One of the most important skills for parents is the ability to validate their children's thoughts and feelings. Validation means recognizing that that another person's internal experience is true and has value even if we don't see it the same way. For example, a child screams for candy, saying that he must have it or his day is ruined. No adult would think that way. In fact, the child probably sounds spoiled to most people. But feelings and thoughts aren't wrong to have. Acting on them is a different story of course.
Validation means saying, without sarcasm, that you understand that he wants the candy desperately and believes his day will be ruined if he doesn't get it. But you're not going to buy it. You've just scored mega points on psychological parenting and helped your child develop his sense of self.
Validation is the way kids learn to trust their own internal thoughts and feelings. When they are repeatedly invalidated they learn they don't know the right way to feel or think and turn to others instead of paying attention to their own internal guide. This means a higher vulnerability to peer pressure and influence.
Validating doesn't mean you agree. It just means you acknowledge their experience. Like telling your best friend you understand why she hates her ex-husband's new bride even though you think the woman's pretty together. Provided it's the truth. Validation is always the truth.
For Valentine's Day, think of validations you'd give to those you love. What is the truth about their personality, their infuence on your life. That's a gratitude validation. It's powerful.