between awareness and the
type of emotion expressed, 2(1, N 161) 12.59, p < .001, .28.
Looking at the standardized residuals, the effect was driven by a signifi-
cantly lower-than-expected number of instances of awareness of anger
(standardized residual 2.1, p < 0.5) (see Figure 1). Based on the odds
Anchor point Sadness Anger Fear No
emotion Total
Lost first game Expressed 25 18 0 22 65
Reported 13 3 NA 1 17
% Aware 52% 17% NA 5% 26%
Down long
snake Expressed 39 17 2 7 65
Reported 22 5 0 0 30
% Aware 56% 29% 0% 0% 46%
Down 2 snakes Expressed 35 27 2 1 65
Reported 17 7 0 0 24
% Aware 49% 26% 0% 0% 37%
Total Expressed 99 62 4 30 195
Reported 52 15 0 1 68
% Aware 53% 24% 0% 3% 35%
Table 2. Number of children expressing emotions by category at each anchor
point, the number correctly reporting (aware of) that emotion, and the number
aware as a percentage (%) of those expressed
Note. NA not applicable.
Emotional Validation and Emotional Awareness 143
ratio, the odds of being aware of the emotion was 3.47 times higher if the
emotion was sadness than if it was anger.
Overall, children’s self-reports of emotion were linked to the emotions
they expressed, with (1, N 106) 4.19, p < .05, .19. Thus, taking
the sample as a whole, children’s reports of their emotions matched their
facial expressions at a level greater than chance. Based on the odds ratios,
children overall were 2.51 times more likely to report the emotion they
expressed than to report an emotion other than the one they expressed.
In terms of awareness by gender and emotion category a two-way
analysis of variance showed a main effect for gender F(1, 51) 8.08,
p .01 (girls were significantly more aware than boys) and a main effect
for type of emotion, F(1, 51) 5.73, p .02 (children who most com-
monly expressed sadness were significantly more aware of their emotion
than were those who most commonly expressed anger). There was no inter-
action between gender and type of emotion in degree of child’s emotional
awareness, F(1, 51) .00, p .99 (see Figure 2).
Mother’s Emotional Validation and Invalidation
Overall, in regard to their child’s negative emotions, mothers made a total
of 336 behavioral responses that were coded as either validating or invali-
dating. Of these, 89 responses (26%) were validating and 247 (74%) were
invalidating. Of the validating responses, 80% were coded as validating
point of view, 11% as mirroring, and 8% as labeling. Of the invalidating
Figure 1. Children’s emotional awareness by category. Number of instances of
anger and sadness expressed at particular anchor points of which children were
aware or not aware. *p < .05.
144 Merrill-Palmer Quarterly
responses, 37% were incongruent emotion, 32% distraction, 20% ignor-
ing, 9% minimizing, and 2% negation. In terms of the types of responses
individuals engaged in, a total of 57% of mothers showed at least some
emotional validation behavior, and 92% showed at least some emotional
invalidation. About half the mothers (54%) engaged in both validation and
invalidation, 38% in invalidation only, 5% in validation only, and 3% in
neither. The mean emotional validation ratio was 0.29 (SD .37), and the
mean emotional invalidation ratio was 0.83 (SD .56). In other words,
mothers made on average 0.29 validation responses per child emotion and
0.83 invalidation responses per child emotion. These responses differed by
child gender, with an average of 0.37 validation responses per girl’s emotion
and 0.19 validation responses per boy’s emotion, and an average of 0.76
invalidation responses per girl’s emotion and 0.90 invalidation per boy’s
emotion. Girls were significantly more likely to be validated than boys,
t(63) 1.96, p .025 (one-tailed), but boys were not significantly more
likely to have their emotions invalidated, t(63) 0.97, p .17 (one-tailed).
Figure 2. Child’s emotional awareness score (number of own emotions correctly
identified) by gender and type of emotion most commonly expressed.
Emotional Validation and Emotional Awareness 145
In terms of validation/invalidation behavior in relation to emotion cate-
gory, validation was more common following sadness than following anger.
There was a significant association between type of emotion expressed by
the child and the type of mother’s response, 2(1, N 336) 6.22, p < .05,
1.14. This effect seems to be driven by a greater tendency to validate
sadness. Based on the odds ratio, the odds of mothers producing a validat-
ing responses were nearly twice as high (1.87 times higher) if their child’s
emotion was sadness than if it was anger.
Did gender and type of emotion expressed by the child interact with
their mother’s degree of emotional validation or invalidation? This ques-
tion was addressed by conducting 2 ×2 analyses of variance (ANOVAs).
(For these ANOVAs, children who expressed sadness and anger equally
often [n 10] were excluded.) First, with mother’s emotional validation
as the dependent variable, and the child’s gender and the type of emotion
most commonly expressed by the child as the independent variables, two-
way ANOVAs showed a main effect for gender, F(1, 51) 4.92, p .03
(girls were significantly more validated than boys), and a main effect for
type of emotion, F(1, 51) 6.08, p .02 (children who most commonly
expressed sadness were significantly more validated than those who most
commonly expressed anger). There was no interaction between gender and
type of emotion in degree of mother’s emotional validation, F(1, 51) .80,
p .38 (see Figure 3).
Second, two-way ANOVAs for maternal invalidation showed no main
effect for gender, F(1, 51) 1.18, p .29, and no main effect for type
of emotion, F(1, 51) 0.86, p .36. There was no interaction between
gender and type of emotion in degree of mother’s emotional invalidation,
F(1, 51) .15, p .70.
Regression Analysis for Predicting Emotional Awareness
To determine how different variables predicted child’s emotional awareness
while controlling for the effects of the other variables, a multiple linear
regression was carried out using six predictor variables—child’s age, child’s
gender, child’s verbal ability, child’s emotional recognition ability, mother’s
emotional validation, and mother’s emotional invalidation. A hierarchical
procedure was used with the predictor variables entered in three blocks:
the four child variables entered first (Block 1)—age, gender, verbal abil-
ity, and emotional recognition—followed by the two parenting variables
added in Block 2. Finally, two interaction variables (validation × gender,
and invalidation × gender) were added in Block 3 to determine whether the
effects of validation on awareness were moderated by gender. See Table 3
146 Merrill-Palmer Quarterly
for standardized beta weightings and R2 values. Plots of standardized resid-
uals indicated that assumptions of normality, linearity, and homogeneity of
variance were met, and variance inflation factor (VIF) statistics indicated no
problems with multicollinearity.
Model 1, which included only the child variables, accounted for 20%
of the variance in child emotional awareness scores and was significant,
R2 .20, F(4, 60) 3.43, p .01. There were two significant predictors in
Model 1—namely, child’s gender and child’s third-person emotional rec-
ognition score. The addition of the parenting variables (mother’s emotional
validation and invalidation) in Model 2 increased the amount of variance in
child emotional awareness accounted for by 25%–45%. This second model
was also significant, R2 .45, F(6, 58) 7.46, p < .001, and R2 from
Model 1 to Model 2 was significant, R2 .25, p < .001. In Model2,
thethree significant predictors were child’s gender, mother’s emotional
Figure 3. Mother’s degree of emotional validation (average number of validating
responses per child emotion) by gender of child and type of emotion most commonly
expressed by child.
Emotional Validation and Emotional Awareness 147
validation, and mother’s emotional invalidation. Finally, in Model 3, the
interaction of emotional validation and gender, and emotional invalidation
and gender, were added to determine whether gender moderated the effects
of validation on awareness. R2 from Model 2 to Model 3 was 0.04 and
not significant. The standardized betas for both interaction variables were
not significant. Thus these additional variables in Model 3 did not add sig-
nificantly to the variance explained, and the comments that immediately
follow and those in the discussion are based on Model 2.
The variable with the largest association with child’s emotional
awareness was mother’s emotional validation. The effect size of mother’s
emotional validation In Model 2 can be expressed by saying that increas-
ing the mother’s emotional validation by 1 SD would be associated with
Table 3. Regressions predicting child emotional awareness (with child variables
entered for Model 1, mother’s validation/invalidation scores added for
Model2, and interactions between emotional validation/invalidation
and genderaddedforModel 3)
Predictor Model 1 Model 2 Model 3
Age (child) .01 .12 .11
Gender (child) .39** .25*.27*
Verbal IQ (child) .05 .03 .05
Third-person emotional
recognition (child) .24*.13 .18
Emotional validation
(mother) .44*** .36**
Emotional invalidation
(mother) .21*.16
Emotional validation
× gender .07
Emotional invalidation
× gender .25
R2.20 .45 .49
R2.25 *** .04
Note. Values for each variable represent the standardized beta for the variable.
*p < .05.
** p < .01.
*** p < .001.
148 Merrill-Palmer Quarterly
an increase in the child’s emotional awareness by .45 SD. The effect size
of child gender in Model 2 can be expressed by saying that being a girl,
rather than a boy, is associated with an increase in emotional awareness
by .25 SD.
We were interested at the outset in this question: Are mothers’ levels of
emotional validation and invalidation linked to their children’s emotional
awareness? The results showed that mothers’ emotional validation and
mothers’ emotional invalidation both had significant independent effects
on their children’s emotional awareness, even when controlling for their
child’s gender, age, verbal ability, and level of emotional recognition.
Based on a multiple regression model, the variable with the larg-
est association with children’s emotional awareness in this task was the
mother’s level of emotional validation. Furthermore, the mother’s level of
emotional invalidation was independently a significant negative predic-
tor of the child’s emotional awareness. This is consistent with Linehan’s
(1993) previous theoretical proposal that invalidating environments reduce
the child’s ability to label their own emotions accurately.
Neither the child’s verbal ability, nor their level of emotional recog-
nition, as indexed by an emotional facial recognition task, were signifi-
cant predictors of emotional awareness in this study. However, consistent
with some previous research, we found that girls were more accurate when
reporting their emotions than were boys. In addition, girls were signifi-
cantly more validated than boys (although boys were not significantly more
invalidated). The greater validation of girls therefore may have played a
role in girls’ greater emotional awareness.
Mothers’ emotional validation did not seem to serve as a simple
prime for the children’s emotion reports, since hardly any mothers directly
labeled their child’s emotions—the most common type of validation was
to validate the child’s emotional point of view (e.g., “Oh dear! They’re
tricky those snakes!”) without explicitly naming the emotion. This sug-
gests that simple labeling of the child’s emotion state was not the main
process in operation here. Although studies by Linehan (1993) and by
Fruzzetti, Shenk, and Hoffman (2005) highlight the importance of label-
ing, the implicit legitimizing of the emotion (as indexed by reflecting the
child’s point of view) had a strong effect in the present study, even in the
absence of labeling.
Children’s levels of emotional awareness were different for differ-
ent categorical emotions, with children being significantly more aware
of sadness than of anger. Furthermore, mothers were significantly more
Emotional Validation and Emotional Awareness 149
validating of sadness than they were of anger. Thus, there seems to be a link
between mother’s validation and child’s emotional awareness at the level
of emotion category. This is in line with previous research which found
that anger is regarded as less socially acceptable than sadness and is often
discouraged in children (Casey & Fuller, 1994), but here we demonstrate
a correlation between the mother’s level validation of a particular emotion
and the child’s subsequent awareness of it. This could be interpreted as the
mother scaffolding their child’s introspection in such a way that facilitated
the child’s emotion reporting.
Is the child’s awareness of emotion entirely socially constructed by the
parent? Our results suggest not, since our data show that children’s reports
of their emotions overall did correspond significantly to the emotions they
expressed facially and behaviorally. In other words, the children seem to be
using some form of introspection in the sense of using information derived
from attending to their own emotion states. We can state this with rea-
sonable confidence because situational factors were insufficient to account
for the children’s’ emotion reports: When identical situations resulted in
different emotion expressions—for example, going down the long snake,
resulting in expressed anger for one child versus expressed sadness for
another—children’s emotion reports overall were linked significantly to
the emotion they expressed. This implies that the child’s episodic memory
of the emotion they felt and expressed was playing a part in their self-report
and was not merely memory of situational factors (e.g., “I went down a
However, there was large variability in how accurately the children
reported their emotions, and although characteristics of the child (i.e., their
gender, age, verbal IQ, and emotional recognition ability) explained 20%
of this variance, their mother’s levels of emotional validation/invalida-
tion accounted for a further 25% of this variance, more than doubling the
amount of variance explained (R2 .25, p < .001). Mothers’ level of emo-
tional validation/invalidation therefore had a statistically significant impact
on their children’s emotional awareness.
This is the first observational study to show directly that maternal
emotional validation is positively correlated, and maternal invalidation is
negatively correlated, with their children’s emotional awareness. If aware-
ness of emotion is beneficial and linked with emotional validation, then
training and supporting parents in emotional validation of their children
is desirable. In this study, we found that only 57% of mothers showed any
emotional validation at all, whereas 92% produced at least some invalidat-
ing responses, and the overall ratio of invalidating responses to validating
responses was nearly 3:1 at 2.86:1. The most common response to negative
150 Merrill-Palmer Quarterly
emotions of both sadness and anger was invalidation. Why were so few
emotions validated?
This may be because many parents find the emotional validation of
negative emotions an odd or unnatural thing to do (Faber & Mazlish, 2002;
Ginott, 1965). Many parents view negative emotions as something not to
be dwelt on but to be quickly passed over. Indeed, the validation specifi-
cally of anger is intuitively seen as inappropriate by many, and the skill
required to validate anger experience without condoning anger behavior
is quite sophisticated (Ginott, 1965). In addition to simply not knowing
the technique, the mothers’ general meta-emotion philosophy may have
played a part here (Gottman et al., 1996), although this was not measured.
An emotion-dismissing philosophy—the view that negative emotions are
harmful and that the parent’s job is to alleviate these as quickly as pos-
sible—may have predominated over an emotion-coaching philosophy
beliefs that the parent should help the child understand and express their
negative emotions. Further research would be needed to establish the link
between direct emotional validation as measured in the present study and
the parents’ meta-emotional beliefs. We should also add that some invali-
dating responses such as minimizing and distraction may be regarded as
functional in some situations (e.g., when a child’s emotion is preventing
them doing a task), but the claim being discussed here is that invalidation
reduces emotional awareness, not necessarily that all invalidation is bad in
all respects (although we are assuming that long-term reduction in emo-
tional awareness may well have negative consequences).
However, we do have preliminary data that emotional validation as
measured here can be trained. In a pilot training study (N 30) used to
examine the test sensitivity of the EVIOM, we found that giving mothers
a booklet on emotional validation 1 week prior to testing increased the
number of mothers who validated from 57% to 100% and the proportion
of emotions they validated from 26% to 67% (Lindberg, 2013). Thus, after
training, we increased the proportion of emotions validated from just under
1 in 3 to 2 in 3. This is preliminary evidence that emotional validation can
be effectively trained, although further research is needed to establish how
long lasting the effects of training are and also the impact it has on the
emotional awareness of the trainees’ children.
There are several limitations of the present study. First, the sam-
ple we used was homogeneous, largely consisting of highly educated
middle-class mothers. The patterns of emotional validation and invalida-
tion observed may not generalize to different social or cultural groups.
No fathers were observed, and the issue of how children might respond if
one parent is validating and one is invalidating was not covered. Second,
Emotional Validation and Emotional Awareness 151
the measure of emotional awareness used does have the problem of being
insensitive to deliberate suppression of emotional expression by the child
or to deliberate verbal denial by the child. In both of these cases, children
might be scored as unaware of their emotion when in fact they were aware.
The data show 26 cases out of 195 in which the former was possible (i.e.,
no emotion was expressed but one was reported) and 20 cases in which
the latter was possible (i.e., an emotion was expressed and reported as “no
emotion”). Neither excluding these cases, nor giving them the benefit of
the doubt and coding them as awareness, made a difference to the statisti-
cal significance of the effect between emotional validation and awareness,
but acknowledging these possibilities does reduce the sensitivity of our
Third, the mothers’ emotions were not recorded unless they were a
response to their child’s emotions. Mothers’ emotions before the child
responded were not examined. It is possible that the mother’s own emotion
sometimes primed their child’s subsequent emotion—that is, that social
referencing was an additional process operating prior to emotional valida-
tion. Even in such cases, however, the child’s awareness of their emotion
and the mother’s emotional validation of it can still be measured. Further
research would be needed to address the interplay between social referenc-
ing and emotional validation.
Fourth, the interaction between mother and child in this study was
in a game situation. Although many negative emotions were generated, it
may be that the way people respond to each others’ negative emotions in
games is not typical of how emotions are responded to in real life. Ideally,
more naturalistic situations should be recorded so that parents’ authentic
responses to their child’s real-life emotions can be coded.
Fifth, the study presents only a microanalysis of a specific interaction,
and we cannot assume that the effects of validation on awareness observed
here in a game will necessarily generalize to other situations or have
longer-term effects. All we can say the present study has demonstrated
is that when mothers validate or invalidate their child’s emotions while
playing a game, this affects their child’s subsequent awareness of their
emotions while playing that game. It may or may not be that this will gen-
eralize such that mothers who habitually validate or invalidate their child’s
emotions will have a long-term effect on their child developing more or
less emotional awareness in general. Further research using a longitudinal
design and a range of settings would be needed to address this. However, at
the very least, the present study does not reduce the plausibility of the idea
that a more general link exists between emotional validation and emotional
152 Merrill-Palmer Quarterly
In conclusion, although emotional validation by parents has been
hypothesized to play an important role in children’s emotional aware-
ness in both the parenting (Ginott, 1965; Gottman et al., 1996) and the
clinical literature (e.g., Linehan, 1993), the present study has been the
first to directly measure and establish this link observationally in specific
mother–child interactions. Greater emotional validation by mothers was
associated with greater emotional awareness in their children, and greater
invalidation was associated with decreased emotional awareness. These
findings would need to be replicated, and several factors need further
investigation—for example, the role played by mother’s meta- emotion
philosophy, whether the effects can be established longitudinally and
across different settings, how the effects may vary across social class and
culture, and the role of fathers—but the implications are clear: Focusing
specifically on emotional validation skills in parenting training is poten-
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Appendix: Validity of the EVIOM
Construct validity of the EVIOM was hard to determine directly against
existing measures because our construct differed somewhat from the
only other existing observational measure, the Parent–Child Validation/
Invalidation Coding Scale (Schneider & Fruzzetti, 2002). However, sig-
nificant correlations were found with some related self-report measures.
For emotional invalidation, two subscales of the Coping with Children’s
Negative Emotion Scale (CCNES; Eisenberg & Fabes, 1994) were rel-
evant. Invalidation as measured by the EVIOM correlated significantly
(r .28, p < .05) with the Punitive subscale of the CCNES, which mea-
sures the degree to which parents report they respond with punishment
to their child’s negative emotions; and correlated significantly negatively
(r .25, p < .05) with the Expressive Encouragement subscale of the
CCNES, which measures the degree to which parents report they encour-
age their child to express negative emotions.
For emotional validation, none of the subscales of the CCNES were
sufficiently matched to use for construct validity. Instead, we explored
construct validity via test sensitivity to a training procedure that adhered
closely to a key paradigmatic model of emotional validation. For this, we
devised a training booklet by using the emotional validation construct
of Faber and Mazlish (2002), which is directly derived from the work of
Ginott (1965). In a separate study (Lindberg, 2013), mothers (N 30)
were randomly assigned to either an emotional validation-training condi-
tion or to a no-training control. In the training condition, mothers, 1 week
before testing, were given a short booklet (based on material from Faber &
Mazlish, 2002) explaining what emotional validation is and how to dem-
onstrate it. The control group was given only the normal participant infor-
mation sheet. Both groups then participated in the parent–child Snakes
and Ladders game, and emotional validation was measured by using the
EVIOM. Participants in the emotional validation training group exhibited
significantly more emotional validation as measured by the EVIOM than
those in the control group, t(27) 5.14, p < .001, indicating that the
EVIOM was sensitive to the presence of emotional validation as defined by
Faber and Mazlish (2002) and Ginott (1965).
An exploratory principal components analysis was used to identify
factors underlying the nine items of the EVIOM. Initial analysis revealed
four factors with eigenvalues greater than 1, with the first factor explaining
24% of the variance, the second factor 17% of the variance, the third fac-
tor 15% of the variance, and the fourth factor 12% of the variance. Two-,
Emotional Validation and Emotional Awareness 157
three-, and four-factor solutions were examined by using both varimax and
oblimin rotations. There was little difference between the varimax and obl-
imin solutions, and the varimax analysis is reported here. The four-factor
solution yielded a first factor loading heavily on Negation (.99) and Punish
(.99); a second loading highly on Validating Context (.81), Labeling (.65),
and Not Ignoring (.60); a third loading on Distraction (.83) and Minimizing
(.60); and a fourth loading on Mirroring (.75) and Not Incongruent (.75).
The three-factor solution produced a first factor loading on Negation (.98)
and Punish (.98); a second loading on Validating Context (.82), Labeling
(.62), and Not Ignoring (.52); and a third loading on Distraction (.63), Not
Ignoring (.59), Not Mirroring (.53), and Minimizing (.44). The two-factor
solution yielded a first factor loading on Punish (.97), Negation (.97), and
Minimizing (.41); and a second factor loading on Validating Context (.82),
Labeling (.63), and Not Ignoring (.51).
The two-factor solution, which explained 41% of the variance, was
preferred because of the leveling off of eigenvalues on the scree plot after
two factors, and because of previous theoretical support. The two fac-
tors of “punish–negate–minimize” and “validate–label–attend” fall well
into Invalidate and Validate constructs, respectively. Alternatively, the
four- factor solution, which explained 68% of the variance, seems to give
two validating and two invalidating factors. The validating factors were
Validation (validating context, labeling, and not ignoring), and Congruency
(mirroring and not incongruent); and the invalidating factors were Negation
(negate and punish) and Minimization (distraction and minimizing).
... Validation of negative affect refers to instances where open expressions of negative affect are met with curiosity, openness, or care. Emotional validation is a well-developed concept in the parenting and couples therapy literature, described as "accurately and non-judgementally referring to the emotion or emotional perspective of the child" (Lambie & Lindberg, 2016) and "spouse responses that convey acceptance and an attempt to understand his or her partner's experience" (Leong, Cano, & Johansen, 2011). Finally, problem-focused coping is defined as "planful action to change the actual person-environment relationship by directly acting on the environment or on oneself" (Lazarus, 1991). ...
... In start-ups that engaged in affect elevation, expressions of affect were managed with understanding, curiosity, and care. This way of responding to expressions of negative affect resembles emotional validation, as developed in the parenting literature (Lambie & Lindberg, 2016) and research on couples therapy (Gottman, 2002;Leong et al., 2011). The essence of emotional validation is to ensure that another person's emotional experience is met with acceptance and an attempt to understand that person's experience (Lambie & Lindberg, 2016;Leong et al., 2011;Rogers, 1961). ...
... This way of responding to expressions of negative affect resembles emotional validation, as developed in the parenting literature (Lambie & Lindberg, 2016) and research on couples therapy (Gottman, 2002;Leong et al., 2011). The essence of emotional validation is to ensure that another person's emotional experience is met with acceptance and an attempt to understand that person's experience (Lambie & Lindberg, 2016;Leong et al., 2011;Rogers, 1961). We found that validation of negative affect turned expressions of affect into fruitful discussions, allowing members to explore the causes of their anxiety, anger, and frustration. ...
... Emotion validation is the accurate and non-judgmental communicative reference to another's emotion or feeling (Lambie & Lindberg, 2016;Linehan, 1993;Shenk & Fruzzetti, 2011). This process involves a knowledgeable other, for example, a parent, finding a way to direct the child's attention to the child's own emotion or feeling in a way that helps the child both conceptualize/symbolize the emotion and 'own' the emotion as a normal part of their experiential landscape (Rogers, 1959). ...
... Both emotion validation and emotion coaching have been linked to positive outcomes for children. For example, Lambie and Lindberg (2016) found that observed maternal emotion validation during a game played with children led to increased self-reported emotion awareness by the children (aged 4-7 years). Shipman et al. (2007) found that mother's emotional validation predicted more adaptive emotion regulation in children and emotional invalidation predicted less adaptive emotion regulation. ...
... According to the view we call sideways-regulation of emotion, the child, after being validated, does not directly down regulate but instead changes their relationship with their emotions (see Hayes, 2004, for a similar distinction). For example, changing one's relationship to one's emotions may include becoming more aware of the emotion and taking more 'ownership' of it (Lambie & Lindberg, 2016), or it may be to be able to express the emotion without shame (Tomkins, 1963). ...
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Background: Emotion validation by parents has positive outcomes for children's emotional development, particularly in vulnerable families, but there is a lack of research on supporting health workers to teach emotion validation to parents whose children are open to early help and children's social services. There is also a theoretical debate about how best to conceptualize emotion validation and why it is beneficial to children. The purpose of the study was to test the feasibility of teaching emotion validation skills to parents and family workers in a social care setting, and to examine the effects of such teaching on children's emotion awareness and emotion regulation. Methods: This small scale qualitative feasibility study involved 11 parents (with children aged 2‐5 years) who were receiving early help social services, and 5 family workers. All parents took part in a 4 week course teaching emotionally validating parenting: either in a group class (6 parents) or one‐one delivery at home via a family worker (5 parents). Effects on parents, children, and family workers were assessed using semi‐structured interviews. Results: Six themes were identified in qualitative analysis: 1) Parent became more validating, 2) Parent's own vulnerability affected their ability to use the skills, 3) Child became more aware of emotions, 4) Child became calmer and more accepting of negative emotions, 5) Child transferred emotion validation to others, 6) Family workers incorporated emotion validation techniques into their professional practice. Conclusion: Results demonstrated the feasibility of teaching emotional validation skills to parents via both delivery methods, with positive outcomes reported for parents and children and positive impact reported on family worker practice. Qualitative analysis suggested that parental acceptance of child's negative emotions may be linked with greater self‐awareness of negative emotions in the child.
... Adolescent's gender can influence parenting, and parents often apply different parenting practices on boys and girls. For example, parents are warmer and more empathetic with their daughters than sons, and parents are more likely to validate their daughters' emotions than sons' (Lambie & Lindberg, 2016;Mascaro et al., 2017). Furthermore, boys and girls also have different responses to parenting practices, showing different sensitivity to parenting, with adolescent girls being more sensitive to the emotional closeness with their parents than boys (Lewis et al., 2015). ...
... When parents have to spend more time with their sons due to concerns over poor academic performance, parents may engage in less positive interactions with their sons who, in hence, may feel less supported. For example, parents may set more rule, higher expectation, use more corporal punishment and controlling parenting (Endendijk et al., 2017), and use less empathetic interactions and validation of emotions with boys than with girls (Endendijk et al., 2016;Lambie & Lindberg, 2016;Mandara et al., 2012). Additionally, according to the social role theory, boys are expected to be independent and strong (Eagly et al., 2000), as a result, boys have a stronger need for autonomy than girls. ...
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Academic burnout and engagement are important indicators of students’ school success. This short-term longitudinal study examined whether parenting styles and parental involvement (parent report, collected at Time 1) predicted adolescent-reported academic burnout and engagement (collected at Time 3, two months later) directly or indirectly via adolescents’ perceived parental support (collected at Time 2, one month later). A total of 285 Chinese high school students (M = 15.93 years, SD = 1.06 years, 51.9% boys) and their fathers and mothers participated in the survey over three time points (one month apart for each data collection). Path analysis results indicated that authoritative parenting predicted less academic burnout in adolescents. Perceived paternal support mediated the relations between paternal authoritative parenting and adolescents’ academic engagement. Parents’ knowledge and skills involvement positively predicted adolescents’ perceived support, which in turn, predicted more academic engagement. However, father’s time and energy involvement predicted lower perceived paternal support, especially for boys. Moreover, multi-group analysis suggested that fathers and mothers influenced boys’ and girls’ academic burnout and engagement differently. In conclusion, it is important to consider adolescents’ perception of parental support, their developmental needs, and gender roles in Chinese families in order to increase adolescents’ academic engagement and decrease students’ academic burnout.
... A possible explanation could be that females tend to possess greater insight on their health and have more concern with their emotional well-being. They tend to verbalize more about depressive symptoms than males [41]. To date, one study reported that males have greater MHL regarding mental disorders [42]. ...
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Mental health literacy (MHL) promotes mental health among youths. We aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of the newly developed HOPE intervention in improving depression literacy, anxiety literacy, psychological well-being, and reducing personal stigma and stress levels amongst young adults at a university in Singapore. After two pilot studies, we conducted a randomised controlled trial (RCT) and recruited 174 participants aged 18–24 years old through social media platforms. The HOPE intervention group received four online sessions over two weeks and the control group received online inspirational quotes. Study outcomes were measured with self-reported questionnaires and they were assessed at baseline, post-intervention, and two-month follow-up ( NCT04266119). Compared with the control arm, the intervention group was associated with increased depression and anxiety literacy levels at post-intervention and two-month follow-up. In addition, personal stigma for depression was reduced at the post-intervention juncture. However, there were no statistically significant changes in the ratings of psychological well-being and stress levels between the two groups. Longitudinal studies with larger sample sizes are warranted to replicate and extend the extant findings.
... Parents realize that their children have changed due to the influence on them especially from intense interaction and communication. It turns out that the communication style of the parents affects the child's emotional state [14]. This prolonged Covid 19 makes parents depressed due to economic and social limitations so that to make parents not increasingly stressed by the activeness of children, they give gadgets instead. ...
... Moreover, invalidation has been associated with emotion dysregulation and disrupted sensitivity and appraisal of emotions (Crystal, 2018;DeShong et al., 2019). Further, parental invalidation has been associated with decreased awareness of emotions in their children (Lambie & Lindberg, 2016). Thus, invalidating experiences, like social pain minimization, can lead to emotion suppression and emotion dysregulation, both of which are related to worse interoception (Price et al., 2019;Seth, 2013;Willem et al., 2019). ...
Despite robust associations between discrimination and suicidality, the mechanisms underlying this relationship are poorly understood (Gomez et al., Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 2011, 40, 1465; Hunger et al., Stigma and Health, 2020a, 5, 217). The current study tested whether discrimination leads to suicidal ideation through a process whereby social pain minimization erodes trust in bodily sensations. We predicted that among Black participants, discriminatory experiences would be related to social pain minimization and this invalidation in turn was predicted to relate to impaired trust in bodily sensation and ultimately, suicidal ideation. Given the systemic racism Black Americans experience, we recruited 341 Black participants and asked them to complete surveys assessing their experiences of discrimination, social pain minimization, bodily trust, and suicidal ideation. Findings supported the proposed model, and were consistent with the hypothesis that discrimination was related to suicidal ideation through minimization of social pain and reduced trust of body sensations. These findings suggest that clinical interventions targeting bodily trust and public health policy initiatives targeting social pain minimization may be useful methods of decreasing suicidal ideation in those that face discriminatory experiences.
... Fonagy et al. (2012) (see also Luyten & Fonagy, 2015) differentiated between self-and other-directed mentalization as two neurally separate but intertwined abilities of understanding one's own and other people's emotions and other mental states. Typically, maltreated children may become highly vigilant of others' emotions, especially negative ones but may not adequately learn to understand their own emotions, which have rarely elicited caregiver attention (Fonagy et al., 2012;Lambie & Lindberg, 2016). ...
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This prospective longitudinal study examined how maternal prenatal substance use disorder (SUD) and early mother–infant interaction quality are associated with child social cognition (emotion recognition and mentalization) at school age. A sample of 52 poly‐substance‐using mothers receiving early interventions and 50 non‐users, along with their children, was followed from pregnancy to school age. First‐year mother–infant interaction quality was measured with EA scales. At school age, child facial emotion recognition was measured with DANVA and mentalization with LEAS‐C. SUD group children did not differ from comparison children in social cognition, but higher severity of maternal prenatal addiction predicted emotion recognition problems. High early mother–infant interaction quality predicted better emotion recognition and mentalization, and mother–infant interaction quality mediated the effect of prenatal SUD on emotion recognition. The results highlight the need for early treatments targeting both parenting and addiction, as well as long‐term developmental support for these children. Highlights • We examined how mother's prenatal substance use disorder (SUD) and early mother–infant interaction predict child social cognition at school age. • Questionnaires, observational and computer tasks were used. Maternal prenatal addiction severity and early parenting problems predicted problematic child social cognition. • Early interventions should simultaneously target addiction and parenting. Attention should also be paid to the long‐term developmental support of children.
... The results showed that health education using game board of worms and ladders can improve knowledge, attitude, practice the worm disease prevention and reduce worm disease in school children. Lambie, Lindberg, & Ruskin also used the snakes and ladders game in identifying parental role relationships to the emotional abilities of children aged 4-7 years 24 . The usage of snakes and ladder game media can increase knowledge and attitude in the selection of healthy snacks in school children 16 . ...
Adolescents are at risk for becoming victims or perpetrators for a variety of forms of dating violence, including cyber violence, physical violence, psychological abuse, and sexual abuse. Interestingly, a robust predictor of dating violence is adverse experiences during childhood; however, factors that could mitigate the risk of dating violence for those exposed to adversity have seldom been examined. Using the cumulative stress hypothesis as a lens, the current study examined severity of adverse experiences as a predictor of dating violence within a sample at risk for both victimization and perpetration of dating violence: An adolescent (12–17 years old; N = 137) sample who were receiving inpatient psychiatric treatment. First, the current study aimed to replicate previous findings to determine whether adversity predicted dating violence and whether this varied by gender. Then, the current study examined one factor that could mitigate the relation between adversity and dating violence—parental emotion validation. High rates of maternal emotion validation resulted in no relation between adversity and dating violence perpetration and victimization; however, the relation was present at average and low levels of maternal emotion validation. Next, by adding gender as an additional moderator to the model, we found that high rates of paternal emotion validation extinguished the relation between adversity and dating violence perpetration, but only for adolescent boys. This pattern was not found for maternal emotion validation. Interestingly, the relation between adversity and dating violence victimization did not vary as a function of maternal or paternal validation of emotion for either child gender. These findings are discussed in terms of their meaning within this sample, possible future directions, and their implications for the prevention of dating violence.
Evidence is reviewed which suggests that there may be little or no direct introspective access to higher order cognitive processes. Subjects are sometimes (a) unaware of the existence of a stimulus that importantly influenced a response, (b) unaware of the existence of the response, and (c) unaware that the stimulus has affected the response. It is proposed that when people attempt to report on their cognitive processes, that is, on the processes mediating the effects of a stimulus on a response, they do not do so on the basis of any true introspection. Instead, their reports are based on a priori, implicit causal theories, or judgments about the extent to which a particular stimulus is a plausible cause of a given response. This suggests that though people may not be able to observe directly their cognitive processes, they will sometimes be able to report accurately about them. Accurate reports will occur when influential stimuli are salient and are plausible causes of the responses they produce, and will not occur when stimuli are not salient or are not plausible causes.
Assessed sympathy and personal distress with facial and physiological indexes (heart rate) as well as self-report indexes and examined the relations of these various indexes to prosocial behavior for children and adults in an easy escape condition. Heart rate deceleration during exposure to the needy others was associated with increased willingness to help. In addition, adults' reports of sympathy, as well as facial sadness and concerned attention, were positively related to their intention to assist. For children, there was some indication that report of positive affect and facial distress were negatively related to prosocial intentions and behavior, whereas facial concern was positively related to the indexes of prosocial behavior. These findings are interpreted as providing additional, convergent support for the notion that sympathy and personal distress are differentially related to prosocial behavior. Over the years, numerous philosophers (e.g., Blum, 1980) and psychologists (e.g., Barnett, 1987; Feshbach, 1978; Hoffman, 1984; Staub, 1978) have argued that empathy and sympathy, denned primarily in affective terms, are important motivators of altruistic behavior. In general, it has been asserted that people who experience emotional reactions consistent with the state of another and who feel other-oriented concern for the other are relatively likely to be motivated to alleviate the other's need or distress.
Seventy-three couples were studied at 2 time points 4 years apart. A typology of 5 groups of couples is proposed on the basis of observational data of Time 1 resolution of conflict, specific affects, and affect sequences. Over the 4 years, the groups of couples differed significantly in serious considerations of divorce and in the frequency of divorce. There were 3 groups of stable couples: validators, volatiles, and avoiders, who could be distinguished from each other on problem-solving behavior, specific affects, and persuasion attempts. There were 2 groups of unstable couples: hostile and hostile/detached, who could be distinguished from each other on problem-solving behavior and on specific negative and positive affects. A balance theory of marriage is proposed, which explores the idea that 3 distinct adaptations exist for having a stable marriage.